Brooklyn borough president condemns NYC street named for Confederate Army leader

Eric adams rob ford
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams AP/Business Insider

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (D) has joined the push to rename a street named for Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Fort Hamilton, which is New York’s only US military base.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, Adams called for “a panel of historians and local leaders” to determine more appropriate names for “General Lee Avenue” and a street on the base named for another Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson.

“We can no longer accept a single government site in this nation, not a street, school, or military installation, named for an individual who fought to preserve slavery in America. Any symbol that may be used to create division and discord is a potential danger to our civic unity and should be treated as such,” Adams said. “I am calling on the Department of the Army and members of Congress to take immediate steps to rename General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive at Fort Hamilton. Fort Hamilton has a proud history in Brooklyn of protecting our shores and preserving our freedom; let us commission a panel of historians and local leaders to determine heroes truly befitting of having their names memorialised inside this post.”

Business Insider highlighted the existence of “General Lee Avenue” on Monday. The June 17 shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina reignited a nationwide debate over Confederate flags and symbols. Dylann Roof, the alleged shooter, has been linked to a website that featured Confederate imagery and a racist manifesto.

General Lee Avenue, which is about a half mile long, is the main street on Fort Hamilton. Robert E. Lee served at the base in the 19th Century while he was in the US Army.

At least ten US military bases are named for Confederate figures. In the wake of the Charleston church shooting, the Army released a statement indicating it does not currently have plans to change the names of any of its facilities.

Business Insider reached out to a spokesman for Fort Hamilton on Monday. They declined to comment on whether the base has received any complaints about the street names. The spokesperson emphasised the base is federally owned land and is outside of local jurisdiction.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D), who represents a district adjacent to Fort Hamilton, called for General Lee Avenue to be renamed on June 23. The Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network have also called for the name of the street to be changed. Sharpton is scheduled to lead a vigil to protest the street at Fort Hamilton on Saturday. Both Rep. Dan Donovan (R), who represents the district that includes the base, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) have not responded to requests for comment about “General Lee Avenue.”

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