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The Anti-Defamation League announced anti-semitic incidents in 2017 had increased 57% over 2016. Fareed explains what accounts for the troubling rise.

Posted: Aug 2, 2018 6:43 PM
Updated: Aug 2, 2018 6:50 PM

The flag of Nazi Germany was sighted atop a flagpole in a public park in Laramie, Wyoming.

The US flag that usually flies from the pole lay crumpled on the ground when police arrived on the scene Monday morning, according to Lieutenant Gwen Smith of the Laramie Police Department.

Shortly after police were notified of the incident, officers promptly removed the Nazi flag, which bore the swastika symbol. Upon retrieving the discarded American flag, the officers folded it properly and one saluted the flag as the other returned it to its rightful place atop the flagpole, Smith said.

In a statement to CNN, the Anti-Defamation League said it is outraged by the incident.

"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," said Jeremy Shaver, a senior associate director with the Anti-Defamation League. "We all have a responsibility to speak up when such hateful incidents take place in our communities."

Shaver also commended the responding officers for acting "in such a respectful and professional manner on scene."

According to Smith, there is currently no evidence of a crime because the American flag was not damaged or stolen, and no damage was done to the flagpole.

Officers spoke with the person who alerted them to the incident, but the individual did not see who raised the Nazi flag and couldn't recall any suspicious people in the area, Smith said. For now, the Nazi flag has been submitted into evidence.

It's only the latest display of Nazi imagery

The flag in Wyoming is the second major Nazi symbol to appear in the US just this week.

Four days ago Nazi images, including a swastika, were found painted on a structure belonging to a Jewish synagogue in Indiana. And in February, fliers containing white supremacist and neo-Nazi content were found at the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie, CNN affiliate KGWN reported.

Laramie typically experiences a "very low" number of bias-motivated crimes, Smith said. There were two in 2017 and there had not been any in the six years before, according to Smith.

Laramie's mayor, Andrea Summerville, told CNN she "vigorously and strongly condemns" the appearance of the Nazi flag.

"The City of Laramie will remain watchful for and vigilant against any other use of hateful Nazi symbols or propaganda," Summerville said. "Our community has been touched by hate before and we will not stand for it again."

In what was widely viewed as a hate crime, a gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, was killed in 1998 outside Laramie by two men who were later convicted of murder.

"We are a stronger community when we are diverse, open and inclusive," Summerville added. "It is imperative that every community member feels safe and welcome."

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