Bay Ridge

El-Yateem demands street name change at Ft. Hamilton

‘Memorializing Confederate generals has no place in 2017’ he says

August 15, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Rev. Khader El-Yateem (left), pictured with voters at a Summer Stroll on 3rd event, has joined a chorus of community activists demanding name changes at Fort Hamilton. Eagle photo by John Alexander
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As the fallout from the Charlottesville tragedy continued to unfold across the nation, a Bay Ridge City Council candidate joined an ongoing effort by Democratic elected officials to push the U.S. Army to strip the names of Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from street signs on the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton.

The Rev. Khader El-Yateem, a Democrat running in next month’s primary for the seat in the 43rd Council District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst), said the Army should rename “General Lee Avenue” and “Stonewall Jackson Drive” on the military installation located in Bay Ridge. Lee and Jackson were both stationed at Fort Hamilton in the 1840s.

“Memorializing Confederate generals has no place in 2017, and certainly not in my neighborhood,” El-Yateem said in a statement. “I fought to keep the Fort Hamilton Army Base open, and now I am fighting to keep it accountable.” 

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El-Yateem, who is the pastor of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in Bay Ridge, was referring to efforts mounted in the past by Bay Ridge civic and business leaders to prevent the federal government from closing Fort Hamilton under the Base Re-alignment and Closure Commission process.

The demand by El-Yateem is part of a national wave of communities calling for the removal of monuments and street names celebrating the Confederacy and the country’s history of slavery.

In light of what happened in Charlottesville, the Army should re-evaluate its position and rename the streets immediately, according to El-Yateem.

Another Bay Ridge City Council candidate, Democrat Justin Brannan, also supports the name-change effort.

“I’m glad to see that the movement to rename the streets bearing Confederate general names at Ft. Hamilton is once again gaining momentum. I supported this change when the Brooklyn Congressional Delegation called for it in 2015 and I stand with those working to remove them now,” Brannan said in a statement. “White supremacy and racism have no place in the United States and certainly have no place in Bay Ridge.”

U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams have reviewed calls they had previously made for the army to change the names of General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Drive.

“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,” Clarke (D-Central Brooklyn) said in a statement.

Adams used his Twitter account to get his point across. “In the wake of #Charlottesville, I renew my call to have the @USArmy rename General Lee Avenue and Stonewall Jackson Way at #FortHamilton,” he tweeted.

Clarke, Adams and several other officials, including U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-East New York-Canarsie-Coney Island), have been pushing for two years for the names to be stripped from the street signs.

The Army has refused to give in to the demands.

“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 recent letter to Clarke. 

The ugly events in Charlottesville took place on Saturday when white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups gathered to protest the city’s plans to remove a statue of Lee and to hold a “Unite the Right” rally. They were met by counter-protesters. Brawls broke out between the two groups.

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.

 


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