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Fort Worth community center officially renamed to honor Atatiana Jefferson

FORT WORTH ( — Three years since her life was cut short by a Fort Worth police officer, the city is honoring the life and legacy of Atatiana Jefferson.

The Hillside Community Center is only a three-minute walk from where she lived. Today, it was officially renamed the Atatiana Carr-Jefferson Community Center at Hillside.

For Atatiana's sister, Ashley Carr, today is bittersweet. Their other sister, Amber Carr, died this January after fighting for justice for Jefferson for over three years.

"I kind of cried because this is something that me and Amber had been talking about," Ashley said. "We were getting prepared for this to happen and... both of my sisters are not here, and my mother's not here either. But I think they're happy looking down on this day."

James Smith was Jefferson's neighbor. For him, seeing her name on this center - a fixture in the community - means a lot.

"I get a feeling that she's saying 'thanks for not forgetting me," he said. "Atatiana, in my opinion, is going to be a catalyst for change in the City of Fort Worth. Not just for policing, for the city as a whole."

But not everyone in the community was in favor of renaming the center after Atatiana. Some residents said renaming the center would take away from its history.

But in January, the Fort Worth City Council voted unanimously in favor of the name change. 

City councilmember Chris Nettles said at the dedication, "We need to make sure that we as a city take time out and say 'we take responsibility for what happened. We take ownership for what happened.' And this is how we move forward."

Jefferson's nephew, who was with her when she was killed, was at the ceremony today. Ashley said she looks forward to bringing him to this center one day.

"He loves telling me, 'oh, can I walk to Hillside Park?'" said Ashley. "So now he's gonna be saying, 'can I walk to Aunt Tay's community center?' And I'm gonna say yeah, no problem."

His aunt's name will be etched on the building for decades to come.

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