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Thousands sign petition to rename Dallas street ‘Botham Jean Way’

By Dana Branham

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Chris Norman (right) started the online petition calling for Lamar Street in Dallas to be renamed “Botham Jean Way.”

(DALLAS MORNING NEWS) — Nearly 40,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Lamar Street — where Dallas’ police headquarters is located — to be renamed for Botham Jean, the 26-year-old man fatally shot last year by former Dallas officer Amber Guyger.

Chris Norman, 40, said he started the petition on an impulse after Guyger was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison.

Guyger and Jean both lived on Lamar Street at the time of the shooting. Guyger, 31, has said she mistook Jean’s apartment for her own the night of Sept. 6, 2018, and fatally shot him at the South Side Flats apartment complex.

Norman said he was watching Police Chief U. Reneé Hall’s news conference after the sentence, where she said she was “fully committed” to making changes in the department in response to incidents revealed during Guyger’s trial. Norman said he didn’t know Jean, but he followed the trial closely.

Norman said his pastor, the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III of Friendship-West Baptist Church, is always challenging his congregants to find a way to make a difference.

“I was like, ‘OK, what can I do?’” Norman said. “Obviously changing the name of a street is not going to help the family or bring Botham Jean back, but it was just something that I felt would be a good honor.”

Since he started the petition, Norman said, people have pointed out to him that there may be costs involved with changing the street’s name to Botham Jean Way and that it might pose an issue for businesses to have to change their addresses. But he said the petition is mainly symbolic — he wants to show that there’s support for a street named after Jean, he said.

“If my life was ended or cut short … especially at the hands of injustice, I would hope that somebody would remember me or fight for my justice,” he said.

The attention the petition received surprised Norman, who said he didn’t expect even 50 people to sign on, much less thousands.

To get a street name changed in Dallas, an application has to be submitted to the Sustainable Development and Construction Department. From there, it undergoes staff review and has to be considered in a City Plan Commission meeting before it goes to the City Council for a final decision.

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