“I’m a National Socialist – what you guys call a Nazi,” New York cabbie Gabriel Diaz told CBS news on Friday. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission suspended Diaz for a month for wearing a swastika armband last week, after receiving numerous complaints, including from the Anti-Defamation League.
“By openly displaying this hate symbol identified with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party while operating a New York City taxicab, the driver sent a frightening and offensive message to New Yorkers about who might be welcome – and unwelcome – in the taxicab he was driving,” the ADL said Friday in a statement.
Interviewed by CBS, Diaz, who is black, said that he is breaking down color barriers by showing that even African-Americans can be Nazis.
“Whoever said you have to be white to be a National Socialist,” he asked.
“I don’t hate Jews. I’m critical of them, but I don’t hate them,” he told CBS, denying charges of racism. “That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-Semitic. That don’t make me a hater.”
Diaz declined to comment when asked if he was aware of the Holocaust.
The cabbie further complained that his suspension was unjust and said that it pained him to have to apologize for his actions.
Diaz has burned his armband and his parents apologized to the Jewish community, calling their son mentally ill and promising to get him the help he needs, the Daily News reported.
JTA contributed to this report