(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 Derlunas II, 58, caused some members of the audience to panic and flee the Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday night. They feared an attack similar to one three weeks ago at a synagogue complex in Pittsburgh that left 11 worshippers dead.
In an interview Friday with the Baltimore Sun, Derlunas acknowledged that he had been drinking heavily before the show.
Derlunas was removed from the theater by security and turned over to the police. He told officers that he yelled the slogans because the final scene before intermission — when the Russians stage a pogrom against the Jewish residents of the Russian village of Anatevka during the wedding of the main character’s daughter — reminded him of his hatred for 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 the theater 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,” Derlunas 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.
“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.