NY Judge Resigns After Allegedly Captioning an Image of a Noose with 'MAGA'

A New York judge resigned and was barred from judicial office after he posted a social media image of a noose with the caption “Make America Great Again” a few months ago.

Kyle R. Canning, a part-time town judge in Altona, New York, submitted his resignation in June after the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct charged Canning with conveying “racial and/or political bias” on Facebook, according to a statement from the commission released on September 17.

In February 2018, Canning, 29, shared a photo of a noose on Facebook with the statement, "IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN,” echoing President Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign slogan, HuffPost reported.

Canning, who entered office in January 2018, was charged by the commission in May, The New York Times reported. After an investigation was opened about the post in June, Canning resigned that same month and agreed to never “seek or accept judicial office in the future,” according to the commission. His term would have ended in 2021.

“The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian said in the statement. “It is the very antithesis of law and justice. For a judge to use the image of the noose in making a political point undermines the integrity of the judiciary and public confidence in the courts.”

Canning told The New York Times that he is a registered Democrat and that “there is not a man that I could despise more than Donald Trump.” He explained that he intended for the post to support the death penalty and at first did not see its racist implications.

“The post was not racist. I’m not a racist guy,” Canning told The New York Times. “I see it as pro-death penalty, pro-capital punishment. It doesn’t need to be a noose; it could have been a gas chamber. It could have been an electric chair.”

Canning, who delivers bread for a living, was asked to run for office by the town supervisor, as town judgeships in New York do not require previous legal experience, The New York Times reported. He told the newspaper that he removed the post from Facebook in August 2018 after he received a letter from the judicial commission. He claimed to have resigned because he could not afford to hire a lawyer and travel to New York City to fight the complaint.

“They have presented me with several different options in resolving what they claim to be a serious offense," Canning said in his resignation letter, according to The Washington Post. "I feel as though, due to my current financial situation and obligations to my family, I am being coerced into resigning.”

Earlier this month, a student from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was charged with a hate crime for allegedly placing a noose in a residence hall elevator on campus. Andrew M. Smith, 19, was arrested on September 2 after being questioned by police in his campus residence hall, university police said in a previous statement. Residence hall staff reportedly found the noose on September 1 in Allen Hall.

“Our mission at the University Police Department is to maintain a safe and secure environment where our campus community members feel supported and successful,” said Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Craig Stone in a previous statement. “We do not tolerate incidents that are perceived by others to be a threat to their safety, and we will always respond quickly to identify offenders and hold them accountable for those actions.”

Smith pleaded not guilty to the crime, was released by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office on $5,000 bond, and is set to appear in court on October 22, ABC News previously reported. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker wrote on Twitter that hate is not welcome in the state.

“Our university campuses welcome students from all backgrounds as they come together to learn from each other, to learn from their professors, and to learn how to build thriving communities,” Pritzker previously tweeted. “Hate has no place in Illinois or in its educational institutions, and I’m glad swift action was taken to address this incident.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.