Swastika incident in Nassau County prompts education proposal

ROCKVILLE CENTRE, Nassau County (WABC) -- Officials in Nassau County have announced a new effort to stop the spread of hate.

They are proposing a new law that would require all students in New York State to be taught exactly why the swastika and the noose are symbols of hate and intimidation.

Senator Todd Kaminsky, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and Assemblyman Charles Lavine unveiled the proposed legislation Tuesday in Rockville Centre.

"If we can educate our youngsters about the pernicious nature of these symbols, I'm confident those hate symbols and those acts will decrease," said Singas.

They joined together to condemn recent acts of vandalism and support the proposed measure.

The bill would require specific instruction in the public school curriculum to explain the history and context of bigoted symbolism like the swastika and the noose, to name just a few.

The proposal comes less than a week after seven swastikas were scrawled on a park pavilion in Oyster Bay.

Police are still searching for the person or persons responsible.

The DA said that the problem seems to be growing and the perpetrators seem genuinely clueless. "When we ask them why it is they painted that or drew that, and what it means to them, they often can't even tell us what it means," said Singas. "They don't even know, and that's what really prompted this."

After years of steady declines, hate crimes are on the rise in Nassau County.

They went from 59 in 2016 down to 56 in 2017, then falling further, to 34 in 2018. But it's surged to 44 so far this year, a 100 percent increase over the same period last year.

The bill has multiple sponsors in the Assembly and the State Senate. The specific curriculum would be up to the state Board of Regents.

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