“Everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do.”
That’s how Gregory Locke described the mood on the car of the subway train he boarded Saturday night, as the passengers saw that swastikas and anti-Semitic statements had been drawn on “every advertisement and on every window,” Locke said in a Facebook post. One photo Locke posted showed the phrase “Jews belong in the oven” written over a map of the subway system.
But instead of riding along in silence, one passenger decided to say something, according to Locke’s post.
“One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work,” Locke wrote.
“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’s story and accompanying photos have struck a cord online, where his post has been shared more than 325,000 times as of Sunday afternoon. Many commenters thanked Locke and his fellow passengers and expressed pride for their actions.
At the same time, some people criticized Locke for mentioning President Donald Trump in his post, pointing to Trump’s support of Israel on the campaign trail.
However, Trump’s supporters have been accused of anti-Semitism in the past, with many journalists reporting harassment based on their religion, according to The New York Times, Washington Post and Politico. The Anti-Defamation League has also pointed to several of Trump’s remarks and actions as having anti-Semitic undertones.
Since the start of 2017, Jewish community centers have received nearly 50 bomb threats, according to The Guardian, a surge that is being investigated by federal authorities. None of the threats have been substantiated thus far, and none have been linked to Trump’s supporters, but the Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a rise in hate crimes since his election.