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Former ‘right-wing extremist’ paints over racist graffiti in Chilliwack, garners worldwide attention

Chilliwack man gains worldwide attention for standing up to racism
WATCH: A Chilliwack man is being applauded for standing up to racism after a Tweet showing him covering some offensive graffiti went viral. John Hua has more on the man's journey to acceptance.

When Nick Cooper spotted some racist graffiti in Chilliwack, he took action and a few photos.

Those images have travelled around the world after he posted them on Twitter.

Cooper said last week, he saw a swastika and a white nationalist message scrawled under a local bridge.

“This is a great community, a very diverse community,” he said. ‘It just upsets me to see such hate.

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“I actually thought to myself, ‘Someone should paint over that,’ and then thought, ‘Wow, I’m preaching to myself.'”

After painting over the graffiti, he posted photos to Twitter on Friday along with the message: “Goodbye racist graffiti, not in my town, thank you.”

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By the next morning, his tweet had taken off.

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Racist graffiti spray painted on Toronto man’s SUV
Racist graffiti spray painted on Toronto man’s SUV

“I actually thought that my phone had been hacked. Finally when I looked at it and realized that the tweet had gone viral… I didn’t even know what that meant at the time.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Cooper’s tweet had received 78,000 retweets and 350,000 likes.

Behind Cooper’s viral tweet is an even more powerful back story.

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“I was involved in hate groups,” Cooper said. “I was a right-wing extremist. I believed in some of the stuff that was actually written on that wall.”

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Cooper, who was born and raised in the UK, said complications during the birth of his daughter 20 years ago made him change his ways.

“I watched an East Indian doctor and an Afro-Caribbean nurse save my wife and baby’s life,” he said.

He hopes that his story can inspire change in others.

“Maybe by my action, they might see what I’ve done and maybe it may change them.”