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New York State bans swastikas and other hate symbols on public property

A children’s playground in Brooklyn Heights, New York was vandalized with a swastika in November 2016. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)
A children’s playground in Brooklyn Heights, New York was vandalized with a swastika in November 2016. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signs legislation banning the selling or displaying of hate symbols on public property and taxpayer-funded equipment.

State Sen. Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages, both of Long Island, introduced the legislation after an incident last year in which a Confederate flag was displayed on a fire truck in Long Island, and another in which a Confederate flag was hung from a fire department window.

The bill defines symbols of hate as including, but not limited to, symbols of white supremacy, neo-Nazi ideology or the Battle Flag of the Confederacy. Excluded are symbols that serve an “educational or historical purpose,” such as in a museum or book.

“Public property belongs to all of us, and this measure is critical to ensure that our public property isn’t being used to promote hatred,” says Kaplan in a press release. “You would think it was common sense that taxpayer-owned property couldn’t be used as a platform for hate, but shockingly there was no law on the books saying so — until now.”

Public property is defined as a school district, a fire district, volunteer fire company or police department and the taxpayer-funded equipment they use.

According to the NYC Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, swastikas are among the most common hate symbols displayed in the United States today. The office has partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to provide resources on and histories of common hate symbols in the US.

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