(JTA) – The man who shouted “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” from the balcony during intermission of a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” in Baltimore, apologized for his outburst and said the comparison came out wrong.
Anthony M. Derlunas II, 58, caused some members of the audience to panic and flee he Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore on Wednesday night. They feared an attack similar to one three weeks ago at a synagogue building in Pittsburgh that left 11 worshippers dead.
In an interview on Friday with the Baltimore Sun, Derlunas acknowledged that he had been drinking heavily before the show.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is the story of a Jewish family facing persecution in czarist Russia and is based on Yiddish short stories by Sholem Aleichem. Prior to the intermission, the Russians stage a pogrom against the Jewish residents of the village of Anatevka during the wedding of the main character’s daughter.
Derlunas was removed from the theatre by security and turned over to the police. He later told police officers that he yelled the slogans because the final scene before intermission reminded him of his hatred for U.S. President Donald Trump, the New York Times reported.
No charges were filed against Derlunas because his words “are considered protected free speech because nobody was directly threatened,” Matthew Jablow, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, told reporters. He has, however, been banned from returning to the theatre for life.
“I shouldn’t have taken my political frustrations out at a public show. How I could have been so stupid and insensitive, I don’t know,” He told the Sun. “I was so insensitive. But I am not a racist, I am not anti-Semitic. I feel so sorry for the fear and the people’s night that I ruined. I just wasn’t thinking at the time.”
Derlunas apologized to the theater and reportedly is reaching out to local rabbis so that he can apologize to the local Jewish community.