Community leaders and officials in Brooklyn are demanding that the Army take down the street names dedicated to General Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, icons of the pro-slavery south during the Civil War, at Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge.
Lee Avenue and Jackson Court, as well as a monument to Lee, surround the Army base in Bay Ridge. Local leaders have asked the Army in the past to take down those names, and on Tuesday, Rev. Khader El-Yateem, a city council candidate, echoed the request during a protest.
"We are demanding of our Army to rename the streets so everybody can feel welcome, respected and honored in our community," said El-Yateem. "We are pushing against the bigotry and hate in our country."
Aber Kawas, who lives in Bay Ridge, was among those who showed up Tuesday to protest the street names and monument.
"You have to understand what it feels like to walk by a street or a monument of somebody who fought for your continued enslavement," he said.
The Army responded to a similar demand from local lawmakers last month, and told News 4 Tuesday that it stands by that letter.
"The men in question were honored on Fort Hamilton as invidivuals, not as representatives of any particular cause or ideology," a spokesman said. "After over a century, any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive."
But controversial and divisive have taken on new meaning after the weekend tragedy in Charlottesville. The resulting outcry even prompted the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which owns the abandoned St. John's Episcopal Church in Bay Ridge, also known as Church of the Generals, to order the removal of a plaque dedicated to Robert E. Lee. The Diocese told News 4 the plaque, which was sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, will be gone by next week.
As for the Brooklyn protest, a spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio said, "These are reasonable concerns and requests. We are in the process of figuring out how to best play a role in this conversation."
President Trump, asked separately Tuesday about whether statues of Lee should be taken down during a Q-and-A with reporters at Trump Tower, said, "I would say that's up to a local town, community or the federal government."