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Hundreds protest after swastikas and 'Go Trump' appear in NY park

President-elect Donald Trump, meanwhile, was in New Jersey assessing several more contenders for top US posts
People participate in anti-hate rally at Brooklyn park named in memory of Beastie Boys band member Adam Yauch on Sunday after it was defaced with swastikas (AFP)

At least 300 people, including Beastie Boys singer Adam Horovitz, protested in New York on Sunday against what they said were hate crimes inspired by the election of Donald Trump, after swastikas appeared in a Brooklyn park.

Trump, meanwhile, was in New Jersey assessing several more contenders for top US posts, including Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, as blunt-spoken retired Marine Corps General James Mattis emerged as a leading candidate for defence secretary.

The Brooklyn park bears the name of rapper Adam Yauch, one of the Beastie Boys, who campaigned for human rights. The popular group broke up in 2012 following his death from cancer. Yauch had played in the park as a child.

Some time before Friday morning, vandals used spray paint to draw awkwardly formed swastikas and the words "Go Trump" on a children's playground train. 

City workers quickly painted over the graffiti and by Sunday the defaced areas had been covered with flowers, hearts, messages of love and Tibetan flags, in tribute to Yauch, who was a Buddhist.

The defacement - of a sort seen in many parts of the country since Trump's election, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which monitors extremism - sparked widespread outrage on social media.  

Brad Lander, a New York City councilman, criticised Trump in a Tweet, saying that the president-elect "took time to condemn the thoughtful plea of the @HamiltonMusical cast. But not the swastikas in his name in a Brooklyn playground". 

Trump criticised the Hamilton cast on Twitter after a lead actor had urged vice president-elect Mike Pence, who attended a performance on Friday, to ensure that the incoming administration respect racial, cultural and social diversity.

Trump held meetings at his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday with candidates for senior administration jobs after he takes office on 20 January. On Saturday, he conferred with Mattis and Mitt Romney, formerly a fierce Trump critic now under consideration for secretary of state.

Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, advised Trump during the presidential campaign but was dismissed as the head of his transition team. Asked by reporters before the meeting whether there was a place for Christie in his administration, Trump sidestepped the question, but called him "a very talented man, great guy".

Giuliani, the former New York mayor, was a candidate for secretary of state "and other things", Trump said.

Trump met with Wilbur Ross, the billionaire investor, who he said was under consideration for commerce secretary. Asked whether he wanted the job, Ross told reporters: "Well, time will tell." Trump also met with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is known for his hardline position on illegal immigration.

Horovitz was joined by elected officials including New York state senator Daniel Squadron, a Democrat, as well as leaders of several religious communities. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats, have said they will not tolerate hate crimes or expressions of racism, and they announced a series of measures to protect anyone targeted, whether Muslim, Jew, immigrant or member of a sexual minority.

Thus, Cuomo announced on Sunday that he was creating a special state-police unit to deal with such crimes.

Having set up a special help line to take calls from potential victims, Cuomo also announced the creation of a fund to help immigrants in need of legal protection.