After the U.S. Women’s National Team took home the gold earlier this month at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the team has been on a whirlwind celebration tour including a ticker-tape parade in New York City. But now, New York City police say that they are investigating a possible hate crime after posters featuring Megan Rapinoe were defaced with homophobic slurs.
The vandalized posters were found in the Bryant Park subway station and have since been wiped clean.
The police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. NYPD detective Sophia Mason told NBC News on Thursday that the “Hate Crimes Task Force was notified and the incident is being investigated.”
The vandalism comes on the heels of the historic win for the team, which contains several out queer members. Rapinoe is an out lesbian and has been outspoken in her support of LGBTQ causes and gender equality, including calling for more inclusion of trans athletes and fighting for equal pay compared to the U.S. Men’s National Team.
So far this year, there have been 18 known hate crimes against investigated by the NYPD, which marks a 64% spike from last year. The spike in hate crimes has prompted the police to be on edge, and they emphasized their interest in combatting hate crimes on news of the increased numbers, saying that there is “no place for hate in New York City and the detectives of the Hate Crime Task Force are working diligently to eliminate these crimes and to bring perpetrators of hate to justice.”
LGBTQ advocates said the incident served as a reminder of how far we have to go.
“Following the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s victory, we should be coming together to celebrate women like Megan who are blazing a trail for LGBTQ people in sports,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis told Newsweek. “Unfortunately, the disgraceful vandalism serves as a painful reminder for how much work needs to be done to create a culture where LGBTQ people are accepted for who we are and celebrated for our contributions to our country.”