NEW YORK: New York authorities are taking steps to remove two busts of Confederate commanders from a “Hall of Fame” as America’s most populous city joins others in erasing symbols of the pro-slavery Civil War South.
Bronx Community College said the bust of General Robert E. Lee, the commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, and another of one of his top generals, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, would be removed in two to three days.
“We want to make it sure we get it done quickly, but without causing damage,” said Karla Williams, executive legal counsel at the College, which is part of The City University of New York.
The busts are part of a sweeping semi-circular Neo-classical arc featuring busts of 98 honorees as part of a “Hall of Fame for Great Americans” founded in 1900 and now a New York landmark.
US President Donald Trump condemned the removal of Confederate statues and has shrugged off blistering attacks after wading back into the charged racial debate in the wake of deadly violence at a neo-Nazi rally in Virginia.
A woman was killed and 19 other people injured when a suspected white supremacist drove his car into a group of anti-racism protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia at a rally called by white supremacists to protest plans to remove a Lee statue.
“New York stands against racism,” said State Governor Andrew Cuomo of the busts on Twitter. “There are many great Americans, many of them New Yorkers worthy of a spot in this great hall. These two confederates are not among them.”
There are many great Americans, many of them New Yorkers worthy of a spot in this great hall. These two confederates are not among them.
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) August 17, 2017
Two plaques honoring Lee were already removed from a Brooklyn church on Wednesday. Cuomo said he also asked the US Army to remove confederate names from streets on the Fort Hamilton military base in Brooklyn.
The Charlottesville violence has built momentum across the United States to remove symbols of the pro-slavery Civil War South.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed a 90-day review of “all symbols of hate” on city property and said a plaque dedicated to Nazi collaborator Philippe Petain, who led Vichy France during World War II, would be the first to go.
The Canyon occupies a stretch of Broadway in Manhattan’s Financial District. Plaques on the sidewalk commemorate those feted with a ticker-tape parade in New York — an honor that Petain received in 1931 as a World War I hero.
But he went on to lead the Vichy regime in France that collaborated with German Nazis from 1940-1944, which passed legislation severely discriminating against Jews, putting to death up to 15,000 people and helping deport nearly 80,000.