An intoxicated man yelled, "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump" on Wednesday night during a performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" in Baltimore, prompting people on social media to inaccurately assume and the media to report he was a supporter of President Donald Trump. The man actually dislikes the president and was trying to express his hated by likening him to the late Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler.
CNN reports Trump supporter screamed Heil Hitler at play: gets 9,000 tweets
Baltimore Sun reports it wasn't a Trump supporter, just a drunk guy: gets 72 retweets#firefighters pic.twitter.com/PW2IVc2L99
— Ryan James Girdusky (@RyanGirdusky) November 16, 2018
Anthony M. Derlunas, 58, began his outburst during intermission shouting "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump," sparking fear among other audience members as some of them ran out of the theater fearing that he was going to start shooting. The audience was on edge following recent shootings, including the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh less than three weeks earlier. It resulted in the death of 11 people, plus the shooter. The gunman made anti-Semitic statements during the shooting and targeted Jews on social media.
Several witnesses to Derlunas' actions said people around them seemed "quite shaken by the incident" and said some "people started running." He was holding his hand straight up in a Nazi salute, according to witnesses, prompting multiple ushers to rush over and escort him out of the theater, according to the Baltimore Sun. Derlunas told a police officer that he "had been drinking heavily throughout the night" before being escorted out.
According to the report, Derlunas said that the final scene of the play 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."
Baltimore Police were called and security escorted Derlunas out a few minutes later, a police spokeswoman said, and the show continued.
According to the police report, Derlunas was "calm and compliant" during the interaction and returned to a hotel where he was staying with his girlfriend in the area. Witnesses told The Baltimore Sun that the audience applauded as the man was removed.
Police issued him a stop ticket, which is the least severe measure police can take when responding to a complaint. In addition to the stop ticket, he was permanently banned from the Hippodrome Theater, but he was not arrested. The police spokesman Matt Jablow said, "As reprehensible as those words are, they are considered protected free speech because nobody was directly threatened."
Several Democrats and media outlets took to social media following initial reports of the incident to accuse Derlunas of being an anti-Semitic supporter of Trump.
A man stood up in a Baltimore theater and started yelling "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump." It’s amazing how even Trump supporters are making the connection between Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump, yet the @GOP is STILL in denial that it has become the white nationalist party of America.
— Ryan Knight ☘️ (@ProudResister) November 15, 2018
This is where we are in the era of Trump. He fans hatred daily. We must all be vigilant to be the voice of light right now.
Man shouts 'Heil Hitler, Heil Trump' during intermission of Baltimore performance of 'Fiddler on the Roof' https://t.co/jkfU4Zs4oF
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) November 15, 2018
The Plot Against America; https://t.co/9Aki8g5GI9
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) November 15, 2018
Another one of Donald's deplorables. https://t.co/t2pYOcZyrK
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) November 16, 2018
We as a nation cannot coexist with such rampant antisemitism.
We as a people cannot thrive while there are those who fear religious persecution.
— Ryan Deitsch (@Ryan_Deitsch) November 15, 2018
Man shouts "Heil Hitler. Heil Trump!" All you need to know about the state of the nation. https://t.co/7bvsd9GU6j
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) November 15, 2018
"This post initially described the man as a ‘Trump supporter' due to his praise of the president, but according to new reports, the man was actually very drunk and inspired to shout ‘Heil Trump' because of his hatred for the president," the correction read.