WASHINGTON (JTA) — A man who was beaten at a supermarket in a Washington, DC, suburb says his attacker used antisemitic epithets and was encouraged by others who invoked Kanye West, the antisemitic celebrity.
The police in Montgomery County, Maryland, said in a press release that the victim said he had approached a group of people tossing fruit at other customers and stealing doughnuts last week at a Giant supermarket in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and rebuked them.
“I went up to one of them and I said, ‘There are people starving in Ukraine and yet you are having a food fight and you know what you just did right there, you know what it’s called? It’s called elder abuse,'” the victim, who declined to provide his name, told NBC’s Washington affiliate. “They started yelling obscenities at me, saying… ‘Fight him, fight him!'”
“I unzipped my jacket and prepared to defend myself, and that’s when he saw my Star of David and said, ‘Let’s go, Jew,'” the victim said.
The man was quickly overpowered by the suspects. His glasses fell off after he sustained a first punch and he subsequently lost his vision as his attackers pinned him down and repeatedly struck him.
“They ganged up on me and they said, ‘Get him for Kanye.’ And I had one person sitting on my legs, two people covering my torso, and one person covering my head and upper shoulders,” the victim told NBC.
Now known as Ye, West, a billionaire rapper and designer, last year embarked on a spree of public antisemitism that caused his past praise for Adolf Hitler to be revealed. His name has become a rallying cry for extremist trolls.
The Montgomery County victim was hospitalized with a concussion and a broken nose.
Police arrested one of the suspects, 19-year-old Eugene Thompson, who was found at a McDonald’s nearby with the victim’s keys in his possession. Thompson was being held without bail on assault and robbery charges. Police said they are investigating whether to add hate crime charges.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington has offered up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those responsible for several recent incidents of antisemitic vandalism and graffiti incidences in Montgomery County.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.