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City of Phoenix moving to change names of Robert E. Lee Street and Squaw Peak Drive, Gallego says

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the city will start the process to change the street names beginning July 1.

PHOENIX — Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said on Twitter Thursday that the city council is moving to change two street names in Phoenix, following weeks of protests over racial injustice and police brutality around the country after the death of George Floyd.

Gallego said the city is initiating the process to change the street names of Robert E. Lee Street and Squaw Peak Drive. 

The city will work with neighbors and staff to start the process on July 1.   

Robert E. Lee Street is named in reference to the Confederate soldier and commander during the Civil War, while "squaw" is a derogatory slur historically used to describe Native American women.

There has been pressure from citizens for leaders to change the street names in the past. 

RELATED: Debate over ‘Squaw Peak Drive' rages on years after peak renamed

Historical figures around the world have been reassessed following Floyd's death and the subsequent protests. 

Protesters in Richmond, Virginia, tore down a Christopher Columbus statue and the city also announced its intention to remove its Robert E. Lee statue. The US military is considering renaming bases honoring Confederate officers who defended slavery or fought against the Union. 

Even in England, protesters took down a statue of Edward Colston and rolled it into the harbor. Colston was a 17th-century slave trader. 

RELATED: Historical figures reassessed around globe after George Floyd's death

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Also in Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs called for the removal of the Confederate monument in Wesley Bolin Plaza in front of the Arizona State Capitol.

It's not the first time leaders have called for the monument to be removed.

"This monument, like many of its kind, was built at a time when our country was on the brink of major breakthroughs --- the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and more," Hobbs' letter from June 8 said. 

"It was a clear attempt to repudiate the progress of our country. Today, our nation once again faces a moment of transformation. Let us refuse to repeat the mistake of the past."

The Phoenix monument was erected in 1961 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy to memorialize Arizona Confederate soldiers.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said at a press conference last week that he would like a public process to determine whether the monument would be removed. 

RELATED: Arizona secretary of state calls for removal of Confederate monument at state Capitol

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