Swastika graffiti sees New York subway train taken out of service during rush hour commute

'It’s not just what we saw in Charlottesville. It’s beyond that. That was a rare opportunity to see the face of hate in a very meaningful way'

 

Clark Mindock
New York
Wednesday 13 February 2019 17:56
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Trains are regularly removed from service when graffiti is reported by a passenger or MTA employee
Trains are regularly removed from service when graffiti is reported by a passenger or MTA employee

Police are investigating after a swastika was reported on a New York City Subway car, prompting the removal of the train during the morning rush hour.

The incident was confirmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Twitter account, which responded to a disgruntled passenger waiting during their morning commute.

“Hi Amanda. The out of service train was removed from service with swastikas in it,” the Twitter account responded. “There are L trains at just about every other station now between Bedford Av and Myrtle Av”.

Another tweet read: "Good morning. Sad to say that the train was vandalised with swastikas".

Trains are regularly removed from service when graffiti is reported by a passenger or MTA employee, a spokesperson with the subway system told The Independent. The policy of train removal and cleaning has been around for decades, spurred by an effort in the city to clean up the subway system’s image.

When asked if graffiti portraying something more benign – a child's cartoon, for instance – would justify taking a subway train out of service during rush hour, the spokesperson said it would. But, a full train being taken out of service would suggest that graffiti was found in multiple cars, they added.

Antisemitic hate crimes have been on the rise in the city, with the New York Police Department (NYPD) reporting last October that they had seen 142 of those crimes at that point in the year compared to 126 during the same period the year before.

In January of this year, too, the city saw an increase, according to NYPD statistics. While overall crime dropped 8 per cent in New York last month compared to January 2018, hate crimes spiked with 42 reported in the month compard to just 19 during the same time the year before, Police Commissioner James O'Neill and Mayor Bill De Blasio said during a press conference last month.

That increase does not appear to have been isolated to New York.

The Anti-Defamation League has noted that the rate of antisemitic hate crimes spiked following the Charlottesville white supremacist rally in 2017 where white nationalists killed a woman after driving through a crowd of peacefully assembled counter protesters.

In response to the incidents in Charlottesville, Donald Trump suggested that there had been “fine people on both sides” in the city on that day.

Those comments were widely criticised, with critics fearing that Mr Trump was giving cover to white supremacists by not forcefully denouncing their actions.

Evan Bernstein, the regional director in New York and New Jersey for the Anti-Defamation League, told The Independent that the incidents in Charlottesville — and the uptick in anti-semitic hate crimes reported throughout New York and the US recently — are the face of a growing movement that has taken root online, where racist ideas can flow freely.

"You've seen swastikas on synagogues, swastikas in synagogues," Mr Bernstein said. But "there's a lot of stuff that is not taking place in the public square that is a little bit harder to monitor and a little bit harder to track".

"It’s not just what we saw in Charlottesville," he continued. "It’s beyond that. That was a rare opportunity to see the face of hate in a very meaningful way".

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