FORT HAMILTON, Brooklyn — The U.S. Army already shot down a request from New York’s representatives in Congress to change the names of Brooklyn streets bearing the names of Confederate general, but now Governor Andrew Cuomo has joined the call for change.
He and other government officials believe the existence of General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive in Fort Hamilton, the city’s only active military post, enforce notions of white supremacy. The issue has become especially charged since protests turned deadly after a group of white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
“The events of Charlottesville and the tactics of white supremacists are a poison in our national discourse, and every effort must be made to combat them,” Gov Cuomo said in a letter to the Army.
But the Army says the street names don’t promote Confederate ideologies. Army officials, in shooting down the initial request for change, said the street names are honoring the men as individuals.
“After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive,” an Army spokeswoman said. “This is contrary to the Nation’s original intent in naming those streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”
It’s unclear if the Army’s stance on this will change. The deadly clash in Charlottesville has led to an accelerated removal of Confederate statues nationwide.
That change is already happening in New York. Two plaques honoring Gen. Gee were removed from the grounds of a Brooklyn church Wednesday. Lee apparently planted a tree there while serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Hamilton in New York in the 1840s. Two decades later, he became a commander of the Confederate Army.
New York City is also getting in on the action. Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city plans to conduct a 90-day review of all symbols of hate on city property.
Removals are pending in the Bronx, where Lee and Jackson will be removed from the CUNY Hall of Great Americans at Bronx Community College, Gov. Cuomo said.
“There are many great Americans, many of them New Yorkers worthy of a spot in this great hall,” Gov. Cuomo said. “These two confederates are not among them.”