As City Commissioner Amanda Fritz enters her final month in office, she's ticking items off a to-do list.
Today, Fritz, who oversees Portland Parks & Recreation, announced she's stripping the name of the late Gen. George Armstrong Custer off a 6.3-acre city park in Southwest Portland.
"I've lived in Southwest Portland for over 30 years, and it's long been clear to me that the name of Custer Park in the Multnomah neighborhood needs to be changed," Fritz said in a statement. "While the park itself is a treasured community asset and gathering space, its name does not represent the park nor capture the relationship Portlanders want to have with this wonderful place. Worse, it glorifies a military oppressor instead of honoring the courageous Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho warriors who defended their homelands in what is now Montana.
"As my time on the City Council comes to an end, I am making the executive decision that effective immediately, Custer Park shall no longer be known by that name," said Fritz, the council's longest-serving member, in a statement.
Although Fritz did not reference public sentiment in her statement, Portland activist Rachelle Dixon two years ago launched an online petition to change the name of the park from Custer to Beatrice Morrow Canady Park, in honor of the 20th century civil rights leader, editor of The Advocate, the state's largest Black newspaper, and leader of the NAACP of Oregon. More than 1,000 people signed the petition.
Fritz said she won't prejudge whose name goes on the park.
"Over the next year, Portland Parks & Recreation will work with neighbors, community stakeholders, historians and Indigenous Peoples to choose an appropriate and honorable name for this beautiful park," she said. "Until a suitable name is selected, Custer Park will be referred to as 'A Park.'"