A Long Island lawmaker has proposed removing Donald Trump’s name from a vacant New York State park named in his honor and renaming it after a Muslim soldier in the Revolutionary War who played a prominent role in two historic battles against the British.
The proposal comes as Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, has proposed banning Muslims from entering the country and increasingly espoused anti-Islam rhetoric during his campaign rallies.
“When demagogues spew hate, it is our national and state responsibility to act because history has taught painful lessons that inaction enables the merchants of ignorance and hate,” state Assemb. Chuck Lavine (D-Glen Cove) wrote in a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week.
Lavine suggested the state scrub Trump’s name from the state park’s signs and rename it “Peter Salaam State Park.”
Lavine is not the only state lawmaker to suggest a name change. On Monday, state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn), penned his own letter to Cuomo criticizing Trump’s “discriminatory” campaign. Squadron said he intends to introduce legislation to replace “the current name [of the park] with a more appropriate one.”
My open letter to Gov. Cuomo suggests the name of Donald J. Trump State Park is changed to honor a Muslim War Vet. pic.twitter.com/Tjsv0Ceyjv
— Charles Lavine (@Charles_Lavine) December 15, 2015
Donald J. Trump State Park, located in both Westchester and Putnam counties, was reportedly closed in 2010 due to budget cuts. Trump, according to a March 2010 story in The New York Times, donated 436 acres to the state after a failed bid to build a $10 million golf course on the land.
“If they’re going to close it, I’ll take the land back,” Trump reportedly said at the time.
His latest rallying cry—that the US ban all Muslims from entering the country—sparked worldwide condemnation and comparisons to Hitler. Trump’s campaign has focused largely on anti-immigrant sentiment in the US in the wake of high-profile attacks by terror groups like ISIS. In recent months he proposed that all mosques be monitored and suggested all Muslims carry identification.
While most of his GOP challengers have criticized the billionaire real estate magnate for his rhetoric, Trump’s remarks seem to have buoyed his campaign. People have been coming out in droves to his rallies and Trump has separated himself from the rest of the GOP pack in national polls despite losing ground to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in Iowa.
Lavine chose Salaam because of his “meaningful roles” in the Battles of Concord and Bunker Hill. Salaam, a former slave turned Revolutionary War soldier, is said to have fired the fatal shot that killed prominent British Marine Gen. John Pitcairn at the Battle of Bunker Hill. He also served in the Battles of Saratoga and Stony Point, according to Lavine’s letter.
“Renaming the parkland after a true American patriot is entirely fitting and will send the world a powerful message of the values we Americans and New Yorkers stand for,” he said.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment. In an interview with CNN on Monday, Cuomo compared Trump to an Islamic State recruiter.
“I believe it’s hurting this country. I believe it is actually fomenting the growth of ISIL,” Cuomo said, using another name for the so-called Islamic State, also know as ISIS.
“Donald Trump could be a recruitment poster for ISIL, because he is fanning the flames of hate,” the governor continued. “One billion Muslims were just alienated with one sentence. At this point…we don’t need more Muslim enemies. We need more Muslim allies. And saying that this country doesn’t trust or doesn’t like all Muslims and damns a religion, plays right into their hands.”