NY bans Confederate flags in fire and police departments, schools



ALBANY — Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law Tuesday banning the sale and display of “hate symbols” — such as Confederate flags and swastikas — on police- and fire-department property, as well at school sites.

“The recent and disgusting rise in racist, homophobic, and hateful behavior will never be tolerated in New York,” Hochul said in a statement.

“Symbols of hate have no use other than to spread ignorance and incite violence,” the governor added. “As New Yorkers, we must remain united and actively fight to eradicate these attitudes, and this legislation bolsters those efforts.”

The new law applies to any municipal corporation in the state — including fire districts, volunteer fire departments, police departments and school districts — and mirrors a similar law that took effect last year that also prohibited the sales and display of hate symbols on state property.

The legislation was introduced by Nassau County Democrats state Sen. Anna Kaplan and Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages after a pair of incidents last year on Long Island.

A protester holds a confederate flag behind an NYPD officer near Trump Tower in Manhattan on March 23, 2019.
A protester holds a confederate flag behind an NYPD officer near Trump Tower in Manhattan on March 23, 2019.
Daniel William McKnight

In August 2020, a fire truck from the volunteer Brookhaven Fire Department in Suffolk County was decorated with a Confederate flag for a drive-by event supporting a local firefighter battling cancer.

The scene drew outrage and was condemned by the head of the department as well as Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

In a separate incident, a Confederate flag was displayed in the window of a fire department in Nassau County, according to Hochul’s office.

“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,” Kaplan said in a statement.

The hate symbols are prohibited unless they serve “an educational or historical purpose” such as images in a book or displayed in a museum, according to the legislation.

The new law took effect immediately.


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