NY governor asks Army to reconsider Confederate street names after Charlottesville

NY governor asks Army to reconsider Confederate street names after Charlottesville

The governor of New York is asking the Army to reconsider renaming two streets at a base in Brooklyn after Confederate generals following an outbreak of violence over Confederate statues.

Several New York lawmakers asked the Army to rename the streets earlier this year, but the Army denied the request. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is renewing the request in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va., that left dead one person who was countering opponents of the city's removal of a Confederate statue. 

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“Given the events of this week, including the violence and terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville and the resulting emboldening of the voices of Nazis and white supremacists, I now strongly urge the U.S. Army to reconsider its decision and I call on them to rename these streets,” Cuomo wrote in a letter to acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Wednesday.

At issue are two streets in Fort Hamilton: Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue. Both Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson spent time at the base in the 1840s, years before the start of the Civil War.

The Army previously countered that the streets were named after Lee and Jackson in the “spirit of reconciliation” and that renaming them could be controversial.

“After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive,” Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army Diane Randon wrote in a letter to Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.). “This is contrary to the nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”

The debate over Confederate monuments has reignited after the deadly clashes in Charlottesville, which started as a protest organized by white supremacists, KKK members and neo-Nazis against the Charlottesville city council’s decision to remove a statue of Lee.

Since the weekend, several other cities have moved to take down Confederate monuments.

President Trump pushed back against the initiatives to remove Confederate memorials during a press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, where he also asserted there were “very fine people” among those protesting the statue removal.

“This week, it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump said.

In his letter Wednesday, Cuomo condemned Trump and said symbols such as the street names have “no place in New York.”

“Unlike President Trump, we stand together to say that there are not many sides to hatred and bigotry; they do not belong in our communities and must be denounced for what they are,” Cuomo wrote. “Renaming these streets will send a clear message that in New York, we stand against intolerance and racism, whether it be insidious and hidden or obvious and intentional.”

The chief of staff of the Army is among the service chiefs who have condemned racism in the wake of Charlottesville.

“The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism or hatred in our ranks,” Gen. Mark Milley wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “It's against our values and everything we've stood for since 1775.”