The Minneapolis Park Board is considering placing an off-leash dog park area in Martin Luther King Park, and some African Americans say they oppose it because it would disrespect the park's namesake.
Late Wednesday night, a group of mostly black residents spoke out against the proposal at a public hearing. Some voiced concerns about safety and sanitation, and they complained the park would take away resources for children. Others called it a slap in the face to King's legacy, because dogs were used against African American civil rights protesters in the '60s.
"The dog park, frankly, given the history, disrespects Dr. King's memory," said Sondra Richardson, who opposes the park. "We think there are many ways to build community, across race, across cultural and across socio-economic lines -- but a dog park isn't the way to do it."
But supporters, like Rebecca Horton, who is white, say no offense is intended.
"There is a reason that we are focusing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Park -- in terms of the number of dogs in south Minneapolis -- there's a reason, it's not arbitrary," Horton said. "It's not meant to disrespect. It's meant to serve community and build a sense of community."
There will be another meeting Thursday night at King Park to discuss the civil rights leader's legacy.