Washington judge orders man not to hang swastikas on barn wall facing Jewish neighbor

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — A county judge in north-central Washington has ordered a local man to refrain from displaying a swastika on the wall of his barn after he posted the Nazi symbol in order to harass his Jewish neighbor.

Chelan County District Court Judge Nancy Harmon ruled Tuesday that Wenatchee resident K.N. Klinginsmith meant to “alarm, annoy or harass” his neighbor, James D. Goodwin, when he hung the swastika on the wall of his barn facing the Goodwin home for three days in February, the Yakima Herald reported.

The judge ordered Klinginsmith to post no more such symbols on the north wall of his barn, and ruled that the men may not intrude on each other’s property. The ruling does not prevent swastikas from being hung on other areas of Klinginsmith’s property, however.

The neighbors reportedly have feuded for the last two decades, on issues that include low-hanging tree boughs hanging into one neighbor’s yard, and construction material encroaching on the other’s yard, according to the newspaper.

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The Goodwin family has hosted a yearly Sukkot celebration in their yard for the last 20 years, which includes a large Star of David, according to the newspaper. Goodwin’s attorney used the celebration to make the case that Klinginsmith had reason to know the Goodwin family is Jewish

Klinginsmith said in his testimony that he put the swastika up as a reminder of his days in the U.S. Army and that he bought the swastika after his 1962-1965 service in Germany, probably from a swap meet.

He also said that he did not know Goodwin and his wife were Jewish and never saw their Sukkot celebrations. His attorney called the display of the swastika protected speech under the state and U.S. constitutions

Goodwin testified that: “A swastika directed at a Jew is a death threat. Nothing more, nothing less than that.”

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