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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – After more than six hours of heated debate, Hollywood commissioners voted five to one to change the names of three streets named after Confederate generals.
More than 140 people signed up to speak at a public hearing. The message: take down these street signs and rename them.
The three streets to be renamed are Lee Street, which is named after Gen. Robert E. Lee; Hood Street, named after Gen. John Bell Hood, and Forrest Street, named after Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest.
John Bell Hood, Robert E. Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest all fought for the Confederacy and to preserve slavery. Forrest was also the first Grand Wizard of the KKK. The street named after him runs through a predominantly black neighborhood.
Those who spoke before the vote said the issue goes beyond just the changing of names.
“We must take care of our children and tell them of our history,” said one woman. “Teach them how to forgive, how to love, how to have compassion, how to show empathy. Tearing down the names of Hood and Lee, that don’t change nothing, it doesn’t change character.”
“This is not a racial matter. People have turned it into that. What it is — is a moral matter. And, we have too much immorality that we are exposed to,” said another man.
State Representative Shevrin Jones said he’s pleased by the decision.
“Now that these street names have happened, now we can move on. Now we can begin to heal this city, begin to heal this nation. Hollywood has had this conversation that our nation, that the U.S., that we can come together as a nation and do what’s right,” he said.
Outside City Hall, police stood guard on roofs and on the ground prepared for any type of violence like the world saw in Charlottesville Virginia a few weeks ago over the potential removal of a Confederate statute.
Protesters stood united in the belief that Hollywood streets named in honor of three Confederate generals need to be changed.
“Why would we have a street named in honor of the first grand wizard of the modern KKK?” asked Dara Hill, a Hollywood resident.
Only one person stood in support of keeping the street names. A man identified by Hollywood Police as Christopher Monzon engaged supporters of the name changes.
John Marese said he was standing across a barricade from Monzon and at one point, thrust the flagpole he was carrying at the crowd, just as police grabbed him.
Monzon was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, inciting a riot and disorderly conduct.
The new names of the streets have yet to be determined. The commission will meet again next week to discuss their options.