Brooklyn Church Removes Two Plaques Honoring Robert E. Lee

BROOKLYN (Hamodia/AP) —
Robert E. Lee plaque
Workers remove the plaque from a tree planted by Robert E. Lee on the property of St. John’s Episcopal Church in bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Leaders of a New York Episcopal diocese have removed two plaques honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a church property in Brooklyn.

A spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island says the plaques outside St. John’s Episcopal Church were removed Wednesday.

The United Daughters of the Confederacy markers commemorated the spot where Lee is said to have planted a tree while serving in the Army at nearby Fort Hamilton in the 1840s. Two decades later, he became commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.

The removal comes in the wake of last weekend’s deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where white supremacists protested plans to remove a Lee statue from a public park. Furthermore, several of Brooklyn’s representatives to Congress, led by Rep. Yvette Clarke, recently requested that the Army rename streets in Fort Hamilton that are named for Confederate Generals Lee and Stonewall Jackson. The Army rejected the request.

In a statement to Hamodia Wednesday, Clarke praised the diocese’s decision to remove the plaques and once again called on the Army to rename the Fort Hamilton streets.

“I want to commend Bishop Lawrence Provenzano and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island for removing Confederate monuments from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn,” said Clarke. “These commemorations of the Confederacy have been used to glorify individuals who waged war against the United States to defend the evil institution of slavery and remain symbols of white supremacy that are deeply troubling to many people in our community, including troops stationed at Fort Hamilton. I urge the Department of the Army to follow this action by renaming the nearby streets that honor Confederate generals.”

Robert E. Lee plaque
The plaques lie on the ground after their removal. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also called on the Army to rename the Fort Hamilton streets. In a letter Wednesday to Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Cuomo wrote that “given the events of this week, including the violence and terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists in Charlottesville and the resulting emboldening of the voices of Nazis and white supremacists,” he is urging the Army to rename those streets.

“The events of Charlottesville and the tactics of white supremacists are a poison in our national discourse, and every effort must be made to combat them,” wrote Cuomo.

“Symbols of slavery and racism have no place in New York. In our state, we condemn the language and violence of white supremacy in no uncertain terms. Unlike President Trump, we stand together to say that there are not many sides to hatred and bigotry; they do not belong in our communities and must be denounced for what they are. Renaming these streets will send a clear message that in New York, we stand against intolerance and racism, whether it be insidious and hidden or obvious and intentional.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also called on the Army Wednesday to rename the Fort Hamilton streets.

Adams had asked in 2015 that the Army rename the streets, but the request was denied.


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