New Yorkers Come Together to Erase Disgusting Anti-Semitic Graffiti in the Subway

New Yorkers generally like to keep to themselves while riding the subway, but by no means does that mean they won’t spring to action when the need calls for it. One such example happened just last weekend, when a couple of subway riders spotted some unsettling graffiti inside their train car.

New Yorker Gregory Locke was appalled to discover a smattering of anti-Semitic graffiti inside a No. 1 Subway car after returning home from a night out. The train car’s maps, windows and posters had been covered in swastikas and hate speech like “Destroy Israel, Heil Hitler and Jews belong in the oven.” The 27-year-old lawyer tells The New York Times: “The shock quickly subsides and turns into sort of a realistic horror.”

Rather than simply shake his head and turn his eyes away from the hateful message, Mr. Locke and another man, Jared Nied, decided to do something about it. Mr. Nied said he recalled from using a permanent Sharpie by accident when he meant to use a dry erase marker that alcohol would be able to remove the hateful messages. Mr. Nied asked if anybody on the train car had some hand sanitizer.

“I’ve never seen so many people reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and Purell” Gregory Locke wrote on his Facebook page. Within five minutes, the passengers had erased all of the hate speech from the train’s walls and windows.

Neither man reported the graffiti to the police, and neither the New York Police Department or Metropolitan Transit Authority had any other reports of the graffiti. Detective Ahmed Nassir did tell the New York Times there had been other reports of similar graffiti recently though. Swastikas were found on a F train, and a recycling bin in downtown Manhattan was found with the words “Jews are a virus” written in black ink.

While New York City’s subway cars have come a long way from their graffiti-covered past of the 1970s and 80s, incidents like this show that even if there still may be ugliness lurking, there is eventually more love than hate. Earlier this month, a Nazi swastika written over an American flag on a B train was transformed into a message of love that drew praise from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.


For Jared Nied, the cleanup was just a moment of New Yorkers coming together to do the right thing. “Everyone kind of just did their jobs of being decent human beings,” he said.

Mr. Locke’s Facebook post describing the incident with photos of the cleanup captured by several other passengers quickly went viral, generating over 474,000 shares. With praise on the Facebook post for Mr. Locke and Mr. Nied like “NY I love you” and “Love will win after all”, it’s an effective reminder that doing the right thing can sometimes be as simple as pulling out a bottle of hand sanitizer and a few tissues.


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