Rev. Al Sharpton wants a new name for “General Lee Avenue” in Brooklyn, New York.
The street, which runs through the center of Fort Hamilton, which is New York City’s only US military base, was named in honour of Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate troops during the Civil War. Lee served at Fort Ha from 1841-1846 while he was in the US Army.
Sharpton’s organisation, the National Action Network sent out a press release Wednesday announcing the group’s northeast regional director, Minister Kirsten John Foy, will be holding a press conference outside the base on Thursday. The release said Foy will “denounce” the street as well as the “recent discovery of a Confederate Flag painting on the ceiling of the second floor of the New York State Capitol waiting room in the Governor’s office.” Additionally, Sharpton is scheduled to hold a vigil on General Lee Avenue on Saturday.
The June 17 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina has reignited a nationwide debate over Confederate symbols. Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter, has been linked to a website that included a racist manifesto and photos of him along with Confederate paraphernalia.
Business Insider highlighted the existence of General Lee Avenue on Monday.
Sharpton is not the first leader to condemn the street since then. On Tuesday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York), who represents a district adjacent to Fort Hamilton, issued a statement calling for General Lee Avenue to be renamed. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and Rep. Dan Donovan (R-New York), who represents the district that includes the base, have not responded to requests for comment about the street.
On Monday, Business Insider reached out to a spokesperson for Fort Hamilton. They declined to comment on whether the base has received any complaints about General Lee Avenue. The base spokesperson noted it is landmarked federal property and outside of local jurisdiction.
There are multiple US Army installations named for Confederate military figures. According to a Pentagon spokesman who spoke to The Hill, there’s currently “no discussion” about renaming these facilities.
“The services are ultimately responsible for naming their own military installations, and as of now, there are no current plans to change policies regarding how installations are named,” Army Col. Steve Warren said.
Additionally, the Army issued a statement on Wednesday explaining the current naming procedures.
“Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history,” Army Chief of Public Affairs Brig. Gen. Malcolm B. Frost said, adding, “Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division.”
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