At the beginning of July, North Texans gathered outside the Dallas Police Department's headquarters for a candlelight demonstration in support of changing the name of Lamar Street to Botham Jean Boulevard in honor of the man murdered in his apartment by now-former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger in 2018. Now, community activists leading the effort, as well as members of the Jean family, are one step closer to getting the job done.
Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano filed a memo on Thursday in support of the name change. The memo was also signed by council members Omar Narvaez and Adam Bazaldua.
“Renaming the street in honor of Botham Jean would show the citizens of Dallas that his death was not in vain and show the world that his life mattered,” the memo read.
The filing is a name change request for South Lamar between Interstate 30 and South Central Expressway, a 3-mile stretch of the street. This falls short of what the Botham Jean Memorial Committee was initially asking for. The committee, composed of community activists Yafeuh Balogun, Pamela Grayson and Davante Peters, were going for all 5.8 miles of Lamar.
Balogun says the committee is happy with council members’ proposal. “Of course we want a longer street,” he says. “But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s bigger than what we want as a committee. It’s about honoring Botham.” He says he appreciates the council members' boldness in filing the memo.
However, it seems to be a bitter-sweet win for the activists.
The memo did not come as a surprise to Peters. Jean’s mother, Allison, and his sister Allysha told Peters about the council members’ support. While they are appreciative, Peters and Grayson feel like the committee’s efforts have been appropriated.
“This was an opportunity for Dallas politicians to partner with the community and work together with active citizens,” Peters says. “Instead, they chose to usurp and appropriate our efforts.”
Peters says that he’s keeping in mind the ultimate goal, the name change, but wishes the city didn’t take the community out of the project. Balogun reached out to Medrano for his support, but Grayson says she feels the committee’s calls fell on deaf ears at first.
The committee has invited Medrano, Narvaez, Bazaldua, as well as everyone else on the council to their events regarding the street name change. Peters says the only one who agreed to meet was councilmember Casey Thomas. “Medrano and Bazaldua decided to ignore our request and invitations which, in hindsight, makes more sense now,” Peters says.
But Bazaldua says they weren’t ignoring the activists. He says that Medrano was adamant about wanting the request to come from the Jean family. Additionally, Bazaldua says they wanted to check if the family had any involvement in the petition for the street name going around that was addressed to Medrano.
Narvaez and Medrano could not immediately be reached for comment.
The name change is in a good place for now, and while some of the activists feel out of the loop, Bazaldua says they can still be involved. He says they will need their help getting eight council members on board.?
“We’re happy that some semblance of justice will be served,” Balogun says. “We can work with what we got because it’s about the big picture.”
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