Anthony DerlunasThose who attended the performance of Fiddler On The Roof at Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre on Wednesday, November 14, found themselves startled by one audience member's outburst.
During the intermission of the iconic musical, which tells the story of a Jewish family's struggle to hold onto their traditions and customs despite outside influences in 1905 Russia, Anthony Derlunas shouted "Heil Hitler, Heil Trump!" from his balcony seat. Audience patron Rich Scherr caught Derlunas being escorted out of the theater by police on video and shared it to Twitter, making it viral.
With such an incident taking place mere weeks following a shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the audience was initially terrified.
"People started running," Scherr told the Baltimore Sun. "I'll be honest, I was waiting to hear a gunshot."
The terror was met with outrage when it was later discovered that Derlunas, whose identity had not yet been revealed to the public at that time, was not arrested for what many saw as, essentially, an act of terror by promoting anti-Semitic hate speech at a production of Fiddler On The Roof. But the most shocking revelation was when Derlunas later claimed to be an opposer of President Donald Trump.
Derlunas claims that the play's plot involving a Jewish village facing hatred from Czarist Russia reminded him of President Trump. Having had a few too many that night combined with his politically-fueled anger impulsed him to shout out the now infamous quote as a comparison between the president and Adolf Hitler.
"I was trying to compare Trump to Hitler because he plays into the fears of people and it just came out wrong," Derlunas told Baltimore news station WLAB. "In the moment, it was just my frustration. I don't know what I was thinking."
Derlunas appeared mortified when making a tearful apology at his front doorstep in the above video. However, you would not know this from watching the video because he is so embarrassed by his behavior that night as he refused to be seen on camera.
"I realize now how it came off and how it scared those people. I'm so sorry," he said. "I just want everybody to know I am sincerely sorry. I opened my mouth and it was so wrong, and I know that now. I am so ashamed. My heart goes out... to everybody that was affected by my stupidity."
Derlunas has faced many damaging repercussions following the incident, including banishment from the Hippodrome for life, which he understands ("I would ban me too if I was in their position," he told the Baltimore Sun). Yet, he still continues his attempts to make amends, having gone as far as reaching out to local Jewish community groups to express his regret.
But what do you think about his apology? Has he done enough to earn forgiveness for the pain his drunken actions have caused? Or is a deeper investigation into his true intentions worth taking? Let us know in the comments below!