ST. BERNARD PARISH, LA (WVUE) - St. Bernard Parish officials struck down a petition to rename a street. Council voted unanimously on Tuesday against renaming a half-mile stretch of road.
The street at the center of controversy is Colonial Blvd., a small residential street in Violet, Louisiana. A petition circulated in the parish to change the street name to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
The name change proposal was submitted by the Rev. Kevin Gabriel, who is the parish's NAACP president. Gabriel said he circulated a petition in March to get a feel for what the residents thought.
The petition sparked heated debate in St. Bernard Parish with racial overtones.
"My experience is that streets that are named MLK have been crime-ridden, drug-infested and unfortunately, it's known to be black populated," one St. Bernard resident said.
While the majority of homeowners on Colonial Boulevard are black, Gabriel said this is not a racial issue.
"All people should see what Dr. King was about," Gabriel said. "He wasn't for the black. He saw the hearts of people, and that's what all people in St. Bernard should see - the hearts of people."
Many people who live on Colonial Blvd. signed the petition. Some who support the name change saw council's decision as a slap in the face.
Members of the St. Bernard NAACP say the plan to take the issue to the state level.