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Vendor Selling "Friends Of The Swastika" Shirts On USC Campus Asked To Leave

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A vendor selling t-shirts featuring swastikas on Wednesday morning on the USC campus was asked to leave after a number of students had objected to the product, reports the Daily Trojan.

The shirt included the phrase "Friends of the Swastika" as well as various iterations of the symbol. According to USA Today, the shirt also included the text “To hell with Hitler! I’ve been a good luck sign since the beginning of time!” and “Be a friend to a swastika today!” The shirt was being sold at a booth run by a man named Gordon McGinnis. The booth featured other items such as paintings and sweatshirts.

David Carlisle, assistant chief of the campus' Department of Public Safety, told the Daily Trojan that on Wednesday morning, approximately 50 students gathered at McGinnis' booth and asked him to leave. The vendor had the proper permits to conduct business there, said DPS, but had agreed to leave.

A statement from the university said that a "vendor was asked to leave because the items he was selling led to the vendor causing a disruption on campus. The merchandise the vendor was selling did not meet community standards, per USC guidelines for vendors who wish to sell goods and services on campus."

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Ilana Spiegel, a junior majoring in communication, was among the students who'd taken note of the shirt. Spiegel said that McGinnis claimed that the shirt was meant, in part, to promote the symbol's roots in Asian culture. While it is true that the symbol is a prominent fixture in Hindu and Buddhist iconography, many believe that the swastika's meaning is now inseparable from its place in the Holocaust. In light of the incident, members of USC Hillel, a Jewish student organization, were sent a memo that stated, "These items are anti-Semitic and trivialize the Holocaust, an incredibly dark period in history in which more than 6 million Jews perished."

Spiegel posted about her reaction on Facebook:

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USC's Annenberg Media uploaded a video that shows students getting into a heated exchange over the vendor's right to sell the shirt:

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According to guidelines set by the university, vendors are expected to sell products that "[provide] significant positive value to the quality of campus student life" and are "not considered obscene as defined by community standards."

A previous version of this article misstated that the incident happened on Tuesday.