MANHATTAN — MTA police arrested a 65-year-old Brooklyn man for drawing swastikas in Penn Station bathrooms, officials said Monday.
Pasquale Vargas, 65, said he scrawled the graffiti “because Mexicans take jobs from Americans,” according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Police believe Vargas is also responsible for graffiti reading “KKK” and “Mexican Go Home.”
MTA detectives noticed graffiti in a bathroom stall after Vargas walked out, officials said. They stopped him under suspicion of vandalization and found a black Sharpie in his bag.
Officials first received complaints about hateful graffiti on Feb. 18. Hate crimes in New York City have spiked 55 percent.
“This arrest sends a clear message that all hate crimes will be thoroughly investigated, and we will prosecute those found responsible for perpetrating these reprehensible actions,” Gov. Cuomo said. “We have zero tolerance for these acts of bigotry, which stand in direct contrast to the values that we New Yorkers represent.”
Vargas was charged with eight counts of criminal mischief. They are being prosecuted as a hate crime because of the content of the graffiti.
“No one should think they can get away with trying to intimidate the public in this way,” MTA Chief of Police Owen Monaghan said.