VIDEO: Woman Arrested for Defacing Racist Ad in New York Subway
Mona Eltahawy, 45, was arrested on charges including criminal mischief and making graffiti after she used a can of pink spray paint to cover the words, “In a war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. ” The under text of the ad says, “Support Israel” and “Defeat Jihad” in red letters. The lone protester maintains her direct action was a form of “non-violent freedom of expression,” not vandalism.
Strangely, a lone counter-protester appeared to protect the racist ad by placing her body between it at the can of spray paint.
“Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?” said Pamela Hall, as she began to position her self in front of the ad.
“I do actually, I think this is freedom of expression, just as this is freedom of expression,” Eltahawy responded in a non-confrontational manner as she continued to spray over the woman’s shoulders.
The two person stand off continued for nearly three minutes before police arrived to instantly make their arrest. While one hand was already cuffed, Eltahawy repeatedly asked what she is being charged with, with out ever getting a response from the arresting officers.
“For what? Tell me what I’m under arrest for! I need to know what you’re arresting me for! It’s my right to know what you’re arresting me for, it is my right as a US citizen to know what you’re arresting me for,” Eltahawy voiced to the muted officers. “I’m expressing myself freely and I’ve hurt no one,” the protester says to a small applause by the growing crowd of on lookers.
Eltahawy continued to speak her mind as police walked her out of the area. “See this America? This is non-violent protest! This is what happens to non-violent protesters in America in 2012,” as some in the crowd audibly agree. “I’m Egyptian American, and I refuse hate and I will continue to non-violently protest hate and that is hate and racism,” she continued as the video ends.
The ads were approved by a federal court ruling on first amendment grounds after Pamela Geller, a leader of the group ’Stop Islamization of America‘ was denied her first request to post the ads by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Geller reportedly paid $6,000 to have the anti-Arab ads up for one month.
Though Eltahawy acted alone in this attempt to erase racist propaganda, she was not alone over all. Since the ads debuted in 10 Manhattan stations on Monday, several have been defaced by like minded protesters. Multiple photos have been spread around social networking sites of similar actions.
The internet collective of activists known as ‘Anonymous’ has called for actions like this to occur where ever the racist ads pop up. @YourAnonNews, who has over 640,000 followers on Twitter tweeted, “#NYCsubway welcome to #OpSavage” with an image of a defaced ad early Tuesday morning.