De Blasio says anything named after Robert E. Lee in NYC 'has to go' amid push to rename streets

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that nothing should be named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee "at this point in history" as officials push for the renaming of streets named for Lee and fellow Confederate general Stonewall Jackson at a Brooklyn military base.

"Nothing should be named after Robert E. Lee at this point in history," de Blasio told reporters. "Anything named after him has to go in this city."

"And by the way," de Blasio added of Lee, "he was someone who was supposed to follow his oath to the United States of America and the United States military and he didn't.”

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On Thursday, Reps. Max Rose, D-N.Y., and Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper requesting that Stonewall Jackson Drive and General Lee Avenue at the Army installation Fort Hamilton be given different monikers.

Both Lee and Jackson were stationed at the base in the 1840s, with Lee serving as post engineer between 1841 and 1846.

"We hope that you will act swiftly to rename the streets in Fort Hamilton and all places named after Confederate figures," the letter from Rose and Clarke read.

"It is impossible to disentangle these men’s identities as individuals from the cause they rebelled against our nation to defend," it continued. "U.S. military bases and property should be named after men and women who’ve served our nation with honor and distinction, not sought to tear it apart to uphold white supremacy."

In 2017, a memorial plaque commemorating Lee was removed from a tree outside St. Johns Episcopal Church near the base following racially charged protests and violence in Charlottesville. Lee was a member of the vestry at the church.

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The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month has revitalized the debate over Confederate memorials and other remembrances across the U.S. Prominent former military leaders, including former CIA Director David Petraeus, have called for the renaming of military bases named after Confederate officers.

On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted: “These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a [...] history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom. The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.”