Diocese Purges Plaques

A crew working with the Diocese of Long Island cuts away one of two plaques commemorating Robert E. Lee. • Episcopal Diocese of Long Island

Two plaques commemorating Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee are being removed from a former church building in Brooklyn.

Newsday reports that the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island has decided to remove the plaques from the lawn of St. John’s Church, Fort Hamilton.

“I think it is the responsible thing for us to do,” the Rt. Rev. Lawrence Provenzano told Newsday. “People for whom the Civil War is such a critical moment — and particularly the descendants of former slaves — shouldn’t walk past what they believe is a church building and see a monument to a Confederate general.”

The plaques, installed in the early 20th century by the New York Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, commemorate a tree said to have been planted by Lee while he was stationed at Fort Hamilton.

The church has not been in active use since 2014 and is being sold.

The AP reported in July about growing pressure on officials to rename streets dedicated to Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Fort Hamilton. U.S. Reps. Yvette Clarke, Hakeem Jeffries, Jerrold Nadler, and Nydia Velazquez wrote to Army Secretary Robert Speer in June to demand that the streets be renamed.

“To honor these men who believed in the ideology of white supremacy and fought to maintain the institution of slavery constitutes a grievous insult to the many thousands of people in Brooklyn who are descendants of the slaves held in bondage,” they wrote.


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