New Yorkers say hate will not be tolerated.
Andrew Cuomo reminded voters Sunday that he’s launched a statewide Hate Crimes Task Force charged with investigating and deterring bias incidents and discrimination while citing a recent incident on a B train in NYC, in which a swastika drawn on an American flag was “then boxed out in a black marker and altered with the letters ‘L-O-V-E.’”
Passengers on a 1 train Saturday took matters into their own hands when they encountered a car that found “a swastika on every advertisement and every window,” as Harlem attorney Gregory Locke, 27, recounted on Facebook.
Additional sentiments such as “Heil Hitler” and “Destroy Israel.” had also been written. Locke tried to rub off the graffiti with his finger but the words didn’t budge.
A man (identified by CNN as Jared Nied, a chef in a Manhattan restaurant) stood up, Locke wrote and said, “Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.”
Nied and another woman began scrubbing off the slogans and swastikas as other Purel-packing passengers offered up their tissues and sanitizers. Locke had boarded the 1 at 50th street heading north. The graffiti was entirely gone by Lincoln Center, Locke recounted.
“Everyone on that train was uncomfortable,” when they encountered the swastikas and hate speech, Locke said, but “It took only one person standing up, a person perhaps older and more resourceful than I am, being creative and feeling empowered, to allow everyone else on the train to take the right stand.” Locke said.
Locke’s posting of the citizen cleanup crew went viral and was shared 321,000 times and “liked” more than 464,000 times by 3 p.m. Sunday.
Abruptly cast as a social media celebrity, Locke found himself simultaneously adored by hordes grateful for his inspiring, illustrated story and accused of generating “fake news” or engineering a stunt for publicity by conspiracy theorists.
“I don’t know the guy (who cleaned off the graffiti) and don’t know how to prove I don’t know the guy, but I don’t!” said Locke, who moved to NYC from the Atlanta suburbs about two and a half years ago.
Now feted on Facebook with thousands of friend requests, he is uncertain as to what to do with his new found celebrity. “I don’t envision myself becoming a huge activist,” said Locke. “I just want people to know that the good outweighs the bad,” and it only takes “one person with the right idea” to inspire others to erase hate and triumph over evil.