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Graffiti in MBTA station reflects national increase in race incidents

Eliza Dewey | 12/27/2017, 11:31 a.m.
Some racist and anti-Semitic graffiti in South Boston’s Andrew MBTA Station appears to fit into a nationwide pattern of increasingly ...
A swastika and “white power” slogan on a bench at Andrew Station on the Red Line. Eliza Dewey

“To me, it’s only started since Trump came around,” she added without being prompted to comment on the president. “Like what happened in Charlotte — he said it was both sides but it’s not. I’m sorry, he says he’s not prejudiced, but to me he’s the most prejudiced person I’ve ever heard.”

Another commuter, a middle-aged white man who declined to give his name, said he was unconcerned by the graffiti.

“I think the swastika is a beautiful symbol,” he said unironically when asked for his thoughts on the markings. “Adolf Hitler borrowed it — I think it’s a shame how the Nazis bastardized that symbol; it used to mean good luck.” While this is technically accurate — it was originally an ancient religious symbol from the Indian subcontinent — when the man was asked to comment on the graffiti in the context of what the symbol means in 21st-Century America, he said he remained unfazed.

“People have the right to free speech,” he said, adding that he “didn’t agree” with the graffiti message. “Thirty years ago, this wasn’t an issue,” he concluded as his train arrived. “Who’s stirring the pot?”

Another commuter had a simple response for the people behind the graffiti. “We’re all the same, what’s the fuss about?” said Rosemary Holness, a Jamaican American nurse’s aide from Boston. “We need more love. People need to love each other more.” She said that she had not noticed the graffiti before, but also noted that she also did not necessarily feel any more unsafe because of it. “In general, people are crazy — you don’t know who is who,” she said.

When the Banner approached the Andrew Station customer service manager about the graffiti, he quickly went to check it out, saying he would file a report with the MBTA police.

While he declined to give his name, the employee did say that such sentiments had a personal impact on him as a Vietnamese American person. “It bothers me but there’s nothing I can do,” he said. He said he experienced various forms of racism on the job “all the time,” calling it part of having a job dealing with the public. He has worked for the agency for more than 15 years.

The ADL’s Trestan said that the manager’s response was encouraging. “That’s the kind of thing that we want,” he told the Banner.

When the Banner followed up with the MBTA Transit Police the following day, an officer said the report would be referred to the MBTA Crime Analysis Unit. He said reports of this kind of graffiti were “not very common” but said when they do occur, the MBTA’s policy is to dispatch a transit officer to investigate it as well as put in a work request to remove it.