Congresswoman wants Pentagon to erase Confederate names from military bases

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Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) has announced plans to introduce a bill that would force the Defense Department to rename military installations and other properties named after Confederate soldiers or supporters.

As the violence in Charlottesville remains fresh in the minds of both citizens and elected officials, many government bodies are considering the implications of allowing Confederate symbols to remain on public display. The events in Charlottesville began with a protest over the removal of a Confederate statue in Lee park, as white supremacist organizers defended the statue.

Now, many are saying that the symbols of the Confederacy, which evoke such strong reactions, should not be displayed without context, and should probably be moved to museums or private collections.

Enter Rep. Clarke, who has announced plans to introduce her bill during a pro forma session Friday.

“The time has come for the Army to remove from Fort Hamilton and other military installations the disgraced names of men who waged war against the United States to preserve the evil institution of slavery,” Clarke said in a statement Thursday.

Clarke, along with three other New York Democrats, had previously requested that the Army rename streets named after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.

She now adds 10 military bases around the country, named after Confederate military members: Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.

“As recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, have made perfectly clear, these monuments are nothing more than symbols of white supremacy and a pretext for the violent imposition of an evil ideology that should never have persisted into the Twenty-First Century.”

In a letter sent in response to Clark’s original request to rename the streets at Fort Hamilton, the Army denied the request. Written by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army Diane Randon, the denial stated that it would be “contrary to the nation’s original intent” as the streets were named in the “spirit of reconciliation.”

Since the weekend violence erupted in Virginia, several cities have decided to take down Confederate monuments. They include:

  • In Lexington, Kentucky, the mayor announced Saturday that he is expediting plans to remove Confederate statues from public locations in the city.
  • In New York City, a plaque honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee that has been affixed to a maple tree outside a Brooklyn church for more than 100 years is being removed.
  • In California, a six-foot monument that has stood in a Confederate section of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery for almost 100 years is now coming down.
  • In Baltimore officials directed the removal of four Confederate statues from its city on Wednesday, completing the task overnight.
  • A pastor in Chicago announced Tuesday that he wanted two city parks to be renamed, claiming they are named after two former U.S. presidents who owned slaves – Washington and Jackson. He said the parks could be named after African American heroes instead, such as Harold Washington, Jesse Jackson and Michael Jackson.

The families of the figures these monuments represent are also speaking out. According to some descendants of Confederate General’s Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, and of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, the confederate memorials need to be altered or removed.

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