As members of the Jewish community were celebrating the last night of Hanukkah, posters being referred to as “Nazi themed,” bearing images of Adolf Hitler and swastika iconography were hung up in various locations at the Purchase College campus. As of late Tuesday evening, a suspect has been arrested and arraigned.
Gunnar Hassard of Oneonta, an 18-year-old student at Purchase College was arraigned in Harrison Town Court Tuesday in connection with the posters. He has been charged with Aggravated Harassment in the First Degree, a class E felony and hate crime the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office says specifically applies when one “etches, paints, draws upon or otherwise places a swastika, commonly exhibited as the emblem of Nazi Germany, on any building or other real property.” Bail was set at $5,000 and his next scheduled court date is January 8.
The arrest came after an investigation by New York State University Police, the state police’s Hate Crimes Unit, and the DA’s office.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement on Monday that he was “disgusted” by the posters, while vice president for student affairs and enrollment management Denni Craig added, “Please know that these posters, and any message of antisemitism and intolerance, goes against our core values of diversity, acceptance and understanding.”
SUNY Police Chief Dayton Tucker thanked campus community members for coming forward to report the incident so swiftly, and stated Hassard will be going through the student code of conduct disciplinary process concurrently with criminal prosecution.