President Trump’s question to reporters on Tuesday about the possibility of tearing down historical monuments has been answered by a Chicago pastor: “It’s time.”
Bishop James E. Dukes of Chicago’s Liberation Christian Center made headlines in the Windy City on Wednesday for calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rename Washington Park and remove a statue of the first U.S. president over his ties to slavery. Mr. Dukes told his Facebook flock that “it’s time” after Mr. Trump sparred with reporters over efforts to expunge Civil War-era monuments from existence.
“This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Mr. Trump asked reporters on Tuesday as he spoke on last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Protests over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. resulted in the killing of Heather Heyer, 32, when suspect James Alex Fields, 20, plowed his vehicle into a crowd.
“It’s time. Please read my letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and The Chicago Park District,” Mr. Dukes wrote on Facebook Tuesday night. “I’m calling on them to change the names of Washington and Jackson Park. Slave owners do not deserve the honor of our children playing in parks named after them. There is no way a Native American Community would allow a General Custer Park or a Jewish Community allow a Gestapo Park in their community.”
The pastor’s letter was reported by a local CBS affiliate on Wednesday and shared on local radio.
“I am feeling ambivalent that I would have to walk my child, attend a parade or enjoy a game of softball in a park that commemorates the memory of a slave owner,” Mr. Dukes continued. “Therefore, I call on the immediate removal of President George Washington and President Andrew Jackson names from the parks located on the southeast side of Chicago. They should not have the distinct honor of being held as heroes when they actively participated in the slave trade.”
The pastor’s letter neglected to mention Washington’s role in the Battle of Yorktown, a pivotal victory for the general that secured the nation’s independence from Great Britain.
Representatives for the mayor did not immediately respond to the station’s requests for comment.