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Dallas City Council Votes Unanimously To Approve Renaming Of Street In Memory Of Botham Jean

Clouds loom over Lamar St., nearly two years after the murder of Botham Jean at the hands of a police officer at an apartment building on this street.
Keren Carrión
/
KERA
Clouds loom over Lamar St., nearly two years after the murder of Botham Jean at the hands of a police officer at an apartment building on this street.

Some raised concerns about costs, but after much debate at a public hearing, all 15 members on the city council voted in favor of the change, which affects a portion of South Lamar Street.

After a long and heated debate and public hearing, Dallas City Council members voted unanimously on renaming part of South Lamar Street between Interstate 30 and South Central Expressway to "Botham Jean Boulevard." All 15 members approved the name change.

They held a public hearing to get input from the public..

Jean was the 26-year-old Dallas Black man who was killed in his apartment in 2018 by former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who was white.

Guyger and Jean both lived on Lamar Street at the time of the shooting, and the Dallas police headquarters is located on the street. All three locations fall along the 3-mile stretch that would be renamed.

At the hearing, Botham Jean's mother, Allison spoke, saying that changing the street name would be "a small but meaningful gesture."

"One wish is that Botham's name will be remembered and never never forgotten," she said. "This street on which he chose to live and this street in which he died can serve as a lasting memory of the outstanding resident who loved Dallas so much."

Botham Jean's mother, Allison Jean, rejoices in the courtroom after fired Dallas police Officer Amber Guyger was found guilty of murder.
Botham Jean's mother, Allison Jean, rejoices in the courtroom after fired Dallas police office Amber Guyger was found guilty of murdering her son.

Many activists weighed in on the name change, including, Dallas activist Dominique Alexander.

"Right now where our nation's Capitol has been under siege because of racism and bigotry and hate that continue to get stifled over, continue to get looked over, of course Lamar and many other streets should be renamed to erase that type of history inside of America," said Alexander, who's also President and founder of the social justice group Next Generation Action Network.

Many others brought up Lamar Street is named after a former president of the Republic of Texas.

During the public hearing, some voiced concern that the name change would cost too much money for the businesses on the street and for the city itself. The city had sent 122 notices to properties and businesses on the portion of the street that would be affected. Only seven opposed the change.

"We are spending taxpayer dollars and we just need to be transparent about it," council member Jennifer Gates said. "I just think it's fair to be able to just say 'Hey it's $1,000 or $1,500,' but we don't have that we just have an asterisk that says we may incur costs later."

These concerns later led to a debate about deferring the vote, but the attempt was ultimately voted down.

The city originally said the name change would cost no money, but at the meeting, the council did say the street signage cost would be $20,000 and additional costs may come up.

In July 2020, Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano and council members Omar Narvaez and Adam Bazaldua filed a memo to the city manager to request the name change.

The memo stated: “Renaming the street in honor of Botham Jean would show citizens of Dallas that his death was not in vain and show the world that his life mattered.”

In September of last year, faith leaders gathered in support of the name change.

"I can’t help but reflect on the person he was. A street sign might seem like a small gesture, but a street in his honor would be a reminder of the lessons learned since Botham’s death,” said Sammie Berry of Dallas West Church of Christ.

Jean was a lifelong member of the church and is remembered for his powerful worship leadings and beautiful voice.

Though the passed proposal falls short of the Jean family's wish for the entire street to be renamed, the 3.7 mile stretch serves as a success that will ensure Botham's name will never be forgotten.

Got a tip? Alejandra Martinez is a Report For America corps member and writes about the economic impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities for KERA News. Email Alejandra at amartinez@kera.org. You can follow Alejandra on Twitter @_martinez_ale.

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