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German Granny Has Been Battling Hate Speech All by Herself, for 31 Years

72-year-old Irmela Mensah-Schram is a special kind of cleaning lady. For the last 31 years, she has been travelling across Germany, cleaning its streets of hateful messages, be they propaganda posters or graffiti. She has received death threats from neo-nazis and the police have fined her numerous times, but she continues her fight against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia.

Armed with a small scraper and a can of spray-paint, Irmela Mensah-Schram, a.k.a. Germany’s “Hate Destroyer” has been removing or covering up Nazi propaganda and other right-wing slogans across her country for over three decades. For many, she is a hero fighting against hate, while some consider her actions to be in violation of freedom of speech, and even state officials have mixed feelings about her. She has received several awards for her long-term efforts to keep hateful propaganda off the streets, but she has also been fined and even taken to court for damaging others’ property.

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