Hollywood Police says they are looking to crack down on the group responsible for painting over street signs named for Confederate generals in the city. On Wednesday, New Times reported that a group calling itself #BlackOutWhiteSupremacy had claimed responsibility for painting over signs on Forrest Street and Lee Street as a form of protest.
"For years Hollywood, among many other cities in the U.S., has contributed to systematic racism by allowing the names of these atrocious Confederate solders to be glorified to this day," the group said in an email statement. "We have had to take matters into our own hands against white supremacy. We call on people of conscience to #BlackOutWhiteSupremacy. Hollywood needs to set the example for the rest of the country to combat seemingly innocuous acts of racism in our communities."
On Thursday, police responded, calling the protest an act of vandalism and placing extra police to patrol North Surf Road and Forrest, and North Surf Road and Lee St.
"The Hollywood Police Department is currently conducting extra patrol on the affected streets," Hollywood Police Officer Meredith Elrich tells New Times. "Furthermore, we are conducting an investigation as well as following up on tips we are receiving."
It's been suggested that the blacking out of the street signs may have been inspired by a New Times article pointing out that not only does Hollywood have street signs named for Confederate generals, such as Generals Robert E. Lee, and Nathan Bedford Forrest — two of the South's most prominent soldiers — but that the city has decided not to change the street names in the past.
Yet now, in the midst of a national debate over Confederate flags being removed from the capitol grounds in South Carolina, and other places throughout the U.S. — including in Florida — #BlackOutWhiteSupremacy has challenged the City of Hollywood to "set the example."
"Hollywood deserves to have streets named after civil rights leaders, not historical racist," the group says.
Meanwhile, a similar fight has been taken up in Houston, where some citizens are calling on that city to change the names of street signs named after Confederate Generals as well.
As for Hollywood, changing the names could be a complicated issue.
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Commissioner Peter Hernandez, who didn't realize that there are street signs named for Confederate generals in the city, told the Sun-Sentinel that changing the names would be a "difficult task."
"Can it be done? Yes," he says. "Should it be done? I don't know. I don't think there was any hate intended when those names came up. Those street names have been there for decades."
New Times has reached out to #BlackOutWhiteSupremacy for comment, but have not received a response.
The Hollywood Police Department is asking that anyone who may have information regarding this act of vandalism to call the Hollywood Police Department at 954-764-4357. Tipsters can email or text to email@example.com. Information can also be given to Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS or browardcrimestoppers.org.