Fort Hamilton in the shadows of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge contains street names honoring Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Elected officials have pushed for the names to be changed, but the U.S. Army has so far refused.
A new bill by Congresswoman Yvette Clarke would require the Department of Defense to change the names of the two streets.
“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,” she said in a statement. “Monuments to the Confederacy and its leaders have always represented white supremacy, and a continuing attempt to deny the basic human rights of African Americans.”
Clarke said the violence in Charlottesville made it clear that the monuments are symbols of white supremacy.
“For hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents, as well as troops stationed at Fort Hamilton who are prepared to fight for this nation, the monuments are an insult,” she said. “It is clear that these symbols remain an inspiration to some who espouse white supremacist ideology.”
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is one of several elected officials to co-sponsor the bill.
“Monuments to the confederacy are a sad celebration of the most shameful parts of our nation’s history,” she said. “Maintaining them in public places serves only to pay homage to the morally bankrupt ideology of white supremacism.
The fight to have the street names changed has gained support from other levels of government.
Governor Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter to the acting secretary of the Army urging him to rename the streets.
“Symbols of slavery and racism have no place in New York,” wrote Cuomo. “In our state, we condemn the language and violence of white supremacy in no uncertain terms.”
Earlier last week, a plaque commemorating Lee outside St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Hamilton was removed.
And Mayor Bill de Blasio is calling for a full review of all “symbols of hate” on city property. He announced the city will conduct a 90-day review of all symbols, starting with the removal of the commemoration for Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain in the Canyon of Heroes.