Donald Trump will 'not even consider' changing names of army bases named after Confederate officers

11 June 2020, 09:47

The President said he would not be changing the names of any of the ten bases which bear the names of Confederate military commanders
The President said he would not be changing the names of any of the ten bases which bear the names of Confederate military commanders. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Donald Trump said he will "not even consider" changing the name of the US Army bases named after Confederate Army officers as anti-racism protests continue across the country.

The President said he would not be changing the names of any of the ten bases which bear the names of Confederate military commanders despite pressure to rename them.

Mr Trump tweeted: "These Monumental and very Powerful Bases have become part of a Great American Heritage, a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.

"The United States of America trained and deployed our HEROES on these Hallowed Grounds, and won two World Wars. Therefore, my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations."

Supporters of disassociating military bases from Confederate Army officers argue that they represent the racism and divisiveness of the Civil War era and glorify men who fought against the United States.

Hours after the President made the comments, demonstrators forcibly removed a statue of Confederate former president Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia.

The President dismissed pressure to rename the bases
The President dismissed pressure to rename the bases. Picture: Twitter

Local media reported the statue was left on the ground in the middle of an intersection, while 80 miles away in Portsmouth a marching band played as a crowd beheaded then pulled down four statues that were part of a Confederate monument.

It comes days after Defence Secretary Mark Esper indicated he was open to discussing such changes and in the wake of the funeral of black man George Floyd, whose death prompted calls for changes to police practices and an end to racial prejudices.

Name changes have not been proposed by the army or the Pentagon, but Mr Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Monday told reporters they were "open to a bipartisan discussion" of renaming bases such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Georgia's Fort Benning.

Mr Trump's press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, read his tweets to reporters in the White House briefing room, adding he is "fervently" opposed to changing the base names and believes that doing so would amount to "complete disrespect" for soldiers who trained there over the years.

It comes as the president's most significant foe in Congress called for Confederate statues to be removed from the streets of the country's capital.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to a House-Senate committee with jurisdiction over the topic that such monuments "pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed".

Mrs Pelosi lacks the authority to order the removal of the 11 statues honouring Confederates, but is urging the little-noticed Joint Committee on the Library to vote to remove them.

Also on Wednesday, Mr Floyd's brother challenged Congress to ensure George would not be just "another name" on a growing list of those killed during interactions with police.

Philonise Floyd told a House hearing: "I'm here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain," Mr Floyd told the silenced hearing room.

Choking back tears, he said he wants to make sure that his brother, whom he called "Perry", is "more than another face on a T-shirt. More than another name on a list that won't stop growing".

He directly challenged politicians to step up. "The people marching in the streets are telling you enough is enough. Be the leaders that this country, this world, needs. Do the right thing," he said.

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