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Pentagon leaders open to renaming Army bases named after Confederate leaders

Pentagon leaders open to renaming Army bases named after Confederate leaders
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Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: US, India to share satellite data | Allegations of racism at Virginia Military Institute | Navy IDs 2 killed in Alabama plane crash US, India to share sensitive satellite data Trump has list of top intelligence officials he'll fire if he wins reelection: report MORE and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthyRyan McCarthyOvernight Defense: National Guard says no federal requests for election security help | Dems accuse VA head of misusing resources | Army official links COVID-19 to troop suicides Esper ducks questions on military involvement in election Army secretary: No request for military intervention in election unrest MORE are open to renaming Army bases that are named after Confederate leaders, the Army said Monday.

"The secretary of Defense and secretary of the Army are open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic," an Army spokesman said.

The stance, which was first reported by Politico, marks a reversal from as recently as February, when the service told Task & Purpose it had no plans to change the name of any base, including those named after Confederate military officers.

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The about-face comes amid nationwide protests over police violence and racial injustice sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died when a police officer who has since been charged with second-degree murder knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

There are 10 Army bases around the country named for Confederate heroes: Fort Lee, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Gordon, Fort Bragg, Fort Polk, Fort Pickett, Fort A.P. Hill, Fort Rucker and Camp Beauregard.

The Army previously argued the bases were named in the “spirit of reconciliation.”

But the service has been under increasing pressure to rename the bases, with advocates for doing so arguing it is not appropriate to honor those who betrayed the country and fought to preserve slavery. A New York Times editorial last month said the bases “celebrate white supremacist traitors.”

The Army’s announcement also comes after the Marine Corps officially banned the display of the Confederate battle flag. On Friday, the Marine Corps issued guidance on removing public displays of the flag, including on clothing, mugs, posters and bumper stickers.

The guidance followed Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger’s announcement in February that he would ban the display of all Confederate-related symbols.

Updated at 7:40 p.m.