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Panel calls for removal of KKK plaque at West Point military academy

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(WEST POINT, N.Y.) -- A plaque dedicated to the Ku Klux Klan at the West Point military academy has come under fire by a congressional panel dedicated to identifying and advising on the removal and renaming of Confederate-affiliated statues or buildings under the Department of Defense.

The bronze mounted marker bearing the words "Ku Klux Klan" below a hooded figure appears as one piece of a triptych at the entrance of a building on campus. The marker falls outside the task of the Naming Commission, since it is focused on Confederacy-related matters.

However, the group said there are "clearly" ties in the KKK to the confederacy and advised the Department of Defense to consider creating a process to remove such memorials.

The U.S. Military Academy's Public Affairs Office said in a statement to ABC News that the triptych "depicts the history of the United States." The middle panel, titled "One Nation, Under God, Indivisible," highlights a Ku Klux Klan member.

Officials from the academy said that the artist, Laura Gardin Fraser, "wanted to create art that depicted 'historical incidents or persons' that symbolized the principled events of that time, thereby documenting both tragedy and triumph in our nation's history."

The academy told ABC News that the set of panels "also includes individuals who were instrumental in shaping principal events of that time, and symbols like the 'Tree of Life' that depict how our nation has flourished despite its tragedies."

The artwork was dedicated on June 3, 1965, according to the academy.

It is unclear if there are plans to remove the panel from the entrance of the campus building.

The congressional panel was created amid a yearslong racial reckoning that prompted backlash against Confederate monuments. It sparked the removal of several prominent pieces, including the controversial statue of General Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The reckoning intensified following the police killing of unarmed Black man George Floyd in May 2020. The Southern Poverty Law Center found that 169 Confederate symbols -- from monuments and plaques to the names of schools -- were removed across the U.S. in 2020. Almost all of them followed Floyd's death and the subsequent protests.

The congressional panel was created in 2021. It estimates that renaming and removing Confederate-affiliated names and memorials will cost $21 million.

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