Governor Kathy Hochul today signed legislation (S.4615-A/A.5402-A) amending general municipal law to prohibit any municipal corporation such as fire districts, volunteer fire departments, police departments and school districts from selling or displaying symbols of hate.
“The recent and disgusting rise in racist, homophobic, and hateful behavior will never be tolerated in New York,” Governor Hochul said. “Symbols of hate have no use other than to spread ignorance and incite violence. As New Yorkers, we must remain united and actively fight to eradicate these attitudes, and this legislation bolsters those efforts. There is no reason for a symbol of hate to ever be on display, let alone by a police or fire department charged with protecting their community. With this law now signed, we aren’t only doing away with this deplorable behavior, but also ensuring that every New Yorker, no matter their background or identity, feels welcome in their community.
This legislation was introduced following a pair of incidents on Long Island last year – one where a Confederate flag was displayed on a firetruck during a parade, and two, when it was discovered that a fire department in Nassau County had a Confederate flag on display in their window. The law is patterned off and extends similar legislation signed in 2020 that banned displaying symbols of hate or any similar image on state property. The term ‘symbols’ includes, but is not limited to, symbols of White supremacy, neo-Nazi ideology, or the Confederate battle flag.
Senator Anna Kaplan said, “With hate on the rise around the world and in our own community, it’s more urgent than ever that we take action to eradicate it wherever we find it. You would think it was common sense that taxpayer-owned property couldn’t be used as a platform for hate, but shockingly there was no law on the books saying so–until now. Public property belongs to all of us, and this measure is critical to ensure that our public property isn’t being used to promote hatred. I’m grateful to Governor Kathy Hochul for signing this measure into law and for her leadership to ensure that hate has no place in our State. I’m also thankful for my partnership with Assemblymember Michaelle Solages on this measure and others to our community safe from hatred.”
Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages said, “In this time of high polarization, publicly owned entities must maintain their neutrality and ensure their workplaces are apolitical settings for municipal workers and taxpayers alike. Our state is home to one of the most diverse populations in the world, and no New Yorker should have to interface with symbols of hate when engaging with their local governmental agencies. I am proud to work together with Senator Anna Kaplan on this good-government measure, and I am grateful to Governor Hochul for signing our bill into law.”