Kansas City to remove King's name from street

In this photo taken April, 20, 2019, a newly changed sign for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard stands in contrast to a yet-to-be changed sign for The Paseo in Kansas City, Mo. More than 50 years after King was assassinated, the city's efforts to honor the civil rights leader has met opposition from citizens opposed to the renaming of The Paseo, one of the city's iconic boulevards. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City voters have overwhelmingly approved removing the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from a city boulevard in favor of the street’s original name, The Paseo.

Unofficial results show the vote to remove King’s name received nearly 70% of the Tuesday’s vote, with just over 30% voting to retain King’s name.

The vote came after months of heated debate that began shortly after the city council voted in January to name the 10-mile (16.09-kilometer) boulevard that runs through a mostly black area of the city after the civil rights icon. Kansas City was one of the last large cities in the U.S. to name a street for King.

A group called “Save the Paseo” in April turned in far more than the 1,700 signatures needed to get the issue on the ballot. They argued the city council didn’t follow proper procedures when it renamed the street.

Mostly black civil rights leaders who worked for years to secure King’s name accused “Save the Paseo” of being racist and warned the city’s reputation would suffer if his name is removed.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)