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More Swastikas Scrawled in the City This Year, NYPD Says

By Jeff Mays | November 19, 2016 9:40am

ONE POLICE PLAZA — The number of swastikas reported in New York City has jumped more than 500 percent compared to the same time last year, according to the NYPD.

There have been 13 incidents of someone drawing a swastika in public, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. That compares to just two incidents during the same period last year.

"I can't explain it," said Boyce when asked whether the election of Donald Trump as president may have caused the uptick in swastikas.

"We had one incident where his name was used in a swastika out of 13," Boyce said of Trump.

► READ MORE: Hate Crimes Jump 30 Percent in 2016, NYPD Stats Show

Drawing a swastika is a felony in New York state and carries a charge of aggravated harassment, which is defined as having the "intent to to harass, annoy, threaten or alarm another person, because of a belief or perception regarding such person's race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, religious practice, age, disability or sexual orientation."

Cross-burning falls into the same category.

"There's an ebb and flow to hate crime. You see it...at national events, sometimes at international events," said Boyce.

But Mayor Bill de Blasio said that while most of the swastika-drawing incidents cannot be linked to Trump, the president-elect did set a tone with the derogatory remarks he made during the campaign.

Trump called undocumented Mexican immigrants rapists and said he planned to restrict Muslims from the country because of terrorism. The president-elect has also made derogatory remarks about women and said that African-Americans can get shot in black neighborhoods while leaving their homes or going to the store.

►READ MORE: Swastika in Crown Heights Crossed Out With Warning: 'Nazi Scum Be Afraid'

"A lot of us are very concerned that a lot of divisive speech was used during the campaign by the president-elect. We do not yet know what the impact of that will be on our country," said de Blasio. "We know sadly that some people get inspired by hateful speech to take action."

Since winning the election, Trump has picked two people for his cabinet, senior adviser Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who have raised concerns by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Bannon was the chairman of Breitbart Media, a popular mouthpiece for what is now described as the "alt-right," a movement that rejects mainstream conservatism but that is also seen as promoting racist views, white supremacy, anti-Semitism and white nationalism.

Sessions, who was once reportedly denied a federal judgeship over racist remarks, has participated in hate speech, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

►READ MORE: Trump White House Linked to 'White Supremacists,' De Blasio Says

The NYPD has seen an uptick in hate crimes leading up to Trump's election.

There were 328 reported hate crimes through Nov. 13, compared to 250 incidents for the same period last year, a 31 percent increase. Both anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes are on the rise.

"We are concerned about it," said Boyce "The best thing that we can do is go out and make arrests."