One homeowner in a suburban section of Sacramento, California has festooned the front of his house with what he is calling “art.” His neighbors are calling it offensive.
The “art” includes a Palestinian flag, pictures of the U.S. and Israeli flags with swastikas where the stars should go, and a life sized mock-up of an adult male with his hands raised, Ferguson-style.
The display on this house in Moddison Avenue is lit up with Christmas lights at night, so no one can miss it.
According to KXTV in Sacramento, the display began going up several months ago, and neighbors are complaining.
However, unless there are local ordinances restricting neighborhood appearances, the display is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, tasteless and flawed, though it is. Police investigated and found no laws were being broken, so they are powerless to aid the distressed neighbors.
“How do I explain this to my little one?” asked Robbie Rose, who lives nearby. “I am all for freedom of speech, but this is just too much. I really do want to get out of my car and rip that down. But the only reason I don’t (is) because I do believe in being a good American, and I do believe in freedom of speech.”
A California state senator, Marty Block (D-San Diego), chairman of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, held a news conference on Thursday, Feb. 26.
“Swastikas displayed on a house in the River Park section of Sacramento tarnish the neighborhood,” said Block, “and disrespect and dishonor the memory of tens of thousands of brave American soldiers … men and women who died for their country fighting Hitler’s henchmen who wore that very same symbol.”
Block said that he and his colleagues cherish America’s freedom of speech, but they “call on the owner of that house to voluntarily remove his vulgar display.”
“There is no more potent a symbol of hatred than the swastika,” Barry Broad, the president of the Jewish Federation of Sacramento told KCRA. “It is a symbol of murder and genocide.” Broad agreed, however, that displaying a swastika is a form of protected speech.