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Man With Giant Swastika in His Yard: 'Get Over It'

California's Steve Johnson says he thinks landscaping design looks 'cool'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2019 2:05 PM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/levkr)

(Newser) – Steven Johnson doesn't see what the big deal is with what he used to replace the weeds in his yard in California's El Sobrante, but he does concede that "a few people don't like it." What Johnson's neighbors and other locals are perturbed about, per the Mercury News: a new driveway, complete with a 20-by-20-foot swastika made of concrete and wood. (See that link for a photo.) Johnson says he just thinks these symbols "look cool" and that his swastika isn't even the same as the one used by the Nazis—instead, it's a "Tibetan symbol" representing "peace, tranquility, and harmony." (The News notes that the Tibetan symbol he's referring to faces counterclockwise; Johnson's faces clockwise, like the Nazi symbol.) Even if it does resemble the Germans', Johnson tells the San Francisco Chronicle, "why are all these people so upset? That stuff" (meaning Nazi Germany) "happened 80 years ago."

"Personally, and professionally, I find it deeply, deeply offensive,” a rep for the Anti-Defamation League tells the News. "The thing is huge, it's in concrete and symmetrical. It appears that a lot of effort went into it." One longtime neighbor tells the Chronicle, "I don't like it. I'm concerned for my children," while another neighbor shrugs and calls Johnson "harmless," adding, "I just don't think he's very intelligent. I don't think he understands the depth of it. I think he just thinks it's cool." A local cop says police haven't received any complaints about it yet, and a nonprofit says Johnson is within his First Amendment rights to have the swastika in his yard. Johnson says if he knew how the swastika was going to go over, he may not have put it in, but now that it's there, it would be too costly to dig it up. "Get over it, I guess," he tells the News. "It's my property, my choice." (Read more swastikas stories.)

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