On Saturday, beachgoers on the South Shore of Long Island expressed shock and outrage when a small plane was spotted trailing a banner with the image of a swastika, a peace sign and a heart.
The banner was commissioned by the International Raelian Movement, whose spokesman Thomas Kaenzig told NBC 4 New York that the aim was to reclaim the symbol, which they believe was “hijacked by the Nazis.”
“As long as there are people still offended by it, it means we need to continue our work, we need to continue to rehabilitate the symbol,” Kaenzig told NBC.
The group said it has flown the banner over New York and New Jersey beaches annually since 2012 as part of its “swastika rehabilitation” movement. Watch a video of the plane taking off here.
Local residents don’t seem to be taking to the movement.
“I can’t see how this can be construed in this community as anything less than grossly offensive,” Merrick resident Jeffrey Granat, 62, told Newsday.
The banner also flew over Brooklyn beaches on Saturday. New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called it "an outrageous and hurtful act," according to the New York Daily News.
Offensive or well-meaning? Do you think the swastika can be rehabilitated? Vote in the poll above and tell us in the comments section below.