New York subway riders band together to remove swastikas from train car



NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The tale of the strangers aboard a New York subway car who teamed up this weekend to scrub away neo-Nazi graffiti went viral on Sunday, in an incident that highlighted a recent rise in hate and bias crimes reported around the country.

Passengers said on social media that when they boarded a subway car on Saturday night they found someone had drawn messages in black marker targeting Jews and Muslims and praising Adolf Hitler, the German leader responsible for the Holocaust.

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"The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do," attorney Gregory Locke wrote later in a Facebook post.

Then, he added, "One guy got up and said, 'Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.' He found some tissues and got to work."

The Nazi symbolism was gone within two minutes, he added.

Locke's Facebook post had been shared more than 342,000 times as of Sunday afternoon.

The clean-up was not a planned event but an example of spontaneous unity in a metropolis that prides itself on diversity, passengers said.

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Wall of sticky notes in New York subway defies Trump
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Wall of sticky notes in New York subway defies Trump
Messages written on post-it notes decorate a wall that was started in reaction to the election of President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A woman stops to read and photograph messages written on post-it notes regarding the election of President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A young girl adds a message written on a post-it note to a display that was started in reaction to the election of President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A woman adds a message written on a post-it note to a display that was started in reaction to the election of President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Messages written on post-it notes decorate a wall that was started in reaction to the election of President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A woman stops to photograph messages written on post-it notes regarding the election of President-elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., November 15, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Post-election Post-it notes are seen pasted along a tiled walk at Union Square subway station in New York U.S., November 14, 2016. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Post-it notes, many with politically themed messages, hang on a wall at the 6th Avenue subway station as part of a public art project entitled 'Subway Therapy,' November 10, 2016 in New York City. Artist Matthew Chavez, who goes by 'Levee,' created the 'Subway Therapy' wall to offer New Yorkers a chance to write down their feelings in the wake of the presidential election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Subway riders leave post-it notes on the walls of a subway tunnel on November 10, 2016 in New York City. New York commuters are venting anger and frustration over Republican Donald Trump's shock victory by indulging in collective therapy -- writing messages on post-it notes and sticking them on a subway wall. / AFP / Catherine Triomphe (Photo credit should read CATHERINE TRIOMPHE/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: People write and hang post-it notes, many with politically themed messages, on a wall at the 6th Avenue subway station as part of a public art project entitled 'Subway Therapy,' November 10, 2016 in New York City. Artist Matthew Chavez, who goes by 'Levee,' created the 'Subway Therapy' wall to offer New Yorkers a chance to write down their feelings in the wake of the presidential election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: A man writes a message on a post-it note as part of a public art project entitled 'Subway Therapy' at the 6th Avenue subway station, November 10, 2016 in New York City. Artist Matthew Chavez, who goes by 'Levee,' created the 'Subway Therapy' wall to offer New Yorkers a chance to write down their feelings in the wake of the presidential election. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Those who joined the effort were "satisfied in just doing the right thing," another of them, chef Jared Nied, told CNN.

The number of hate and bias incidents reported across the United States jumped in the days immediately after President Donald Trump's election victory in November.

Last month, more than a dozen U.S. Jewish community centers were also targeted in three waves of telephone bomb threats, forcing evacuations though the threats were later determined to be hoaxes.

The subway incident was reported on Sunday to the New York Police Department, which is investigating it as a possible hate crime, Sgt. Jessica McRorie said.

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Survivors pay homage to Auschwitz victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day
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Survivors pay homage to Auschwitz victims on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The Nazi slogan "Arbeit macht frei" (Work sets you free) is pictured at the gates of the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivor stands in front of the "death wall" in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivor places flowers at the "death wall" in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors walk in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
Survivors stand before laying a wreath in front of the "death wall" in the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland January 27, 2017, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of the camp by Soviet troops and to remember the victims of the Holocaust. Agency Gazeta/Kuba Ociepa/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. POLAND OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN POLAND
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The clean-up happened on a subway train near the Lincoln Center arts complex on Manhattan's Upper West Side, McRorie said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday a similar incident happened in recent days, when a passenger on a different train spotted a swastika scrawled over an image of an American flag. The passenger, whom Cuomo did not name, used a marker to turn the symbol into a box with four quadrants and wrote in the letters L-O-V-E.

"This is what New Yorkers do - we turn hate into love," Cuomo wrote on Twitter.

(Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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