Asheville City Council member Vijay Kapoor announced on July 23 that a new playground will be named after 12-year-old Derrick Lee Jr., who was shot and killed on July 1, 2018, at Lee Walker Heights apartments. Lee’s murder remains unsolved.
“We hope one day, when folks use the playground and see the name Derrick Lee Jr. there, that they’ll think of Derrick, who was an absolutely wonderful child,” Kapoor said. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and [that’s] whose memory that we want to honor.”
Lee’s grandparents, the Rev. Eddie Tolbert and his wife, Charlotte Tolbert, along with anti-gun violence activist Jack Logan, petitioned members of Asheville City Council last year to name something in the city in Derrick’s memory.
“I know little Derrick Lee would have been more than honored to have something named after him,” Rev. Tolbert told those present at the July 23 announcement.
The playground will be built as a part of the Asheville Housing Authority’s renovation of Lee Walker Heights. The Milan Hotel Group has offered to pay for the playground and is also contributing $500,000 to Asheville’s affordable housing trust fund as part of a deal to build a seven-story, 103-room hotel across Biltmore Avenue from Lee Walker Heights. The hotel was approved by a 4-3 Council vote in March.