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NYC Deputy Mayor Calls For Removal Of Robert E. Lee's Name: 'This Is An Emotional Issue For Many People Like Me'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- New York City Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson made a heartfelt call on Thursday for the name of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to be removed from public spaces.

Thompson said the pain affects him personally, because his ancestors were enslaved on a plantation owned by Lee's father, Henry Lee III.

"This issue is an emotional issue for many people like me, and it's really hard for us to really feel fully part of this country that celebrates our ancestors' enslavement with names like that on military bases all across this country," he said.

During the daily press briefing, Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about a previous effort to have Lee's name removed from a street at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.

In wake of the 2017 clashes in Charlottesville, Va., New York Congresswoman Yvette Clarke and several other representatives asked the U.S. Army to remove Lee's name, along with that of Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also echoed their request.

WATCH: Mayor De Blasio, Deputy Mayor Thompson Hold Daily Briefing 

"Nothing should be named after Robert E. Lee at this point in history," de Blasio said Thursday. "He, by the way, was someone who was supposed to follow his oath to the United States of America and the United States Military and didn't -- on top of his many other sins and on top of the racism that he stood for."

The mayor said he would once again appeal to the military to rename the street, adding "his name should be taken off everything in America, period."

Both Lee and Jackson spent time at Fort Hamilton as part of their U.S. Army careers -- Lee in the early part of the 1840s and Jackson toward the end of that decade, well before the Civil War started in 1861.

In 2017, Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost told The Associated Press, "Every Army installation is named for a soldier who holds a place in our military history. Accordingly, these historic names represent individuals, not causes or ideologies. It should be noted that the naming occurred in the spirit of reconciliation, not division."

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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