Dallas City Council approves renaming street in memory of Botham Jean
Updated at 8 p.m. with more information on the vote and the Council’s reactions.
The Dallas City Council unanimously approved the renaming of approximately four miles of South Lamar Street in memory of Botham Jean on Wednesday. He was shot dead in his apartment on this street when a former Dallas cop thought she was her own.
The vote took place after more than an hour and a half of public testimony and discussion in the council, mainly in favor of the proposed Botham Jean Boulevard. Several members, including Mayor Eric Johnson, urged colleagues to agree to the street name change after several council members tried to delay the vote.
“I implore this council to think seriously about the message we are trying to send as a city, by letting this get to the point where we actually vote, letting this family participate in this process … and this family enforcing more pain than they went through, “Johnson said before the 15-0 vote.
Botham Jean Boulevard runs between Interstate 30 and the South Central Expressway. The street includes South Side Flats, the apartment complex where Jean and his killer Amber Guyger lived. The Dallas Police Department headquarters is less than a block away. Another roughly mile-long stretch of road north of I-30 through downtown Dallas to Interstate 35E would not be renamed.
The street name change will take effect in 60 days, and the city estimates the street sign change will cost around $ 20,000.
Botham Jean’s mother said during the meeting that the family’s wish since his death on September 6, 2018 has been that he be remembered.
“This street he wanted to live on and the street he died on can serve as a lasting reminder of the upright resident who loved Dallas so much,” said Allison Jean.
Guyger shot and killed Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, in his apartment after returning home from her work shift. Guyger, now 32, testified at her trial that she thought he was an intruder in her apartment, which was on a different floor.
Jean’s family filed an unlawful death lawsuit against his former apartment complex in September, essentially criticizing the design and lack of signs. The family has an active lawsuit against the city and Guyger in federal court.
The attempt to rename the street began with an online petition after Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murder in 2019. The idea was then picked up by local activists and church groups. It was then officially proposed last summer by Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano with the support of Councilors Adam Bazaldua and Omar Narvaez. Medrano and Bazaldua represent the districts through which the street passes.
The final vote came after Councilor David Blewett wanted to postpone the decision on street names pending the settlement of federal wrongful death case. His request failed 11-4.
Councilor Jennifer Staubach Gates also raised concerns about other costs related to the street name change. She, along with Council members Blewett, Adam McGough and Chad West, voted to support the delay.
“I am very concerned about back and forth while we are involved in civil proceedings,” said Blewett. “This is not personal and I take it very seriously that we do it right.”
After the vote in the council, Allison Jean, Botham’s mother, described the approval as a “bittersweet moment”.
“I am grateful that South Lamar is being renamed Botham Jean Boulevard,” she said. “But it won’t bring my son back.”
She hopes that one day the entire street will be renamed after her son. She was disappointed that the lawsuit was cited as a reason to postpone a decision on the matter.
“The renaming of Lamar Street is, to me, a gesture to honor Botham and his importance to the city of Dallas, and the litigation is to seek accountability for what was done to him,” said Allison Jean. “So it happens that the city is involved in both. But I don’t see how one connects with the other, and I thought that was minor. “
Among the nearly a dozen supporters who voted in favor of Botham Jean Boulevard before the council vote, were Allisa Findley, Botham’s sister from New York, Rep. Carl Sherman Sr., and Rep. Jasmine Crockett.
Some mentioned Jean’s devotion to his faith, family, and friends; his singing voice and the potential for a new city guide who was lost when he was killed.
Three residents said during a public testimony they were opposed to the name change and raised concerns about the cost to the city, as well as property and business owners along the street. They said the names of police officers killed on duty should have been taken into account instead. They said the renaming of the street where the police station is located was a form of punishment for someone who was killed by an officer.
“Officers serve because they love the community, and all officers did not do this to this good man or his family,” said Minnie Caruth.
Councilor Casey Thomas said renaming the street was not about sending a message to the police. Instead, he said, “someone should be honored who exemplifies the character and expectation we hope for for anyone who calls Dallas home”.
“We don’t have to get confused. It doesn’t have to be political, ”said Thomas. “It’s not about black and blue. It’s not about black and white. It’s a question of right and wrong. “
Rename Dallas streets
Dallas has approved the renaming of 23 streets since 2010, including renaming part of Olive Street near the American Airlines Center to Dirk Nowitzki Way in 2019 in honor of the retired Dallas Mavericks star.
Lamar Street takes its current name from Mirabeau B. Lamar, who was elected second President of the Republic of Texas in 1838. He was a supporter of slavery and led an effort that resulted in almost all Native Americans in the republic being killed or displaced.