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Town Votes on Whether to Keep the Name of 'Swastika'

A visiting cyclist called it 'profoundly ... disrespectful'
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 23, 2020 5:10 PM CDT

(Newser) – Officials had a big decision to make: keep the name of Swastika, NY, or change it? The issue arose after a New Yorker spotted the town while cycling and urged them to find a name that didn't evoke the Nazi invasion of Europe, World War II, and the Holocaust, NPR reports. "So the effect was just jarring and profoundly, I thought, disrespectful," said the cyclist, Michael Alcamo. "I think it should be obvious that the town should update its name and should pick a name that is not so offensive to so many Americans and so emblematic of intolerance, hate, and tyranny." But officials in the town of Black Brook, who have jurisdiction over Swastika, discussed the issue for five minutes on Sept. 14 before voting 4-0 against the change.

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"We regret that individuals, for out of the area, that lack the knowledge of the history of our community become offended when they see the name," Jon Douglass, Black Brook's supervisor, tells CNN. "To the members of our community, that the board represents, it is the name that their ancestors chose." Douglass argues that the name is actually derived from a Sanskrit word for well-being, and the symbol was considered good luck in Indian religions for thousands of years. Alcamo didn't feel so lucky, telling the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that he was "disappointed by the board's decision." CNN notes that a neighborhood in a Colorado town wrestled with a similar issue in 2019, and changed its name from Swastika Acres to Old Cherry Hills. (Read more swastikas stories.)

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