The audience reacts after a man interrupts the "Fiddler on the Roof" performance at the Hippodrome Theatre. (Video courtesy of Rich Scherr)
After a man shouted “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” during intermission of a performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” at Baltimore’s Hippodrome Theatre, the anti-Semitic outburst drew criticism from those inside and outside the historic venue.
It was later revealed that Anthony Derlunas, 58, told police he “had been drinking heavily throughout the night” before the outburst. According to a police report from the incident, Derlunas said the scene before intermission had reminded him of his hatred for the president, which is why he shouted. He was confused when people around him became angry. The officer deduced “that his intention was to express his dislike for President Donald Trump.”
Here’s what Baltimore leaders, locals, theater patrons and others had to say about the outburst:
The Hippodrome apologized to Wednesday’s attendees in a statement.
“We apologize to those patrons who were affected by this unfortunate incident. Our venue has a proud tradition of providing shared experiences to people from all walks of life, right in the heart of this wonderfully diverse city, and we intend to continue that tradition in the spirit of bringing people together, not dividing them.”
City leaders, such as Baltimore City Councilman Zeke Cohen, called for unity. Cohen wrote an op-ed for The Baltimore Sun urging togetherness among Baltimore’s leadership.
“Our history is filled with moments of powerful connection and deep division. At our best, we have fought together, prayed together, marched together and defended each other’s right to exist. At our worst, we have been actively complicit in each other’s oppression. We cannot pretend away our differences, ignore the pain we have caused or dismiss our complicated politics. But we can use this moment of national discord, to heal at home. We have decided that in Baltimore, we will not fear each other. We will stand shoulder to shoulder and fight for each other,” he wrote.
Some social media users lamented the state of the country.
Others discussed the terror inherent in the incident.
Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, likened the outburst to shouting “fire” in a theater.
“Things like that anywhere, much less crowded theaters, is a really potentially dangerous thing, you know. We’re all very sensitive and concerned in the wake of the recent shootings,” Libit said. “Shouting that seems to be the equivalent of shouting ‘fire’ in a theater, or shouting ‘bomb.’ ”
Audience member Theodore Casser said the incident made the following act all the more poignant for him as a Jewish person.
“It is a story inherently about Jews being made not to feel welcome, and here is this bozo who decided to express that he felt we should not be welcome here either,” Casser said.
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Casser said he felt comfortable with the Hippodrome’s security measures Wednesday, but was uneasy about an anti-Semitic incident happening in a city with a sizable Jewish population.
“It’s a little sobering because it’s getting closer and closer to home,” he said. “How safe are any of us anyway?”
Several people voiced support for the theater.
Emily Wilson has tickets for an upcoming performance of “Fiddler” this weekend. News of the incident alarmed her, but would not deter her from attending, she said Thursday. Friends have called though, asking her to be careful. One relayed a similar experience of anti-Semitic comments shouted in a grocery store, Wilson said.
“I didn’t think I’d be comparing notes about a Nazi on a Thursday morning,” she said, adding that she’ll be more alert at the Hippodrome this weekend.