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ACLU Takes Up Case of Student Forced to Remove Hitler Shirt

September 21, 1990

EAST ISLIP, N.Y. (AP) _ The American Civil Liberties Union said Friday a high school student’s freedom of speech rights were violated when he was ordered to remove a T-shirt with ″Adolf Hitler European Tour 1939-1945″ emblazoned on it.

″This is definitely a free speech issue,″ said David Jampol, an ACLU attorney representing the student, Anthony Traficante.

When Traficante, 17, a senior at East Islip High School on New York’s Long Island, wore the T-shirt to school Sept. 7, school administrators told him to take it off or face suspension.

Traficante said he had not meant to offend anyone and that school officials missed the shirt’s black humor. He changed shirts, but he also called the ACLU to take up his case.

″We hope we will be able to get the school district to take a more reasonable position,″ said Jampol. ″If they don’t, we are prepared to take this to litigation.″

East Islip High School Principal Clyde Payne said at the time that the shirt is anti-Semitic and was not worn in jest. Neither he nor other school district representatives were available for comment Friday because of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashana.

Jampol said he will be sending copies of Supreme Court cases on freedom of speech to the school district’s lawyer ″so he can talk to the school board about this issue.″

Jampol said he hopes to contact the school attorney on Monday or Tuesday.

The ACLU is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and defending the Bill of Rights. It has 300,000 members nationwide.

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