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A Brooklyn community meeting this week found that committee members strongly objecting to a recent petition to rename the corner of St. James Place and Fulton Place to Christopher Wallace Way, in honor of the legendary late rapper Notorious B.I.G., who grew up there.
“He started selling drugs at 12, he was a school dropout at 17, he was arrested for drugs and weapons charge,” railed Brooklyn Community Board No. 2 member Lucy Koteen during the October 15th meeting, DNAInfo New York reports. “He was arrested for parole violations, he was arrested in North Carolina for crack cocaine, in 1996 he was again arrested for assault, he had a violent death and physically the man is not exactly a role model for youth. I don’t see how this guy was a role model and frankly it offends me.”
“It didn’t seem to me like this man was worthy of being rewarded in this way,” she said. “He does not seem like the kind of role model that we would want to emulate,”
Another board member and local business owner, Kenn Lowy, also chimed in, stating his disapproval at Biggie’s use of derogatory terms for women in his song lyrics.
The initial petition to rename the street was launched by local resident LeRoy McCarthy, who responded to the scathing commentary against the rapper after the meeting.
“There are many artists that share stories in a vernacular that their audiences understand,” McCarthy said regarding the claims that Notorious B.I.G. wrote misogynistic lyrics. “Biggie used the language from the streets he grew up in to convey what he wanted to say,” adding that “board members should not hold Wallace’s physical appearance nor how he died against him.”
While the debate rages, the fate of the street name change hinges on a letter of support from councilwoman and candidate for public advocate, Letitia James, who has yet to comment on the petition.
In defense of the name change, McCarthy presented the meeting with letters backing the idea from a wide range of boosters including local businesses, a mosque, two churches, a block association and more than 1000 from around the world who signed an online petition.
The issue has been tabled until the letter of support is issued by James or her successor, Laurie Cumbo, who is running unopposed for the 35th District City Council seat.