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Bennie Hargrove Memorialized with Park Dedication

City Announces Renaming of Washington Middle School Park to Bennie J Hargrove Park

May 18, 2023

ALBUQUERQUE – The City of Albuquerque announced the renaming of a city park to honor the memory of Bennie Hargrove, a student at Washington Middle School and was shot and killed in 2021.The name change from “Washington Middle School Park” to “Bennie J Hargrove Park” comes on the date of what would have been Hargrove’s 15th birthday.

The Parks and Recreation Department made a request earlier this year to have the park renamed to honor Bennie and his heroism in defending a classmate. After the request was made and approved by the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Mayor Keller made the final approval to have the park renamed.

 “Today, on what should have been Bennie Hargrove’s 15th birthday, his name becomes a part of Albuquerque forever,” said Mayor Keller. “We will always remember Bennie and the spirit bravery and joy that he embodied. May his legacy continue to inspire meaningful change in our community.”

Along with the name change, a bench with a plaque and a tribute tree also honor Bennie at the park. A Texas red oak was planted, chosen to reflect Bennie’s favorite color, which was red. The Parks and Recreation Department announced future plans for the park which will include a pollinator garden at the park entrance and renovations to the playground and play features once funding is available. The renaming of parks is a rare occurrence and is only considered under honorable circumstances. The park will serve as a space for family, friends, classmates and the community to commemorate Bennie.

Bennie’s death in 2021 reignited public outcry over gun violence. In March, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 9, the Bennie Hargrove Gun Safety Act, which prevents gun violence by requiring gun owners to keep firearms safely stored. The legislation was sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, and Reps. Pamelya Herndon, Patricia Roybal Caballero, and Joanne J. Ferrary. The Mayor and the City of Albuquerque contributed to the drafting, support, and eventual passing of the bill.

“We have started something here; we have started to make changes in which gun violence affects our community and this is just the beginning step,” said Representative Pamelya Herndon. “I am so glad to see so much of the community out here in support.”

The park name change was followed by a small celebration for Bennie’s birthday led by his family members and friends, which included birthday cake, singing and a prayer.

“This name change shows love and community. I am at peace now and I can let him rest,” said Collette Weise, Bennie Hargrove’s mother. “I think his life will always be remembered and the sacrifice he made.”


About CABQ Parks & Recreation: The City of Albuquerque’s Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for maintaining nearly 300 parks, 143 miles of multi-use trails, more than 29,000 acres of Major Public Open Space, four municipal golf courses, and numerous aquatics and recreation facilities throughout Albuquerque. Hundreds of employees across six divisions within the Department take pride in ensuring Albuquerque residents have great facilities to foster a vibrant and healthy community.