A Ku Klux Klan plaque hangs at the entrance to the United States Military Academy Science Center at West Point, a congressional commission has found.
In a report released this month, the Naming commission, which reviews Department of Defense assets in an effort to identify and remove Confederate commemorations, included a photo of the bronze plaque. The words “KU KLUX KLAN” are below a depiction of a person in a balaclava, holding a gun.
The plaque is part of a triptych at the entrance to Bartlett Hall, West Point’s science center, according to the commission.
The panel said it had no authority to recommend the removal of the plaque because it was not specifically a Confederate monument.
“However, there are clear links between the KKK and the Confederacy,” the report said. “The Commission encourages the Secretary of Defense to address DoD assets that prominently feature the KKK in defense memorialization processes and to create a standard disposition requirement for those assets.”
In a statement, the US Military Academy said the triptych was dedicated June 3, 1965 to West Point graduates who served in World II and Korea.
The statement notes that the triptych also depicts the Tree of Life to symbolize “how our nation has prospered despite its tragedies.”
“West Point does not condone, condone or promote racism, sexism or any other bias,” the statement read. “The Academy continues to graduate its most diverse classes ever with respect to ethnicity, gender, experience and background.”
The Congress Committee was created as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
The eight-person panel’s August report focused on West Point and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
In addition to the KKK plaque, West Point has several monuments and buildings commemorating Confederate soldiers, which the commission recommended be removed or renamed. Five areas of West Point, including a child care center, are named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
“There is no doubt that Robert E. Lee fought for the Confederacy: he was its most effective and legendary leader, and by the end of the Civil War Lee had become General-in-Chief of the armies of the Confederates. Confederate States,” the report said. said.
“The consequences of his decisions were vast and destructive,” he said. “Lee’s armies were responsible for killing more American soldiers than virtually any other enemy in our nation’s history.”
Costs to rename parts of West Point and the Naval Academy would range from $1,000 to $300,000, according to the report.
The Department of Defense has until 2024 to “remove all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America,” according to the National Defense Authorization Act for the financial year 2021.
The Naming Commission will submit its third and final report before October.
The Stella team contributed.