Brooklyn Boro

Charlottesville fallout hits Brooklyn

August 14, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Several hundred mourners gather Sunday, Aug. 13 at the site where a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist rally on Saturday in Charlottesville, Va. AP Photo/Steve Helber

Clarke, Adams renew call for street name changes at Ft. Hamilton

The fallout from the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend could be felt hundreds of miles north, in Brooklyn, as lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle condemned the violence that led to the deaths of three people.

Democratic lawmakers blasted President Donald Trump for not making a more forceful statement condemning white nation nationalists for the violence and two elected officials, U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, renewed calls they had previously made for the U.S. Army to remove the names of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from street signs on the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton in Bay Ridge.

Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) criticized the white nationalist protesters and Trump.

“What occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, was an act of domestic terrorism committed by white supremacists whose despicable beliefs represent the worst of American history,” Clarke said in a statement. “I will continue my fight to remove the name of this Confederate general as well as that of Stonewall Jackson from the streets of Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, New York, and eliminate this insult to the descendants of women and men who were held in bondage.”

Trump condemned the violence in Charlottesville, calling it an “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence,” but adding that there was hatred and violence “on many sides.”

Clarke’s reaction to the president’s statement was a one word response of incredulity. “Really?” the congressmember asked.

“At best this was him being totally detached from reality and an honest misunderstanding of the real situation or at worst a demonstration of solidarity with the white supremacists who marched in his name,” Clarke added.

Adams tweeted, “In the wake of #Charlottesville, I renew my call to have the @USArmy rename General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Way at #FortHamilton.”

Lee and Jackson served at Fort Hamilton in the 1840s. Clarke, Adams and several other officials, including U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-East New York-Canarsie-Coney Island), have been pushing for their names to be stripped from the street signs.

Thus far, the Army has refused. “After over a century any effort to rename memorializations on Fort Hamilton would be controversial and divisive. This is contrary to the nation’s original intent in naming these streets, which was in the spirit of reconciliation,” Diane M. Randon, a senior Army official, wrote in a letter to Clarke. 

The ugly events in Charlottesville took place when white nationalists gathered in that city to protest plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee and to hold a “Unite the Right” rally. They were met by counter-protesters. Brawls broke out between the two groups, The New York Times reported.

At one point, a car, allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio, plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others.

Two state troopers, H. Jay Collen and Berke Bates, were killed when the helicopter they were riding in to monitor the crowds crashed.

Jeffries tweeted a response to the events in Charlottesville: “KKK/Neo Nazis have ALWAYS been domestic terrorists. It’s time we treat them as such #Charlottesville.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) took to twitter to criticize Trump. “Of course we condemn ALL that hate stands for. Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasnt [sic] done his job,” Schumer tweeted.

On Sunday, the White House issued a statement seeking to clarify Trump’s previous statement.

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course, that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups,” the statement read.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) condemned the violence by white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but also wrote about her personal reaction. “The images out of Charlottesville are some of the worst I’ve seen in America in my adult life,” she tweeted.

“This sickening demonstration in Virginia displayed pure hatred, bigotry and ignorance, and acts like this will not be permitted in the cultural melting pot of the 43rd Assembly District,” said Assemblymember Diana Richardson, who represents the district.

“We have come too far as a nation, and a community to allow this sheer act of intimidation to set the clock back hundreds of years on inclusion and diversity, which we have fought so hard for,” Richardson (D-Crown Heights) added.

U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) issued a statement on Saturday and wrote on Twitter. “My prayers are with all those affected by today’s violence in #Charlottesville. Hate and bigotry have no place in our great nation,” he tweeted.