As protests against systemic racism and police violence continue around the country, the Henrico County Board of Supervisors will consider measures to improve citizen oversight of county police.
In addition to calling for a new civilian review board and policing reform, Supervisor Tyrone Nelson also asked the board to rename Confederate Hills Recreation Center.
In Henrico, the Confederate Hills Recreation Center is named for a former civic association that once owned the building.
According to a description on the county’s website, it was originally built in 1925 as a clubhouse for the Locomotive Club of Richmond.
The county acquired it in 1994 from the Confederate Hills Civic and Recreation Association. The county-run recreation center features a lawn croquet court, shuffle board and tennis courts, and is available to rent for private parties.
Nelson said constituents asked the county to consider renaming the county-run facility five years ago, saying it is offensive because of the Confederate struggle to maintain slavery as a legal institution more than 150 years ago.
Nelson said the protests and recent interactions with constituents renewed his interest in renaming the building.
“Why have a name of a Confederate at all? I just don’t see how we can justify that,” Nelson said.
Board Chairman Tommy Branin and Supervisor Dan Schmitt declined to say what they think of the proposals.
Schmitt said he first wants to speak with Nelson and Supervisor Frank Thornton, who both are African American and the only Democrats on the board.
“I have feelings about it, but I owe it to them to have a conversation about it,” he said. “I have too much respect for them to talk about it with someone else before I talk to them.”
Supervisor Pat O’Bannon said that the county has two committees that are similar to a civilian review board but could not name them or describe how they are structured.
“We could enhance our existing boards to handle these types of questions,” she said. “That’s what we will discuss Tuesday.”