Portion of Charleston community center renamed to honor police officer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Charleston officials joined community leaders and the family of late Patrolman Robert Easley in dedicating a wing of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center in his honor.

Family members unveiled the signage of the Robert E. Easley Sr. Annex outside of the facility. A plaque noting the dedication is placed in the building.

Easley was one of a few Black police officers for the city during the 1950s and 1960s, in which he gained a reputation for focusing on community relationships through afterschool programs. He received the 1963 Officer of the Year award, the department’s Medal of Valor and multiple Officer of the Month honors.

Easley died on Dec. 23, 1997. The state Human Rights Commission recognized Easley in 2010 as a West Virginia Civil Rights Honoree.

Matthew Sutton, the chief of staff of Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin, said the dedication shows how the city moves into the future.

“It’s monumental what we’re doing here today,” Sutton said before Easley’s family and community members. “Most people in this room who grew up in Charleston and lived here — whether they knew it or not — were impacted by the work Mr. Easley did.”

Martec Washington, Easley’s grandson, noted Easley was a warm personality who cared about Charleston’s youth, using his position with the police department to make an impact.

“If you leave with absolutely nothing, please leave with being selfless. Don’t worry about the recognition for yourself, because my grandfather never cared,” he said. “Don’t worry about what you’re going to do or how you’re going to do it. Just do it.”

Robert Easley Jr. said his father is still alive through the impact he continues to have in Charleston.

“Do not let his work die,” Easley said.

Easley added his father deserves further recognition, promising the road in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center — Donnally Street — will be renamed.