The U.S. Army denied requests from several New York Democrats to rename streets on the city’s Fort Hamilton military installation.
The Bay Ridge, Brooklyn property is a base for the New York Army National Guard and Reserves and was a key U.S. battery during the Revolution and World War II.
Fort Hamilton – which sits at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge – combined with Fort Wadsworth on the Staten Island side to serve as a crucial defense of New York Harbor.
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D) of Brooklyn was one of several city Democrats who demanded that streets on the base like “General Lee Avenue” and “Stonewall Jackson Drive” be renamed.
Clarke joined Nydia Velazquez, Hakeem Jeffries and Jerrold Nadler in sending a letter of protest to the Army over the Confederate names.
“These monuments are deeply offensive to the hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn residents and members of the armed forces stationed at Fort Hamilton whose ancestors Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson fought to hold in slavery,” Clarke wrote, according to the New York Daily News.
“For too many years, the United States has refused to reckon with that history,” she said.
The Army’s deputy assistant chief of staff, Diane Randon, told Clarke that changing the names would be “contrary to the Nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was the spirit of reconciliation.”
Clarke said she will continue to protest the street names, and several Bay Ridge residents told the Daily News they understood the Army’s view but agree with the congresswoman.
One local veteran said Lee and Jackson betrayed the Union and added that if the Army was to rename the avenues it would be an admission that they were wrong to bestow the names in the first place.
Rep. Dan Donovan (R-N.Y.), who represents the fort, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the controversy from local TV station NY-1.