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US judge bars man from hanging swastika in view of Jewish neighbor

Washington resident told to refrain from placing Nazi emblem on wall of his barn facing home of Goodwin family

A swastika. (Wikimedia Commons)
A swastika. (Wikimedia Commons)

A county judge in north-central Washington has ordered a local man to refrain from displaying a swastika on the wall of his barn after he posted the Nazi symbol in order to harass his Jewish neighbor.

Chelan County District Court Judge Nancy Harmon ruled Tuesday that Wenatchee resident K.N. Klinginsmith meant to “alarm, annoy or harass” his neighbor, James D. Goodwin, when he hung the swastika on the wall of his barn facing the Goodwin home for three days in February, the Yakima Herald reported.

The judge ordered Klinginsmith to post no more such symbols on the north wall of his barn, and ruled that the men may not intrude on each other’s property. The ruling does not prevent swastikas from being hung on other areas of Klinginsmith’s property, however.

The neighbors reportedly have feuded for the last two decades, on issues that include low-hanging tree boughs hanging into one neighbor’s yard, and construction material encroaching on the other’s yard, according to the newspaper.

A view of the city of Wenatchee, Washington on April 25, 2009. (CC BY Wikimedia commons)
A view of the city of Wenatchee, Washington on April 25, 2009. (CC BY Wikimedia commons)

The Goodwin family has hosted a yearly Sukkot celebration in their yard for the last 20 years, which includes a large Star of David, according to the newspaper. Goodwin’s attorney used the celebration to make the case that Klinginsmith had reason to know the Goodwin family is Jewish.

A judge’s ruling bars a Wenatchee man from displaying swastikas or other hate symbols on one wall of his barn after he…

Posted by Wenatchee World on Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Klinginsmith said in his testimony that he put the swastika up as a reminder of his days in the US Army and that he bought the swastika after his 1962-1965 service in Germany, probably from a swap meet.

He also said that he did not know Goodwin and his wife were Jewish and never saw their Sukkot celebrations. His attorney called the display of the swastika protected speech under the state and US constitutions

Goodwin testified that: “A swastika directed at a Jew is a death threat. Nothing more, nothing less than that.”

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