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Phoenix to rename Robert E. Lee, Squaw Peak street names

September 17, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix City Council has voted to rename two streets many consider offensive. One is because of its demeaning reference to Native American women and the other because of its glorification of the Confederacy.

The unanimous vote Wednesday will remove Squaw Peak Drive and Robert E. Lee Street, but officials have yet to decide on new names.

Robert E. Lee Street is named after the Confederate general who led the uprising against the United States in the Civil War. “Squaw” is a slur historically used to describe Native American women .

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“The street names don’t match the values in our community,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego told The Arizona Republic earlier this week.

Gallego says the city will first give people who own property on the street a chance to vote on new names to recommend to the council, before the council votes on the options.

A plan to reimburse residents and businesses affected by the name change has also been approved.

Public comments indicate wide support for renaming Squaw Peak Drive to Piestewa Peak Drive, officials said. There is a long list of suggestions for Robert E. Lee Street. Gallego and Councilwoman Thelda Williams support either Freedom Street or Justice Street.

But not everyone agrees with some arguing that the name changes are a waste of time and taxpayer dollars, and amount to political pandering.