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black lives matter

Trump rules out changing names of US military bases named after Confederate leaders

The demand for renaming the bases gathered momentum in the wake of protests.

US PRESIDENT DONALD Trump has ruled out a change to US military bases named after Confederate leaders in the US  Civil War.

The demand for renaming the bases gathered momentum in the wake of mass protests across the United States against police brutality and racism against African-Americans.

Ten bases named after generals from the secessionist South, which lost the Civil War and its effort to preserve slavery, are in the spotlight.

They include Fort Bragg in North Carolina, Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Benning in Georgia.

But Trump pushed back on pressure to rid public places of reminders of the once pro-slavery South.

“These monumental and very powerful bases have become part of a great American heritage, and a history of winning, victory, and freedom,” he said in a tweet that was also read out by his spokeswoman at a press conference.

“My administration will not even consider renaming these magnificent and fabled military installations. Our history as the greatest nation in the world will not be tampered with,” he wrote.

Anger from anti-racism protesters has also focused on statues of southern Civil War heroes and most lately a statue of explorer Christopher Columbus, who opened the Americas to European settlement.

A statue of Columbus in Boston was beheaded today, following the vandalising of another statue of the Italian in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this week.

The incidents come as pressure builds in the US to rid the country of monuments associated with racism following massive demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.

Italian explorer Columbus, long hailed by school textbooks as the discoverer of “The New World” is considered by many to have spurred years of genocide against indigenous groups in the Americas.

He is regularly denounced in a similar way to Civil War generals of the pro-slavery south.

Dozens of American cities have over the years replaced Columbus Day in October – which became a federal holiday in 1937 – with a day of tribute to “indigenous peoples.” 

But Boston and New York, which have large Italian-origin communities, have resisted the move.

In Ireland, People Before Profit have called for a memorial to Colmbus near Spanish Arch in Galway to be removed as a show of solidarity with Black Lives Matter Protests.

Nascar also announced this evening that it would prohibit the Confederate flag from races in future.

Meanwhile, CNN has criticised as “factually and legally baseless” a letter from Trump’s campaign demanding an apology for a poll by the network that showed Joe Biden leading an opinion poll ahead of this year’s presidential election.

In a tweet to Trump’s senior legal adviser, the network said it was the first time in its history that it had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like its polling results.

“It is yet another bad faith attempt by the campaign to threaten litigation to muzzle speech it does not want voters to read or hear,” the letter read.

“Your allegations and demands are rejected in their entirety.”

- © AFP 2020 with additional reporting by Stephen McDermott

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