Protesters in Hol­ly­wood: ‘Racist streets have got to go’

Lead­ers hear from dozens of res­i­dents, but not all want a change

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Su­san­nah Bryan and Brooke Baitinger Staff writers

HOL­LY­WOOD – “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, these racist streets have got to go!”

That mes­sage, chanted by dozens of protesters Wed­nes­day out­side Hol­ly­wood City Hall, urged city com­mis­sion­ers to end a long-run­ning con­tro­versy over three streets that honor Con­fed­er­ate war lead­ers.

On Wed­nes­day, com­mis­sion­ers were ex­pected to ap­prove a plan to re­name streets named for Con­fed­er­ate com­man­ders Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood and Nathan Bed­ford For­rest, who was also the first grand wiz­ard of the Ku Klux Klan. But as of 11 p.m., they were still de­bat­ing the con­tro­ver­sial is­sue after hear­ing from dozens of speak­ers, in­clud­ing Con­gress­woman Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz and State Rep. Joe Geller.

“There is no short­age of ha­tred in the world,” Wasser­man Schultz said. “We can­not let ha­tred win here to­day. Con­fed­er­ate gen­er­als should be stud-

ied in text­books and mu­se­ums. But they should not be hon­ored on our streets.”

Geller re­minded com­mis­sion­ers of For­rest’s sta­tus as founder of the KKK.

“Liv­ing on a street named after him is like be­ing asked to live on Hitler Street,” Geller said. “This is a prob­lem. You have the power to fix it. Please fix it.”

Long­time Hol­ly­wood res­i­dent Dara Hill also wants the signs taken down, say­ing it is an em­bar­rass­ment that they still stand.

“This should have been done two decades ago,” Hill told com­mis­sion­ers. “This is a civic mat­ter and the coun­try is watch­ing.”

But some who live on the streets want the names left alone.

Lorraine May told com­mis­sion­ers she’s lived on Lee Street for 50 years and didn’t re­al­ize it was named for Robert E. Lee.

“Street names don’t breed hate,” she said. “Haters breed hate.”

One woman sug­gested keep­ing the name Lee Street and ded­i­cat­ing the street to Harper Lee, au­thor of “To Kill a Mock­ing­bird.”

Hol­ly­wood res­i­dent Ben­jamin Is­rael, an AfricanAmer­i­can and Or­tho­dox Jew who has led the charge to re­name the streets, ridiculed the idea.

“The idea of keep­ing Lee Street is non­sen­si­cal,” he said. “Name it Harper Street, not Lee.”

In an­tic­i­pa­tion of the vote, protesters peace­fully gath­ered out­side City Hall with signs and posters, chants and speeches.

More than 100 po­lice of­fi­cers kept close watch on the crowd, some perched on the roof and oth­ers stand­ing ready on the ground.

Na­tion­ally, the de­bate over Con­fed­er­ate sym­bols in­ten­si­fied after vi­o­lent protests Aug. 12 in Char­lottesville, Va., over a de­ci­sion to re­move a statue of Con­fed­er­ate Gen­eral Robert E. Lee. An Ohio man plowed his car into a crowd of coun­ter­protesters in Vir­ginia, killing a 32-year-old woman and in­jur­ing 19 peo­ple.

In Hol­ly­wood, the crowd swelled in a mat­ter of min­utes from 40 to more than 150. Among those demon­strat­ing: A girl hold­ing a sign say­ing, “No Amerikkka.”

A lone pro­tester wanted the street names to stay. Christo­pher Rey Mon­zon, 22, of Hialeah, stood alone wav­ing a Con­fed­er­ate flag.

“Nathan Bed­ford For­rest, Hood and Lee were all good Chris­tian men who fought for the South and the South­ern na­tion,” he told the Sun Sen­tinel. “We need to de­fend our her­itage and iden­tity in the South — and our his­tory.”

Later, he clashed with other protesters, say­ing: “White man made this coun­try. You are lucky to be here.”

At one point Mon­zon tried to jump the se­cu­rity bar­ri­cade to get to a pro­tester on the other side. Po­lice wres­tled him to the ground, put him in hand­cuffs and led him away from the crowd.

Mon­zon was ar­rested on charges of ag­gra­vated as­sault, dis­or­derly con­duct and in­cit­ing a riot, po­lice said.

A sim­i­lar protest in June ended in five ar­rests when Black Lives Mat­ter protesters dis­rupted a com­mis­sion meet­ing while the rally went on out­side.

State Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, was among those demon­strat­ing Wed­nes­day, hold­ing a sign that read, “No place for hate — Hol­ly­wood.”

“This is a beau­ti­ful day, not just for Hol­ly­wood but Amer­ica,” Jones said. “Every­one is here in unity, let­ting peo­ple know this is not the place for hate and this is not the place for big­otry.”

On July 3, com­mis­sion­ers gave ten­ta­tive ap­proval to chang­ing the street names. The vote was 5-2.

Ini­tial plans to re­name For­rest Street to Sa­van­nah Street, Hood Street to Ma­con and Lee to Louisville may be in flux. Blat­tner told the Sun Sen­tinel the streets may be named for trees or flow­ers in­stead.

What­ever names they go with, Com­mis­sioner Kevin Bie­der­man pre­dicted re­nam­ing the streets was in­evitable.

“If it doesn’t get changed tonight, it’s go­ing to get changed next month or next year,” he said. “I don’t think it’s go­ing away. Let’s move ahead and put this be­hind us.”

MIKE STOCKER/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Protesters gather at Hol­ly­wood City Hall as com­mis­sion­ers were due to vote on re­nam­ing three streets that are named for Con­fed­er­ate war lead­ers. For the lat­est on the com­mis­sion’s ac­tion, visit Sun­Sen­tinel.com.

JIM RASSOL/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

The pub­lic hear­ing at Hol­ly­wood City Hall drew more than 150 peo­ple. More than 100 city po­lice of­fi­cers kept se­cu­rity tight. There was only one ar­rest, out­side City Hall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.