According to CNN, a Nazi flag was found flying in a public park in Laramie, Wyoming, on Monday morning, replacing the American Flag that is usually hoisted in its stead.
According to the Laramie Police Department, the U.S. flag lay crumpled on the grass when police arrived at the scene. After removing the Nazi flag from the flagpole, Lieutenant Gwen Smith claims his officers folded, saluted, and hoisted the nation's flag back in its proper place.
Upon hearing about the incident, the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement expressing their outrage. The League's senior associate director, Jeremy Shaver, claimed, "It is appalling and outrageous that anyone would cast aside the American flag in a public park and replace it with an ugly symbol of the Nazi regime."
"We all have a responsibility to speak up when such hateful incidents take place in our communities," Shaver said.
While the flag switch was disrespectful, Lieutenant Smith claims that no crime has been committed since neither the American flag nor the flagpole was damaged. While the Laramie Police spoke to the person who first sighted the Nazi flag, they are still uncertain who carried out the act and raised the flag in the first place.
This random appearance of Nazi imagery, however, is nothing new. Just earlier this week, a swastika and other Nazi symbols were painted on the wall of a synagogue in Indiana.
In addition, neo-Nazi flyers were found scattered around the campus of the University of Wyoming back in February.
According to Lt. Smith, there are not usually many hate crimes or bias-motivated incidents in Laramie, but noted that there were at least two in 2017, the first discovered and reported in six years.
Laramie Mayor Andrea Summerville told reporters that she "strongly condemns" the use and appearance of the Nazi flag and other Nazi symbols and imagery. Summerville stated, "The city of Laramie will remain watchful for and vigilant against any other use of hateful Nazi symbols or propaganda. Our community has been touched by hate before and we will not stand for it again."
"We are a stronger community when we are diverse, open and inclusive," she continued. "It is imperative that every community member feels safe and welcome."
Previously, in 1998, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, Matthew Shepard, was brutally beaten and killed near Laramie because of his sexual orientation. In a 2009 interview with one of his two killers, convicted murderer Aaron McKinney insisted, "Matt Shepard needed killing."