Sandy Springs will schedule public hearings for residents to comment on plans to tweak the spelling of two streets believed to be named after a founder of the Ku Klux Klan. The city also formally encouraged the Georgia General Assembly to approve hate-crimes legislation. Mayor Rusty Paul said the two gestures reflect where the U.S. is in its history.
Sandy Springs adopted a hate-crimes law in 2019. During a Tuesday meeting, council members approved a resolution formally calling on state elected officials to pass legislation that would provide more severe sentences for people convicted of crimes based on a victim’s race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, or physical or mental disability.
Council members also approved the removal of an ‘r’ in Lake Forrest Drive and Forrest Lake Drive. Officials estimate the cost will be about $9,000.
The city of Atlanta will be asked to approve and adjust the spelling on street signs for the portions of the roads that extend into its boundaries.
Some Sandy Springs residents are uncertain of the origin of the two street names, but Paul is sure they were named for Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general and leader in the Ku Klux Klan. Several streets in the city were named after Confederate leaders, he said.
“His troops massacred a regiment of black Union troops at Fort Pillow,” Paul said. “...Being one of the key leaders in probably one of the most notorious hate groups that this country has ever generated; and honoring that is something I don’t think we can do any longer.”
The mayor and council members have said that protests around the U.S. following the deaths of African American men and women in police-related deaths has given them a new understanding of the importance of positive conversations and actions regarding race.
“This is the start to me of an introspective look at what meaningful change in this city can be,” Councilman John Paulson said. “I’m interested in this being the start of further discussion about what other actions we can take, what other steps we can take within this city to provide meaningful change, so we don’t have this unrest and this injustice that we see on TV and we hear in other parts of the country.”
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