After I posted a letter that was published in Asheville on institutional racism and economic inequality still being a big problem in our city on the I Survived The Riot at Asheville High Facebook page, Walter Robertson sent me a Facebook friend request.
I think he, of all people in Asheville, probably knew more about those issues than anyone in the whole city, and since he had to deal with and helped change things so much here, I am writing this letter so people will think about those issues, since Walter probably did more in person, in the real world here, as a police officer and fellow U.S. military veteran of the Vietnam era, even after he retired from the Asheville Police Department, than practically anyone else in Asheville’s history.
In light of what I have said here, I want to suggest that the city of Asheville consider renaming the “Pit of Despair” downtown space in his honor. Somehow I think Walter would have liked this suggestion, and who better to rename the space after, especially since doing that may inspire the community to change the situation to create something positive in that space.
— John Penley
Editor’s note: Retired APD Lt. Walter Robertson passed away on April 25. Penley added a subsequent update: “I sent the mayor and all the Council people the letter above on April 27. While I suggested a different location, I support Councilman Keith Young’s recommendation, which was just announced, to name the Municipal Building for Walter Robertson. I would like to suggest that because of his dedication to helping veterans, that an addition to the building be considered. I suggest a permanent office for veterans assistance be added to honor him as well.”