Posters of world-class soccer champion Megan Rapinoe hanging in New York City’s Bryant Park subway station were defaced with antigay and misogynistic slurs two days ahead of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s triumphant appearance at a ticker-tape parade to celebrate their fourth World Cup win. The New York Police Department is investigating the vandalism as a possible hate crime.
The Nike posters that depict Rapinoe, who is gay, in powerful positions accompanied by slogans like “Dream with us” and “Just do it” were covered with hateful phrases like “shemale” and “screw this ho” scrawled across her face, according to Newsweek.
The incident was reported Monday morning, just about a day after co-captain Rapinoe and her team won the World Cup in a final match against the Netherlands.
The police department worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to swiftly scrub the posters of the vandalism, and NYPD officers have identified a suspect.
"Hate has no place in the transit system, and we work hard to make the subway a welcoming, safe environment for everyone," MTA deputy communications director Shams Tarek told USA Today.
"We referred this to NYPD which responded to investigate, our maintenance teams got the posters cleaned, and we will have them replaced with new ones if necessary."
Rapinoe is widely lauded for her athleticism and activism, but she became the target of Donald Trump’s supporters after he put her on blast on Twitter for saying she would not visit his White House.
The back-and-forth between Rapinoe and Trump, whose administration has been systematically dismantling rights and protections for LGBTQ people for years, began when a reporter asked her ahead of the quarterfinal match against host country France if she was excited about the possibility of going to the White House (which she previously visited under President Barack Obama).
“I’m not going to the fucking White House. No. Not going to the White House. We’re not going to be invited. I doubt it,” Rapinoe said.
Trump responded by claiming that he brought “black unemployment” to its lowest level in history, which appeared to be his rejoinder to Rapinoe’s refusal to sing the National Anthem as a protest against police brutality. He then attacked Rapinoe’s patriotism, although she’s proudly represented the United States in two Olympic Games and three World Cup tournaments.
“We haven’t yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose,” Trump tweeted. “Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!”
Undeterred by Trump’s remarks, Rapinoe not only reiterated that she would not go to his White House, but she also went on to score three goals in the semifinal and final World Cup matches, bringing home the World Cup’s coveted Golden Boot trophy.