Symbols of hate transformed into a moment of love and community for New York City subway riders when they banded together to remove swastikas and other anti-Semitic markings from a train’s walls.
Rider Gregory Locke had just boarded a train in Manhattan Saturday night when he said he found himself face-to-face with the crudely vandalized windows and advertisements.
“The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work.”
The man’s actions sparked a ripple effect among the other riders who Locke said got up to help wipe away the graffiti.
“I’ve never seen so many people simultaneously reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and [Purell]. Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone,” Locke wrote.
Speaking to ABC 7 News, Locke said the actions of his fellow riders left him encouraged.
“Seeing a bunch of strangers stand up for, and come together to stand up for what everyone knows is right, was very heartening,” he told the local station.
“I guess this is Trump’s America,” Locke recalled hearing one passenger say.
“No sir, it’s not,” he responded in his Facebook post. “Not tonight and not ever. Not as long as stubborn New Yorkers have anything to say about it.”
Locke’s post as of Sunday morning has been shared more than 300,000 times.
Chelsea Clinton was among those who shared it to her Twitter followers, adding: “We will not let hate win. And, another reason to carry hand sanitizer.”
In a separate incident, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday shared a photo of similar graffiti that had been drawn in the center of a northbound B train’s American flag.
The markings showed a swastika that had been boxed in, turning it into four squares that were inscribed with “L-O-V-E.”
“This is what New Yorkers do, we turn hate into love,” Cuomo said in statement. “That is our message to the nation and to the world. And we won’t back down. Not now, not ever.”
This story has been updated to include Cuomo’s response.