Pro-swastika group flies flag over Long Island beaches

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Kristin Thorne has the story. (WABC)

Imagine the surprise of people at the beaches on Long Island when they saw a swastika flying overhead last weekend.

"Horror, just horror," a resident said.

Tuesday local religious leaders denounced the move by proswastika.org.

"To have this hatred infiltrate this beautiful beach with children and families playing, with their only goal and objective to enjoy themselves and play with their community. And to have this infiltrate their base is so offensive," said Rabbi Ira Ebbin, of the Congregation Ohav Shalom.

But according to those familiar with the website, the swastika in its ancient origins was not a symbol of hate, but was a symbol of peace and love.

It's one still cherished today by Buddhists and Hindus.

"The swastika symbol has been around since the beginnings of humanity," said Thomas Kaenzig, of Proswastika.org.

Eyewitness News spoke with Thomas Kaenzig the creator of proswastika.org from Las Vegas via Skype.

He said the banners were flown all over the world last weekend, an idea that came from one of the group's Jewish members.

He says the purpose was to do the exact opposite of what religious leaders are accusing the federally registered non-profit organization of doing.

"It is to show the world that the symbol had a totally different meaning before the Nazis, abused and hijacked an existing symbol and most importantly it still is a very holy, dear symbol for one billion plus people on the planet today," Kaenzig said.

"Certain symbols have been used so heinously, that part of the tragedy is that any significance they might have had before becomes forgotten," said Rehuda Septimus, of Young Israel of North Woodmere.

State law currently addresses the etching, painting, and drawing of the swastika, but not the display of the symbol. Religious leaders say that needs to change.

"Though we cannot change what happened this past weekend over our beautiful beaches, we can take action to prevent this symbol of hate from ever appearing on our shores again," said Kate Murray, the Hempstead Town Supervisor.

They're asking state lawmakers to amend the hate crime statute to include the "display" of the swastika.

Related Topics:
religionswastikanazishate crime investigationjewishbeachesHempstead
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