EL SOBRANTE, Calif. (Gray News) - Neighbors are less than thrilled about what Steve Johnson did to replace the dirt lot in front of his home.
To match the designs already decorating his handrail and doorbell, Johnson had a massive concrete swastika constructed flat on the ground.
“I own this house I’ll put what I want. It ain’t none of your guys’ business,” Johnson told KGO. “I like those signs. I think they look cool. I like them.”
Cultures from the Eastern Hemisphere have long used the swastika as religious symbols. Generally, those have been left-facing designs.
The one used by Nazi Germany, however, was right-facing and tilted, just like the one in Johnson’s yard.
Even so, Johnson insisted his swastika is not about Third Reich ideology.
“It’s a Tibetan sign that’s way back before swastikas were invented,” Johnson said.
Local media asked Johnson if he was of Tibetan heritage.
“I could be,” he responded.
Renee Schultz, one of Johnson’s neighbors, is Jewish. She said she is “absolutely" offended by the symbol.
Another neighbor, Vince Poehnelt, is concerned it will harm their property value.
“It’s stupid. It kills the retail value of the house, kills the value of everyone on the street,” Poehnelt said.
Still, Mary Salinas is willing to overlook the swastika and focus on her interaction with Johnson.
“I look at his behavior and attitude towards us," she explained, "We’ve never had a problem with him. He’s always nice to us. That’s what I can say.”