ALBANY — The state is moving to revoke a Queens man’s vanity license plate that contains an anti-Semitic acronym used by neo-Nazis, the Daily News has learned.
The offensive license plate belongs to Queens resident Paul Schmieder and reads “GTKRWN,” which to hate groups stands for “gas the k—s, race war now.”
A Daily News reporter saw a white Chevy Silverado pickup truck with the license plate as it pulled up to Schmieder’s address on Thursday night.
“I have the right to put anything I want on my car,” said the truck’s driver.
Not according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Its regulations bar license plates that are “in the discretion of the commissioner, obscene, lewd, lascivious, derogatory to a particular ethnic or other groups, or patently offensive.”
The DMV said Thursday it has begun the process of yanking the license plate after being told by the News that Assemblywoman Nily Rozic of Queens was sending a letter calling on the agency to act.
In the letter to Motor Vehicles Commissioner Theresa Egan, Rozic (D-Queens) wrote that “this specific language serves to agitate and incites violence against the Jewish community.”
“As the overseeing authority of New York State license plates, I request that your agency immediately revoke Mr. Schmieder’s offensive vanity plates and ensure that it is not re-assigned to a different motor vehicle,” Rozic wrote. “
“Anti-Semitism, in any form, has no place in society and must be addressed whenever and wherever it arises, particularly when under the purview of a government agency,” Rozic added. “I know you share in this commitment to rejecting a specific code of letters, signs, and numbers developed to symbolize offensive, racist terminology.”
The DMV said it seeks to revoke Schmieder’s license plate “in response to customer complaints.”
“New York State has zero tolerance for hate speech and as soon as the meaning of this heinous acronym was brought to our attention through the regular complaint process we immediately moved to revoke the license plate,” DMV spokeswoman Lisa Koumjian said. “After reviewing the consumer complaints, the plate has been invalidated. A letter will be mailed to the driver with new plates tomorrow.”
Asked if he’d fight to keep the plate, the man driving Schmieder’s truck answered: “I can’t afford a lawyer … I dig holes for a living. I still have dirt in my ears.”
It was there that Firestone met Schmieder, a former trucking company owner who now manages a concrete company in Brooklyn and lives in Queens.
The story describes Schmieder as an average conservative who is still friendly with a childhood Jewish friend.
“Sure,” he is quoted as saying. “They’re not all a part of the Zionist-Occupied Government.”
The story said that while Schmieder expressed admiration for how Jews take care of each other and are serious about their customs, he nonetheless got the GTKRWN license plate.
“Paul was an ordinary Fox News conservative until Trump came along and a co-worker showed him The Daily Stormer (a hate group message board),” Firestone wrote after meeting Schmieder at a neo-Nazi “book club.”
After reading the story and learning about Schmieder’s anti-Semitic license plate, Rozic said she was compelled to act.
“New Yorkers can no longer be asleep at the wheel when we see that recent attacks on the Jewish community spread hateful language and rhetoric,” she said.
The Democratic assemblywoman cited an Anti-Defamation League annual audit that found 1,267 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 2017, up 57% from 2016.
In New York, there were 380 such incidents in 2017, a 90% increase. Queens had the largest jump in anti-anti-Semitic incidents of any of the five boroughs, she said.
“Hate speech and explicit anti-Semitism must be recognized and immediately confronted whenever and wherever it arises, but especially when it appears in our own backyard,” Rozic said.