New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that outlaws the sale of “hate symbols,” such as the Confederate flag, on public land.
“This country faces a pervasive, growing attitude of intolerance and hate — what I have referred to in the body politic as an American cancer,” Cuomo wrote of the bill, which went into effect immediately. “By limiting the display and sale of the confederate flag, Nazi swastika and other symbols of hatred from being displayed or sold on state property, including the state fairgrounds, this will help safeguard New Yorkers from the fear-installing effects of these abhorrent symbols.”
The law prohibits the sales of such imagery on public property and limits hate symbols from being displayed except for educational or historical purposes.
Cuomo acknowledged that the bill would likely need “certain technical changes” to avoid conflicting with the First Amendment.
First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams also weighed in on the law, saying it would require more than a “technical” fix.
“Gov. Cuomo is correct that the First Amendment may require changes in the law in light of the First Amendment. A private entity can choose to sell or not sell offensive symbols, but when the government bans the sale of offensive, but constitutionally protected symbols, on its property, the First Amendment comes into play,” Abrams told the New York Post.
The bill comes after protests and riots concerning racism and equality erupted this summer, with many statues commemorating Confederate leaders being torn down or destroyed.