Just weeks after an anti-Semitic attack killed 11 people in Pittsburgh, audience members in Baltimore listened in fear as a man yelled, “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” at a Wednesday night performance of “Fiddler on the Roof.”
“People started running,” audience member Rich Scherr told the Baltimore Sun. “I’ll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot. I thought, ‘Here we go.’”
No violence broke out, but audience members were still shaken by the outburst.
The man was soon escorted out of the theater by police. The Baltimore Sun reports he was not arrested. The show, that tells the story of a Jewish family facing persecution, went on.
Sick, sad world. A man stands at intermission of tonight’s performance of Fiddler in Baltimore and yells, “Heil Hitler,” along with pro-Trump references. pic.twitter.com/slDcPwF7re
— Rich Scherr (@writerguyRich) November 15, 2018
The event particularly troubled the local Jewish community. Howard Libit, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, told the Baltimore Sun that it could’ve been a much worse situation.
“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.’”
FBI data released this week showed a disturbing upward trend in hate crimes. According to the Washington Post, anti-Semitic hate crimes rose 37 percent last year. The Pittsburgh synagogue shooting earlier this month was the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in U.S. history.
Maryland has been affected by the rise of attacks. The Baltimore Sun reported 78 incidents of anti-Semitic incidents were reported to police in 2017, a 47 percent increase from the year before.
“I’m certainly grateful that it wasn’t the start of some broader, more violent incident,” Libit continued. “Whatever he was intending to say was hateful and hurtful and potentially very dangerous … it sounds like some of the people were kind of moving quickly to get out of the way.”