“D.C. Council Members Spar Over Bill to Rename Good Hope Road SE to Marion Barry Avenue”

An emergency bill to change Good Hope Road SE to Marion Barry Avenue, after the former D.C. mayor, was blocked from Tuesday’s council agenda.

For years, D.C. has debated the merits of renaming a major thoroughfare in Southeast Washington in honor of Marion Barry, the four-term leader known as the “mayor for life” who died in 2014.

But one legislator’s push to rename the road right away has turned the issue from a longbrewing idea into a suddenly bitter disagreement among some D.C. Council members.

Trayon White Sr. (D), who represents Barry’s home of Ward 8, released a video on Instagram on Monday asking the ward’s residents to support his bill to rename Good Hope Road SE as Marion Barry Avenue.

White said that he had introduced emergency legislation to speedily rename the road but that Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) blocked White’s bill from the agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting.

“This is an insult to our intelligence and our democracy.

We need to decide what we need in our own community. We don’t need no one else deciding what we want for our people in our community,” White said in his Instagram video, saying that thousands of Ward 8 residents have signed a petition in favor of renaming the road.

He then urged residents to call Mendelson’s office to express their support for the bill, twice repeating Mendelson’s phone number.

“We had a champion, Marion Barry, our mayor for life who fought for us. And it’s time for us to fight for him,” White said.

At a news conference Monday about upcoming legislation, Mendelson said he blocked White’s bill from Tuesday’s agenda because he believes the bill should have a public hearing before the council votes on it.

The bill would have significant impact on residents and businesses: More than 1,000 would have to change their addresses to Marion Barry Avenue, Mendelson said.

“There’s this false narrative that I am opposed to the legislation.

I am not,” Mendelson said.

But, he said, he felt that to vote on the bill before a hearing on the permanent, rather than emergency, version of the legislation would be unfair and “disrespectful” to affected residents and business owners.

Council to Vote on Permanent Legislation Supported by 10 Members

The permanent legislation, which is supported by 10 of the council’s 13 members, is scheduled for a public hearing on Dec. 13, he said.

In a text message to The Washington Post, White said that he would support a public hearing but that he still wanted a rapid vote on the emergency legislation before the council term expires at the end of the year, which would mean the bill would be reintroduced next year.

Shortly after White posted his Instagram video on Monday, Mendelson said, a person called Mendelson’s office and made a violent threat.

He said it was the first time he has reported a threat to police in many years.

White said in a text message that he didn’t condone any threat.

The District erected a statue of Barry outside the seat of city government after his death, and more recently renamed a government building in his honor.

The proposal to rename Good Hope Road has been met with mixed reactions in Ward 8, where some have said they are reluctant to change the name of a street with a long history.

Barry himself once unsuccessfully tried to rename the road, proposing that it should honor human rights activist Marcus Garvey.

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