New York City police say they are investigating after posters featuring U.S. women's soccer star Megan Rapinoe, an out lesbian, were defaced with slurs.
Police said Wednesday the vandalism, which was discovered inside the Bryant Park subway station in midtown Manhattan, was being investigated as a possible hate crime. The posters, which were found Monday, have since been scrubbed clean.
NYPD detective Sophia Mason confirmed to NBC News on Thursday that the "Hate Crimes Task Force was notified and the incident is being investigated."
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The vandalism was discovered just one day after the U.S. Women's National Team, of which Rapinoe is a co-captain, won the World Cup. The team was honored with a ticker tape parade on New York City's Canyon of Heroes on Wednesday.
Rapinoe, the 2019 World Cup MVP, has been an outspoken advocate for gender equity and LGBTQ inclusion. After the parade, the soccer star urged Americans to "love more" and "hate less."
Prior to winning her second straight World Cup, Rapinoe traded highly publicized barbs with President Donald Trump. In a video clip shared in June on social media, Rapinoe said, "I'm not going to the f---ing White House." Trump responded on Twitter, saying, "I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women's Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!"
Meanwhile, the NYPD announced Tuesday it had arrested and charged a man suspected of burning three gay pride flags in two separate incidents outside a Harlem gay bar.
Tyresse Singleton, 20, is facing hate crime and arson charges for allegedly burning two rainbow flags displayed outside Alibi Lounge on May 31, the eve of LGBTQ Pride Month, and another Monday.
Alexi Minko, the owner of Alibi Lounge, which is described on its Instagram page as the only black-owned gay lounge in New York City, expressed gratitude to the NYPD.
"We are relieved and we hope that it serves as an example to anyone who might get the terrible idea to commit a hate crime against someone based on their sexual orientation, their gender or their race," Minko told NBC News on Wednesday.
Hate crimes have spiked in New York City by 64 percent so far this year, according to the NYPD. In the first five months of 2019, there were 18 attacks motivated by the victim's sexual orientation, up from 15 during the same period of 2018, the department reported.
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