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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City man who found a swastika cut into the grass in front of his home said Thursday that he believes it was done by a neighbor with whom he has had a long-running dispute.
Stan Sells said he was mowing when he discovered the swastika Tuesday on the shoulder of the road that passes in front of his home. It is not visible from the road but faces his home and can clearly be seen from his yard.
“I think I know who did it, but I ain’t got no proof,” said Sells. “It’s a neighbor I haven’t gotten along with for several years.”
Sells declined to identify the neighbor, but said the man would yell at him when he saw Sells in his yard.
“(I) try to talk with him and he’d start yelling at me, calling me names and telling me what he’s going to do to me” while cursing, said Sells, 67.
Sells said he has a home security camera, but it was no help because it is more than 250 feet away and it was dark when the swastika was cut into the grass.
Sells said he reported the swastika, which he said is cut into the public right-of-way, to both Oklahoma City police and the FBI.
FBI spokesperson Kayla McCleery acknowledged the report, but declined to call the incident a hate crime.
“While we feel this is hateful speech, it’s not something the FBI can investigate because it … probably falls under First Amendment protected free speech,” McCleery said.
Sgt. Dillon Quirk said the Oklahoma City Police are investigating the grass-cutting incident as vandalism.
The swastika symbol, used by Nazi Germany, “has served as the most significant and notorious of hate symbols, anti-Semitism and white supremacy for most of the world” since 1945, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Sells, who said he is not Jewish, said the discovery made him mad.
“I just couldn’t believe anyone would do that,” Sells said. He declined to speculate on why anyone would cut a swastika into his grass.
In 2019, vandals spray-painted racist, anti-gay and anti-Semitic remarks, including a swastika, outside the headquarters of the Oklahoma Democratic Party and offices of the Chickasaw Nation.
Mauricio Garcia, the man suspected of killing eight people and wounding several others in a mass shooting in May at a suburban Dallas shopping mall, showed large tattoos on his arm and torso, including a swastika, in a post on a Russian social networking site.