Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said Tuesday she wants the New York State Legislature to ban the display of swastikas.
Joined by Jewish leaders, she made her comments at Point Lookout Town Park, where a plane trailing a swastika banner flew along the beach Saturday.
"Not all speech is free," Murray said. "We know you can't yell 'fire' in a movie theater. . . . We feel that the swastika, which has been so identified with the killing of 6 million Jews and many others, that you cannot separate the swastika from the most terrible time in our history."StoryBanner with swastika flown over beaches
State law forbids the etching, painting, drawing and placing of swastikas on public or private property without the permission of the property owner. Murray described this as the "loophole that they have been flying their planes through."
"They" refers to the International Raelian Movement, a group that says its goal is to "rehabilitate" the swastika so that it's seen as a sign of peace. The group performed a swastika flyover in July last year along some South Shore beaches.
"Banning something is never the answer," said Thomas Kaenzig, 42, of Las Vegas, the leader of the group. "Education is the answer."
Yehuda Septimus, rabbi of Young Israel of North Woodmere, said at the news conference that making any display of a swastika -- on the ground or in the air -- a hate crime is justified given the symbol's historical context.
Acting District Attorney of Nassau County Madeline Singas said that her office will continue investigating and prosecuting any hate crimes that occur in the county.