New York State Bans Swastikas, Confederate Flags and Other Hate Symbols

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed legislation Tuesday that bans the sale or display of hate symbols on public property and on taxpayer-funded equipment.

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

The bill defines hate symbols as including, but not limited to, the symbols of white supremacy, neo-Nazi ideology, or the Confederate battle flag. Symbols that have an “educational or historical purpose”, such as in a museum or book, are excluded.

“Public property belongs to all of us, and this measure is critical to ensuring that our public property is not used to promote hatred,” Kaplan said in a press release. “You would think it is common sense that taxpayer property cannot be used as a platform for hatred, but surprisingly there was no law on the books that said so, until now.”

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

In the Jewish cemetery of Quatzenheim, near Strasbourg, France, in 2019 there are DISAGREGED graves with swastikas in 2019.VINCENT KESSLER / REUTERS

According to the New York Office for Hate Crimes Prevention, 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 and stories of common hate symbols in the US.

The NYPD’s hate crimes panel has reported that nearly 35% of hate crimes this year have been anti-Semitic, the highest proportion against any group. Anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York City are up 50% compared to the same period in 2020.

“The recent and disgusting increase in racist, homophobic and hateful behavior will never be tolerated in New York,” Hochul said in a press release. “There is no reason for a hate symbol to be on display, much less by a police or fire department charged with protecting its community.”

There is a New York State law that prohibits hate symbols on state property. That law raised free speech issues in 2020 among civil liberties advocates, who noted that the expression of even hate speech is protected by the Constitution even on state-owned land. However, in the past, the Supreme Court has upheld laws limiting the rights of state and municipal employees to make political speeches about working time.

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