These New Yorkers' Way to Stand Up to Anti-Semitism Went Viral

February 5th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

A group of New York commuters had a surprising response when confronted with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti on every ad in their subway car.

They took it upon themselves to wipe the racist vandalism away — and their action went viral as a potent example of how to stand up in the face of fascism.

Gregory Locke, who was a passenger on the train, said he and his fellow passengers were initially stunned into silence when they saw swastikas and messages like "Jews belong in the oven" scrawled in indelible ink on every ad and every window of their car.

Then one as-yet unidentified man stood up and said: "Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol."

People began searching for tissues and anything that could be used to wipe away the hateful sentiments.

"I've never seen so many people simultaneously reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and Purel," Locke said in a Facebook post. The hate speech was cleaned up within two minutes, he said.

The simple but dramatic episode played out in the context of an increase in anti-Semitic and other hate crimes since the election of President Donald Trump, which energized white nationalists and white supremacists.

The actions on the New York 1 Train are just one way Americans are showing that not everyone is willing to accept the wave of hate crimes as the new normal.