A Sikh organization is looking to change the name of a southwest Bakersfield park, and they're hoping to give a prominent human rights activist some recognition in the process.
The local branch of The Jakara Movement has created a petition to rename Stonecreek Park to Jaswant Singh Khalra Park after the human rights activist who is prominent in Sikh culture.
Khalra was an activist in India. Before he was murdered in 1995, Khalra helped expose thousands of killings under Punjab police custody in the 1980s and 1990s.
So far, the petition has garnered hundreds of signatures. An online petition to keep the name the same has also been formed.
Manpreet Kaur, a member of The Jakara Movement, says the Sikh community is prominent in the southwest Bakersfield area. She also says that "Punjabi is spoken at the third highest concentration in the state" in southwest Bakersfield, and that members of the Sikh community use the park as a gathering place.
The park falls in Bakersfield City Council Ward 7, under Councilman Chris Parlier. Dianne Hoover with the Bakersfield Recreation and Parks Department says they almost never get requests to change the names of neighborhood parks, so there isn't a set procedure. She says the group will need to bring their petition to the Bakersfield City Council, since they approved the original name of the park in 1998.
Those in favor of changing the name of the park will be held a town hall at Stonecreek Park Wednesday to inform the community about their movement and significance of Jaswant Singh Khalra to the Sikh culture.
Parlier says the next step in the effort to rename the park will take place at the next city council meeting on April 11. The proposal to rename the park will be referred to committee. Parlier says the entire community will be invited to take part in the conversation that follows.