El-Yateem Urges Street Renaming at Ft. Hamilton

Rev. Khader El-Yateem at the rally outside Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. (Photo by Jonathan Sperling via Brooklyn Reporter)

Rev. Khader El-Yateem, Arab-American candidate for City Council, and other local leaders and residents in Bay Ridge urged Tuesday that two Brooklyn streets be renamed rather than continue to carry the names of Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee, reports Jonathan Sperling in Brooklyn Reporter.

The streets are at Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn, and U.S. Rep. Yvette Clark (D. – 9th) and others have previously urged that they be renamed. The U.S. Army has declined.

“We cannot claim to be fighting wars overseas and promoting democracy, equality and defending human rights while on our Army base, right here in our own neighborhood, we have signs that honor people who fought to preserve slavery in America,” said El-Yateem, who is also a candidate for the 43rd District Council seat.

El-Yateem specifically called upon Ryan McCarthy, acting secretary of the U.S. Army, to recognize that General Jackson and General Lee “were on the wrong side of history.”

Both Jackson and Lee were stationed at Fort Hamilton prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. According to El-Yateem, a plaque honoring Lee that is currently affixed to a tree on the property of St. John’s Episcopal Church (located on the corner of 99th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway) will be removed by the property’s new developer in the near future, pending court approval.

The rally came just a few days after white supremacists led violent protests against the removal of a statue of Gen. Lee in Charlottesville, VA.  Community organizer and South Brooklyn resident Aber Kawas, speaking at the Brooklyn rally, said “we’re rightfully and deeply disturbed by the events of this last weekend,” Brooklyn Reader reported. One woman died and several people were injured.

Read more comments from Kawas and others at the rally at Brooklyn Reporter.

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