Hollywood officials say they support renaming KKK-linked street

Mayor Peter Bober says it is 'right thing to do'

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Hollywood Mayor Peter Bober voiced unequivocal support Wednesday for renaming Forrest Street, which was named decades ago after Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and a Confederate lieutenant general implicated in a massacre of black union soldiers. 

"The right thing to do is the right thing to do," Bober said.

Bober made his comments to Local 10 after the city's African American Advisory Council recommended renaming the street Tuesday night. Commissioner Dick Blattner told Local 10 that he also supports the name change, as did Commissioner Peter Hernandez, who said the KKK deserved no honor in the city.

"As someone who is Jewish, I would be very concerned if there was Heinrich Himmler Boulevard," Bober said. "That offends me, and so I have to presume that naming a street after someone who was a founder of the Ku Klux Klan, that should reasonably concern African Americans and non-African Americans in the city of Hollywood. That should be a concern to everybody."

Bober said before any vote all residents on the street should be notified and a public hearing held to determine the will of the community prior to any vote. Three of the seven commissioners -- Patty Asseff, Kevin Biederman, and Traci Callari -- have voiced doubt about renaming the street.

In a recent meeting, Asseff said it could set a bad precedent, saying that perhaps someone who doesn't like John F. Kennedy would ask that a street named for him be renamed as well. Callari told Local 10 that she doesn't support it because she doesn't believe it is right to "erase history," no matter how abhorrent it may be.

The mayor, however, said that city streets in Hollywood should be named after people who deserve to be honored.

"Our streets should be celebrating the people who we want to celebrate," Bober said.

Officials said the issue could be put on the commission's agenda as early as next month. Bober said he would like to see the issue settled before he steps down from office in November.