In a letter sent to the New York congressional delegation over the weekend, the Army said it understood the concerns over General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Way in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, but said the names would would remain, according to WPIX-TV.
Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jackson served as US Army officers at the Brooklyn fort, before joining the Confederacy during the 1861-65 Civil War.
Removing their names would be “controversial” and contrary to the “spirit of reconciliation,” Diane Randon, the Army’s deputy assistant chief of staff for installation management, wrote in the letter to lawmakers. “The men in question were honored on Fort Hamilton as individuals, not as representatives of any particular cause or ideology.”
Representative Yvette Clarke (D-New York), said she was disappointed with the Army’s decision.
“These monuments [sic] 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 said in a statement.
Rather than reconciliation, she said, the tribute shows complicity by the North and the South to ignore the interests of African Americans and enforce white supremacy, effectively denying the results of the Civil War for generations.
“We are still living with the failure of this nation to fully accept that result, as well as the post-Civil war amendments that were ratified to establish the freedom of women and men who had been held in bondage,” added Clarke.
The initial request, authored by Clarke and signed by her fellow Democrats Nydia Velazquez, Jerrold Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries, came in June this year, after several Confederate monuments were taken down in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Clarke said she will continue to petition the Army to rename the Fort Hamilton streets.
“The department describes any possible renaming of these streets as potentially ‘controversial.’ Nonsense,” she said.
Lee commanded the Confederate forces in Virginia from June 1862 to April 1865, when he surrendered. Jackson, who was known as “Stonewall” for his brigade’s stand in the First Battle of Manassas, commanded a corps under Lee until he was killed in a friendly-fire incident during the May 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville.