Corey Fleischer started erasing hate symbols nine years earlier when he saw a swastika by the side of the road.
The world, much like American politics is sharply polarised, and the hatred is searing into our daily lives. It's everywhere around us. Racial slurs, religious intolerance, and other symbols of hate are often graffitied on walls, under bridges, or on the pavement. Those targeted are constantly reminded of the hate as they step out of their homes. The world would be a much better place if hate was denied the space to foment. One man has made it his life mission to erase hate from the world, literally. Corey Fleischer, who hails from Montreal, has been erasing hate symbols wherever he sees them for close to a decade. "This is what makes me feel complete as a person," he says, reported CBC News.
It all started nine years earlier when Corey Fleischer driving to a client's home and saw a swastika painted on a block of concrete. He was shocked but kept on driving. He met with the client but the hateful image tormented him. He felt deep regret about not having done something about it. “I wish the story was that I hopped out of my truck with my power washer, and I removed my very first piece of hate, but that's not what happened,” said Fleischer, reported PRI. He told the client that his machine had broken down and needed to head back home, before driving to the location and erasing the sign. “I went back to Monkland and I erased my first swastika,” he said. Since then, he has made it his personal mission to erase symbols of hate. Removing hate crimes in public spaces was right up his alley as he runs a graffiti removal company. He already has all the tools at his disposal. He spends much of his free time removing hate symbols.
He started "Erasing Hate," a volunteer group that works to remove hateful graffiti. He works with the help of social media where people alert him of hateful symbols before he along with a small crew gets to work and has the hate sign removed. He frequently shares his team removing hate symbols on Instagram. In one such video, he can be seen applying cement on a swastika sign on a cement floor. "25-year-old swastika covered in just 20 seconds," says Corey Fleischer as he dabs cement on the floor to cover up the hate sign. “And just like that, your hate is gone,” he adds. "I’m dedicating this to the 11 people who were massacred at the synagogue in Pittsburgh," reads the caption of the post. The Pittsburgh synagogue shooter had reportedly said he 'wanted all Jews to die. Erasing Hate also helps with covering up hate-filled tattoos.'
Removing hate symbols gives Fleischer much satisfaction. He said that removing these symbols “is like drugs…It’s an extremely euphoric feeling. It’s something that I’ve never been able to explain.” Fleischer knows hate crimes are high in number in his hometown in Montreal. In 2018, until November, the Montreal police service had reported 172 hate crimes, of which 71 were related to religion. A majority of the incidents were aimed at Jewish people, followed by Muslims.
He has now made it his aim to remove hate symbols all over the world. He has launched an app on both iOS and Android platforms. The app, "Erasing Hate," allows anyone in the world to report hate graffiti. They can also send photos and geolocation of the graffiti. Fleischer then uses his social media presence to seek volunteers to remove the symbols. “We remove hate anywhere in the world, free of charge,” said Corey. He has helped remove hate graffiti in Paris and Los Angeles through the app and hopes to do the same all over the world.