Donald Trump has said he will “not even consider” changing the name of Army bases named for Confederate officers, as anti-racism protests continue across the country.
The president made the comments 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.
Mr Floyd’s death at the hands of a white police officer prompted calls for changes to police practices, an end to racial prejudices and sparked protests all over the world.
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.”
Mr Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy on Monday said they were “open to a bipartisan discussion” of renaming bases such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Georgia’s Fort Benning.
Supporters of disassociating military bases from Confederate Army officers argue that they represent the racism and divisiveness of the Civil War era, glorifying men who fought against the US.
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.
He believes that doing so would amount to “complete disrespect” for soldiers who trained there over the years, Ms McEnany said.
The possibility of renaming the bases is “an absolute non-starter” for the president and Mr Trump would not sign legislation requiring name changes even if Congress were to pass it, she added.
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.