Phoenix to dismantle Squaw Peak, Robert E. Lee street signs

The city of Phoenix is officially installing new signs for two streets whose names have long been considered offensive.

Mayor Kate Gallego will look on as workers erect a new sign for Piestewa Peak Drive, formerly Squaw Peak Drive, on the morning of March 1.

Historically, "Squaw" is a slur used to describe Native American women. Piestewa honors fallen Native American soldier Lori Piestewa. She was a member of the Hopi tribe and was killed during an ambush in Iraq in 2003.

Officials will also unveil signage for Desert Cactus Street, formerly Robert E. Lee Street. Critics say having a street named for the Confederate general glorifies the pro-slavery Confederacy.

For years, critics have urged the street name changes. But it wasn’t until last year’s rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and talk of racial reckoning that the issue gained momentum.

The Phoenix City Council approved both new names.

Residents react to change

Some residents disagreed, arguing it would force them to change their addresses on personal documents and records.

"I'm mad as hell this whole thing was pushed into the throats of the residents," said Rick Klawitter.

Klawitter says he is not opposed to the reason behind a new name, but the changes he will have to make.

"There are so many places that addresses exist, that our addresses are part of our records. Online shopping, banking, all the city services, but it doesn't matter. They don't care about that," said Klawitter.

Councilman Carlos Garcia says the name changes will be tough for some, but he hopes everyone "shows the same grace as we continue to push policy changes for black lives."

Robert E. Lee and Squaw Peak Drive Renaming Process

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