Man says swastika lawn display is 'Tibetan symbol', neighbors complain

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An East Bay man has turned an apparent landscaping effort into a controversy over a symbol synonymous with hatred, fear and racism. 

On a quiet, residential El Sobrante street, we found a man working on a front-lawn display, after receiving a tip. 

The symbol in the man's front lawn is a massive swastika, forever associated with Nazi Germany, also known as the Third Reich.

The brazen display has generated complaints. 

"That was my across the street neighbor. She usually...she's a real nice lady you know. She said she didn't like that symbol," said Steve Johnson who claims to be the homeowner. 

KTVU flew Skyfox above Johnson's yard to get a closer look at the display. We also spoke with him to see what the yard display meant. 

That's the design of my front handrail I have on my house. I was just continuing it on my front yard. Just to get the weeds out of there,” was one answer Johnson gave.

When pressed on his answer he then said, "It's a Tibetan symbol. That's a life symbol. The Tibetan priests used to have that way before Hitler was even thought of,” said Johnson.

To clarify, KTVU's Tom Vacar asked, "[It's] not a Nazi swastika symbol?"

"No. No," Johnson replied. 

In ancient times, most, but not all, swastika's arms pointed in a counter-clockwise direction. But, Nazi swastikas point clockwise, as does the one in the El Sobrante front yard.

“I ain't got no hatred in me. There's no hatred in me. I love everybody,” said Johnson.

A neighbor is not so sure. “In all honesty, I just thought it was gonna resemble something completely different when it was done. So, I really didn't think twice about it. I still don't know if he's done with it. I still don't know what it's gonna look like when it's done but, you know, if people are worried about what he's doing with it, I can see why somebody would want to rip that up,” said Michael Crandall.

Another neighbor who did not want to be interviewed said a lot of neighbors are unhappy about it and consider it inappropriate, whether on private property or not.

Watch: Skyfox flies over man's front-lawn swastika display