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Burlington teen was drawing Brooklyn hip-hop group's logo, not swastikas, at elementary school, police say

Pro Era logo

The defaced stop sign. Photo by Burlington PD.

Burlington Police thought they were dealing with a local Nazi when they found a sort of swastika like symbols spray painted on the Pine Glen Elementary School and on a nearby stop sign Thursday.

But after some research, police concluded the 17-year-old they nabbed really was just a fan of a "hip hop collective" called Pro Era, whose logo just happens to look like the sort of swastika a teen might draw but is really supposed to be an intertwined "4" and "7" - the group's original logo, which was designed to look pretty much like a swastika - you know, to show off the good things it used to represent before the Nazis appropriated it and killed millions of people, but whatever.

Burlington Police report:

After questioning the suspect and conducting research, the department has determined that the graffiti was not a swastika but rather the logo of the hip-hop musical collective known as Pro Era, whose logo -- the numbers four and seven interwoven over a white circle and red background, has generated controversy for its resemblance to the Nazi flag.

Further analysis indicated that the juvenile has shared his affinity for Pro Era in the past in social media postings.

The logo first garnered attention when it was plastered around Edward R. Murrow High School, located in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn - two years after the collective's founder, who had been a student there, committed suicide.

Burlington Police say they are still considering whether to bring charges against the teen.

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Comments

This is a lot like the Kek flag those alt right people were flying at their Boston Common rally. It's not a nazi flag, honest. *wink*

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Voting closed 9

Throw the book at the teen for the vandalism alone. It’s indefensible since he admits to the crime. That said, the Kekistani flag of which you speak is ironically designed to trigger crypto-authoritarians.

You are a particularly on-point subject because you think you are onto a crypto-Nazi creation, which is actually just a meme fabricated to give you almost exactly the Nazi symbolism you are hunting for, only to expose you as genuinely concerned with a fictional ethnicity. You are actually the living caricature, and Kek is drawing you.

At large, those who play the roles you perceive to be crypto-Nazis may be many things but Democrats, but the purpose of many of their plays is to expose even some “radical centrists” as authoritarian reactionaries. The hyperreal memes serve to bolster the popular knowledge that the “liberals” of the de-platforming/banning/censoring crusade are orthodox, and hypocrites with respect to liberty.

“Punk” teens shake the establishment through counterculture. How novel.

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Voting closed 8

I cannot care less if the Kekistani flag is ironic or not, all I know is that it has ruined several of my favorite t-shirts, as it is a blatant appropriation of the Vinland flag design by Peter Steele of Type O Negative as part of the band's fairly jokey mythology. Peter was no saint, but he certainly was not the sort of basement-dwelling, neckbeard edgelord that the Kekistani/4chan set are.

In short, stop ruining my favorite band, you internet asshats.

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"Burlington Police say they are still considering whether to bring charges against the teen."

HUH???

I don't care if it was Bambi and a Peace Symbol with a bluetooth-enabled link to the Save the Children Foundation junior choir performing "Everything is Beautiful" -- it's still a destructive and potentially dangerous*1 act of vandalism of public property

Perp should be Tried, and if convicted ... Sentenced to Cleaning all road signs in the town -- released home for nights and Sundays until the task is complete

* it is of course a Stop Sign that was Tagged

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Voting closed 32

It really is too bad more people don't know that the swastika had a long and good history before it was appropriated by the Nazis. Not to bring it back or anything, but just to know it. It was a spiritual symbol in ancient Indian religions. And in secular Western culture up until the time of Hitler it was just considered a symbol of good fortune, kind of like the little "laughing Buddha" statues one finds in tourist shops. One can find pictures of Christmas trees from the early 20th century decorated with ornaments adorned with swastikas. The modern person would be aghast, saying "what's this, Hitler's Christmas tree?". But it was pretty common.

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Voting closed 13

Doesn't make its use today any less offensive.

And, sorry, plastering stickers featuring black 3/4-swastikas on a white circle on a red field in one of the most heavily Jewish neighborhoods in the country and then claiming that "swastikas used to be good" rationale is, at best, disingenuous (note: I lived in that neighborhood; in fact, one of my sisters went to that high school, so, yeah, I can see how those stickers might have gotten some attention).

Based on their statements, Burlington Police are willing to give the kid the benefit of the doubt, that he really did like the group's music and that he really didn't realize he was drawing what looked like an infantile swastika. It happens, I guess, he's 17, not 30, but here's hoping he's learned a lesson.

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Voting closed 25

Sounds about as offensive as when businesses print orange flyers that resemble parking-tickets, and stick them on everyone's windshields.

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"Doesn't make its use today any less offensive."

In the USA and most places, no.
It is temporally and geographically variable.

In India, at least. MUCH less offensive.
Nor as a motif in pre-1930s art.

Paint on a warning sign, today? Well... yes.
Offensive.

I much prefer the red DRIVING stickers, myself, but I'd love to fine the vandals.

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Voting closed 0

I mean the way we treat cows here would be pretty offensive in much of India.

But this isn't India, so we gladly talk about Five Guys when the occasion arises.

And because this isn't India, we should recognize that, in a discussion on a Boston-centric Web site, swastikas are pretty damn offensive.

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Anyone spraying graffiti on anything they don’t own should be hit with a minimum of five years in prison. It’s a quality of life type crime that is what the broken windows theory is based upon. And no, graffiti is not art.

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Voting closed 11

You should be able to claim that person as a personal slave, just like during the Jim Crow era?

The shithead should have some charges and consequences, like paying for the sign and cleaning up some others, but let's have some sense of proportion. This ain't worth the societal resources of sending him to prison to learn how to be a better criminal. Not like drivers in MA use those signs anyway ...

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Voting closed 21

5 years for graffiti would be a ridiculous sentence. The "broken windows" theory of policing has been rather discredited by now, since its poster child's (New York City) decline in crime has been better explained by other factors.

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Voting closed 7

Obviously you haven’t been the victim of vandalism. I suppose if you caught someone spray painting on your house, you’d give him a thorough dressing down. And by the way, anyone who doesn’t clean up after his dog should get 10 years.

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I agree. Although I'm totally for paroling killers because they were juveniles when they were convicted of murder. But tagging a stop sign is much worse than taking a life. Throw this punk in jail!

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Well, maybe if this was over near Fox Hill School yeah, but near Pine Glen, eh he's probably making an improvement (they're actually not far apart and are in similar neighborhoods). Seriously though it's that kind of disproportionate response that fills the (many for-profit/scam) prisons and starts a repeat cycle without the offenders being rehabilitated. Make the kid scrub the graffiti, sweep or shovel driveways, plant flowers on the Town Common, or run mics at Town Meeting, etc. There are tons of more appropriate responses than throwing someone in jail for a non-violent offense. Whether graffiti is art or not is up to the beholder, I guess, but it should be noted that Burlington has a public high school with a pretty comprehensive and well regarded arts program and in-school gallery that displays both student and visiting artists' work. Not to mention, a school sanctioned graffiti ledge on school grounds, which acts as a sandbox for art students during school time as well as seniors, who get priority painting rights via a decades long unofficial agreement among the student body.

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Voting closed 13

About the school in Southie or did that turn out to be a hoax swept under the rug.

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Like the Nazi flag, the logo has a red field with a solid white circle and a black insignia. Instead of a swastika, the circular white field of the sticker contains the 47 symbol, which bears close resemblance to the swastika and to a wolfsangel, both of which are associated with Nazism and Neo-Nazism. - wikipedia

Clearly, Pro Era knew what they were up to. They even admit the swastika-like symbol was partially to get (desperate) attention.

The town of Burlington, not BPD is the victim here and what a terrible precedent to send that damage to municipal property like stop signs won't be prosecuted. Allow a clerk-magistrate to decide or arrest him on the felony. Probable cause never gets stale so they could grab him this afternoon. About 20+ years ago the state strengthened the laws against graffiti. Public endangerment laws are more vague but marring a stop sign is certainly that.

The graffiti law passed in the 90's makes some cases a felony and others strong misdemeanors, all with a traffic citation (for RMV purposes) that on conviction, either suspends the suspect's driver's license (even if no car involved) or delays for one year defendant's eligibility for a driver's license if he/she ever applies. The T Police were among the few who enforced it.

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Voting closed 8

I have a problem with taking away someone's driver's license for anything other than bad driving.

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Sadly, our court system is so broken that the only workable punishment for many small crimes is driving license suspension. Fines if imposed by judges don't get enforced and criminal continue undeterred.

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Yes, T fare evasion is a great example.

Why are fines so difficult? Impose a fine, and if someone doesn't pay they get an arrest warrant.

Kind of like suspending a driver's license -- that doesn't magically accomplish anything in and of itself. Someone could keep driving, then get pulled over, then get arrested.

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What the heck was Pro Era thinking? What got into their collective heads? Didn’t one of them think that creating a logo that resembles a swastika might not be a good thing?

As for the kid, he should get whatever the punishment for graffiti is, along with a lecture from someone or other on why spray painting a symbol that resembles a swastika is a bad thing.

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I guess you could call it "Black 47", but Larry Kirwan is way too much the history geek to be that stupid.

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So does little suburban boy feel like a big hip-hop man after defacing all that property? What an idiot.

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STOP Nazis (or complete swastickers).

That is the meaning, I am sure.

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