A student at the State University of New York’s Purchase College has been charged with a hate crime after being accused of hanging posters with Nazi symbolism around campus, the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office said.
Gunnar Hassard, 18, appeared in court Tuesday on a charge of aggravated harassment, a hate crime in which someone “etches, paints, draws upon or otherwise places a swastika, commonly exhibited as the emblem of Nazi Germany, on any building or other real property,” the office said in a statement.
Bail was set at $5,000 and Hassard is scheduled to return to court on January 8. CNN left a message seeking comment at a phone number listed for the defendant’s father.
The posters featured a swastika and symbols of Nazi Germany, the district attorney said. They were hung in parts of the campus “frequented and utilized by members of the Jewish community,” the statement says.
The posters were discovered on Sunday during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, “causing alarm, fear and annoyance to the members of the campus community,” a complaint states, according to the district attorney’s office.
“That this hateful act took place on the last night of Hanukkah when our Jewish community members were celebrating the survival of their religion, makes it even more reprehensible,” said Dennis Craig, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management at Purchase College.
“Messages of hate, while becoming more and more prevalent in our country, have no place on our campus and will be treated with the utmost severity.”
The college said it is cooperating with the Westchester District Attorney’s Office. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed the State Police Hate Crimes Unit to assist in the investigation.
“Those behind this noxious act should know that these flyers, far from inciting fear, will only harden our resolve to combat hate in all its forms. We will not cower in the face of hate. While they spread fear, we will spread love,” the governor said Monday in a statement.