City officials call for change after vandalism of Robert E. Lee Road signs

Neighbors who live on the road say the vandalism is wrong and Lee is a part of their history. But some city leaders are calling for a name change.

AUSTIN - After four Robert E. Lee Road signs were defaced in South Austin Sunday, city officials are calling for change.

The road is named after the Confederate general and has become a point of controversy among some residents. This act of vandalism in Austin comes after a white nationalist rally was held in Virginia.

City officials such as Greg Casar are calling for change.

He tweeted on Saturday, "In Austin it's time we rename Robert E. Lee Rd & reshape budgets & policies to march toward racial justice."

Mayor Steve Adler told KVUE News Monday, "I think it's something the city needs to look at and discuss. Personally, I think it's time for us to change the name on those signs."

Residents in the area are also reacting to the vandalism.

"My family built here in 1952," said Joe Joseph, a long-time resident of the road.

He said the vandalism is unfortunate, and it is the first time he has seen the signs painted over.

"It's part of history," Joseph said. "It shouldn't be defaced. And Robert E. Lee was a Confederate general, but he was also a graduate of West Point -- just like Grant ... so he should be respected just like any other."

Wallace Kessler, another long-time resident of Robert E. Lee Rd. said removing Confederate history will not happen by breaking the law.

"Do not take it into your own hands to deface signs," Kessler said.

The city's transportation department said the vandalized signs will be replaced, because the material to remove graffiti may cause damage. Replacement costs about $700.

Currently, there's a petition on MoveOn.org gathering signatures to rename Robert E. Lee Road. As of Monday, Aug. 14, it's garnered over 600 signatures with a goal of 750.

To find out how to get road names changed, go here for an explanation from the city.

© 2017 KVUE-TV


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