A teenage SUNY Purchase student has been arraigned after spreading more than a dozen Nazi-themed posters on campus over the weekend.
Gunnar Hassard, 18, was arraigned in Harrison Town Court on Tuesday, Dec. 11, after as many as 16 posters were spread throughout the SUNY Purchase campus on Anderson Hill Road in Harrison on Sunday. The posters reportedly had images of Adolf Hitler and a swastika.
Hassard, of Oneonta, allegedly hung multiple posters, which incorporated a swastika and symbols of Nazi Germany, on and near the Humanities Building. The complaint states that the flyers on the campus “frequented and utilized by members of the Jewish community…causing alarm, fear and annoyance to the members of the campus community during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, Jr., stated.
Scarpino announced that Hassard has been charged with aggravated harassment - a hate crime and felony - for hanging posters with Nazi symbolism in areas of the campus. His bail was set at $5,000 cash bail or bond and he is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 9.
The DA noted that, “New York State University Police arrested Hassard and charged him with Aggravated Harassment, a hate crime which specifically states a person is guilty of this crime when one 'etches, paints, draws upon or otherwise places a swastika, commonly exhibited as the emblem of Nazi Germany, on any building or other real property.'"
Dayon Tucker, the chief of the university’s police department, said that the student “will be going through the student conduct process” as he faces criminal charges.
“We have been working closely with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office," he said in a statement. “At this point, I also want to thank the members of the campus community who reported the incident. This community belongs to all of us. By coming forward so quickly, those individuals were a great help to the investigation.
“I would also like to thank the members of the New York State University Police who worked diligently to bring the investigation to a close immediately. Thank you again for your cooperation. We are grateful for the outpouring of support and look forward to continuing to work together to protect our community.”
In a statement released after the revelation of the posters, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that “while they spread fear, we spread love.”
“I am disgusted by the discovery of neo-Nazi material at SUNY Purchase today. In New York, we will not tolerate the toxic social dynamic that is spreading like a cancer across the country and fueling hateful material like the neo-Nazi fliers that were found on the campus,” he said.
“I am directing the State Police Hate Crimes Unit to assist in the investigation into these fliers. Those behind this noxious act should know that these fliers, 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.”
“I was deeply troubled to learn about the discovery of neo-Nazi posters at SUNY Purchase, especially as Jews across the world came together for the Festival of Lights, a celebration of the triumph of the Jewish people over persecution," Congresswoman Nita Lowey said in a statement. “It is with that same resolve and courage in which the Jews prevailed that we today must confront the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism at home and abroad. Only by working together will we root out hatred and bigotry in all its forms.”
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