Trump's Name Is Across from a Civil Rights Plaque — and It Irks Activists

Email a Friend
Plaque in honor of three young men murdered fighting for civil rights. Janet Babin/WNYC

A community activist is adding her voice to the chorus of West Side residents asking that Donald Trump's name be removed from their buildings.

Petitions began circulating earlier this week among residents of several buildings along the West Side Highway to remove the Trump name from their buildings. Trump was involved in developing the properties, but no longer owns any of the buildings, even though several of them still bear his name — including Trump Place, on West 70th.

"This is not Trump Place, it's Freedom Place," said Batya Lewton, president of the Coalition for a Livable West Side.

Freedom Place, a four-block street, is named in memory of three slain civil rights activists, two of them from New York. Reportedly, one of the victim's mother's lived nearby and that led to the street name.

A small plaque in the ground says James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered in Mississippi in 1964 while on a trip to register African American voters, should be remembered for "dedicating their lives in the unending struggle for freedom and democracy."

"We don't care what's on the front of the buildings on Riverside Boulevard, but this is an affront to the memory of three boys who were murdered fighting for civil rights," said Lewton.

Lewton said the Trump name is especially offensive because the men were fighting for civil rights; their murder is credited with helping to pass the Voting Rights Act.

Trump has called for the ouster of Muslims from the U.S., wants to build a wall to keep out Mexicans, and more recently called the Presidential election rigged, all elements that Lewton says desecrates the honor of the young men who were killed.

The property management division of the Trump Organization manages the building. In an email, a spokesperson talked of a "warm, friendly atmosphere" in the building.

“We are incredibly proud of the strong, lasting relationships we have built over the years with board members, owners and our wonderful staff," said the Trump Organization spokesperson.