Federal commission finds KKK plaque with hooded figure at West Point building

A piece of art, called a triptych, at an entryway of the Bartlett Hall science center of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point includes a Ku Klux Klan marker on one of its three panels.

According to CNN, the Congressional Naming Commission noted in an August report that it discovered the words “Ku Klux Klan” beneath a depiction of a hooded figure holding a rifle. 

Although the plaque “falls outside” of the commission’s mandate  — since it is only tasked with identifying and making suggestions for new names for confederate markers at military facilities  — the commission determined that the KKK plaque has clear connections to the confederacy. 

KKK plaque
A plaque of a hooded figure holding a rifle and the words “Ku Klux Klan” appears on one of three bronze panels, installed at an entrance to Bartlett Hall at West Point, depicting the history of the United States. A commission Congress created to identify confederate markers at military sites took note of the plaque and issued a report saying that it “encourages the Secretary of Defense to address DoD assets that highlight the KKK in Defense Memorialization processes and create a standard disposition requirement for such assets.” (U.S. Military Academy at West Point via AP)

“The Commission encourages the Secretary of Defense to address DoD assets that highlight the KKK in Defense Memorialization processes and create a standard disposition requirement for such assets,” the report states in part.

According to CNN, the public affairs office at the military academy in New York state said in a statement that it does not support any form of bias. The office noted that the marker is part of a triptych of three panels, each one 11 feet by 5 feet, and “references the history of the United States as told in bronze relief.”

The sculpture was created by the late Laura Gardin Fraser, and it was dedicated in 1965 to West Point alums who fought in World War II and Korea.

“West Point does not accept, condone, or promote racism, sexism, or any other biases. The Academy continues to graduate its most diverse classes ever with respect to ethnicity, gender, experience, and background,” the statement read. 

Currently, West Point is analyzing the information from the commission. “We are reviewing the recommendations and will collaborate with the Department of the Army to implement changes, once approved,” the statement said. “West Point’s mission is to develop leaders of character who internalize Army Values, the ideals of Duty, Honor, Country, and the Army Ethic. As a values-based institution, we are fully committed to creating a climate where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.”

CNN reported that this latest report concentrated on confederate memorials at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. It is also the second of three final reports that the commission will deliver to Congress. 

In addition to locating the KKK plaque, the commission recommended renaming 12 “assets” at West Point and three at the Naval Academy because of confederate ties.

Congress established the commission in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to recommend to the Department of Defense any confederate markers on U.S. military “installations” that should be renamed.

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