By Federico Cornetto
A social warrior uses a powerful jetwasher to blast away racist graffiti – including swastikas.
Corey Fleischer, from Montreal, Canada, is a professional graffiti eraser who has founded a one-of-a-kind movement, ErasingHate, which encourages people to remove hateful markings.
Be it swastikas, racial slurs or homophobic hate, Corey is constantly scanning the city’s walls for his next target to wash away using the powerful jets of water.
Corey said: “I wake up every morning and eat hate for breakfast, I eat hate for lunch and I eat hate for dinner and when I go to bed, I still think about hate.
“Erasing hate is my drug.”
According to Corey, while many people think that his project started from a grand vision he had, the truth is he started doing it only for himself.
Corey said: “I was a professional graffiti eraser but I was unhappy with my job.
“I saw a swastika one day and I had all the power to make a difference, but instead I just drove on.
“Later that day, I finally decided to drive back to that spot, because the feeling that I could do something was eating at me, and I removed the swastika from the wall.
“In those 15 seconds, I got a feeling that I had been searching for my whole life, a feeling I immediately wanted to experience again.
“That’s how I got addicted to erasing hate.
“It gave me a rush, and at the start it was just me selfishly feeling complete, but it ended up inspiring people, and that is great.”
After spending five years erasing hate in his own time and without receiving much public attention, a dramatic change suddenly happened when Corey landed on social media around 2015.
Corey said: “For the first five years everyone, including my family and friends, thought I was crazy, because nobody else was doing this.
“Since I started posting my video on social media, things have changed a lot.
“It went from me doing it by myself to people sending me videos every morning showing me how I inspired them to go out there and do it themselves.
“Every day, new people all over the world are becoming part of the ErasingHate army and going out to erase hateful graffiti.
“People were scared of it, but now it’s something cool.”
Corey says the real turning point was in 2016, when he received a peace medal together with 30 holocaust survivors.
It was then that he realised ErasingHate had stopped being about him and had become about everybody else.
He said: “I realised I was having an impact in the world.
“ErasingHate has now become the first movement of its kind, that targets, locates and eliminates hate speech graffiti anywhere in the world free of charge.”
Corey stressed the importance of social media in spreading the word about initiatives like his own.
He said: “There’s social change in the world for stuff that people do on social media.
“A lot of time people think you need millions of dollars, algorithms or these unattainable things in order to create social change around the world.
“You don’t, and you see social media accounts like my own are starting to inspire people in the world.
“The only difference between me and everybody else in the world is that I have a power washer, some water and the drive to make a difference.
“And this is just the beginning, who knows what will happen in a few years.”