Avrumi Friedman shares his thoughts about the anti semitism he experienced at Costco on 12/9
5TC has received this letter that has been written directly from the victim himself:
Updated – 8:00 AM [12/10]:
So many things have transpired and so many thoughts floated through my head since last night. Let me start off by letting you all know that the perp has been arrested and is in the custody of the NCPD. He will be arraigned in the morning. A big shout out and thanks to the wonderful detective who took this case on and was really the consummate professional, taking our statements and following through on the arrest and pressing charges. I appreciate all of the support I have received since posting the video.
The most important lesson learned during this ordeal is “ein lismoch ela b’Avinu shebashamayim.” There is no one to rely on but our Father in Heaven. In the last 30 hours or so my videos and story have been viewed by thousands, shared dozens of times, received hundreds of comments, been published by websites, and misquoted by others. The comments have ranged from supportive, discouraging, to deranged and even anti-semitic.
Among those who commented directly on my posts, I’d like to thank you for sharing your thoughts and contributing to this important conversation. I apologize that I didn’t have time to respond to 99% of the comments, but between learning, davening, work, time at the precinct, and helping the kids with their homework, there was simply no time. I hope to properly convey my appreciation through this post.
The comments on my posts can be put into three very broad and general categories: Those who believe I took the right actions. Those who think I should have ignored it. Those who think I should have done something physical. I truly appreciate all of the support, commending me for the actions taken. There is not much to say, other than, THANK YOU!
I’d like to specifically address the other two categories of comments. I appreciate what was said, giving me much food for thought. Nonetheless, I still strongly believe that what I did was right. For those who think I shouldn’t have “poked a sleeping bear” hear me out. Fully agree, my actions will in no way decrease anti-semitism. No public statements will decrease the hatred in those that hate us. It will continue! What my actions did was send a clear message to the perp and others like him that we will not stand idly by while Jews are verbally abused. Confront them when it’s just words and we are retarding the emboldening into physical assaults. Look at our neighbors in NYC. The mayor there has let things slide and the anti-semites have only become more aggressive and physical. It spills over here and I’m directly confronted with it, I will do the hishtadlus to protect my family and community. Had I ignored him, who knows what he would do in a week from now, or in a year. He will continue to hate, but at least now he’ll think twice before acting on it. Let him hate all he wants as long as it stays in his house.
For those who think my fist should have met his face, stop and think for a minute. What would that have accomplished? A charge of assault and prison time? This guy walking away scot free and perhaps seek revenge because he got away with what he did? Is it seriously worth it? This is before we even discuss that we aren’t violent people who respond to every provocation with physical assault. It’s not who we are and not what we should aspire to be. Could I have knocked him down or disarmed him? Easily. Did I want to? Absolutely not! During the ordeal there was the fear that he would try to hurt me, but my sense of preparedness to deal with it driven by responsibility to family and community drove me to confront him.
I do not recommend that most people do what I did. If you do not have the ability to defend yourself, it’s not worth the risk. What you can do is report events like this to the police, even if it can’t lead to charges. Post information on facebook. Remain vigilant and teach the same to your children.
We live in scary times. It is imperative that we continue davening to Hashem to bring us the Geulah Shelaima B’karov. If you have children, take a minute to go into their rooms now, cover them up and give them a kiss, appreciate what you have and cherish every moment. Stay focused on protecting them and the rest of the community in the proper Jewish way.
5TC has received this letter that has been written directly from the victim himself:
Updated – 6:00 PM [12/9]:
Now that I can finally sit down, I will try to write out what transpired at the Lawrence Costco today and share some of my thoughts and reflections. Some of the quotes may not be verbatim, as I did not write down notes at the moment. Getting back to my family was of greater import at that time than transcribing the exact words used. Let me just share a disclaimer here, that I have the utmost respect for our men and women in blue and always make a point of stopping any officer in the street to thank them for their service. Here we go…
I was in the Men’s Room in Costco when a man walked out of one of the stalls. He said, “[expletive] Jew, the Nazis will finish you off.” I turned around to see who had said that. I quickly followed him out of the bathroom, taking out my phone to get him on video to share on Social Media, outing this bigot while demonstrating that there is this type of bigotry, even here at “home” in the Five Towns.
As you saw in the video, at first he tried to deny it. I pressed him by saying, “say it to my face.” To indicate that I had no desire to get physical, I kept my left hand down at my side while holding up the phone with my right hand. After a few times of my telling him to “say it to my face,” he went on the rant you saw in the video. In the video you will notice there is a Hispanic woman in black clothing at the counter, I found out later that she is his mother. Behind me were a number of people standing in line, white and African-American. No reaction from anyone, other than one elderly African-American gentleman who was shaking his head in disgust.
During the rant, you can see that he threatens me with physical harm and lunged at me twice. I just moved back at each attempt, as I was not interested in a physical altercation. I went to the managers counter and shared the video with two of the managers. One of them, David, asked me to step behind the counter as the assailant was following me. When the assailant walked back towards the food court, David followed him.
I went back to my wife and son, who were shopping, blissfully unaware of what had happened. I proceeded to send the videos to a group chat on Whatsapp, where a lawyer friend of mine said that it constitutes a hate crime, which should be reported to the police. I informed my wife, and headed toward the exit of the store to call the police.
Wanting to be courteous to David and Costco, I went back to him to inform him that I’d be calling the police. David shared that he was going to go over to the food counter to get his membership number and then inform the fellow that his membership will be cancelled and will never be welcome in a Costco again. The assailant walked away when he saw David, so David followed him outside. As he passed the return line, the assailant told another Jew, “I’m going out to get my gun and will come back to shoot you up.” David then proceeded to call the police, all the while following him to his car. David took the license plate number, providing it to the police.
After calling the police to file a report and share the video, a rather pleasant police office arrived. I showed him the video and shared all the above. He said that there isn’t much he can do. I responded, “he clearly threatened physical harm, and besides, a lawyer friend told me this constitutes a hate crime. I’d like to file a report.”
I could not believe what he told me next. “Once you followed him out of the bathroom, you became the aggressor.” Right then another officer showed up. The first officer told me to repeat the story to the second officer, which I proceeded to do. The second officer said, “what you did wasn’t so smart. Clearly this guy is mentally ill and you were provoking him.” He then went on to theorize to the first officer what what medication he may be on (risperidone being his number one choice). The first officer then told me he would pass it on at the squad and maybe a detective would take on the case. I reminded him that the assailant had made a very clear threat to another person, witnessed by David. He went inside the store to interview David. At this point I went back inside to my wife and son, while uploading the video to facebook. In the past six hours or so there were 5k views, with hundreds of shares, comments and reactions. At about 10:15pm I received a notice from Facebook that they removed the post for violating their “Community Standards.”
Now for some thoughts and reflections. I am exhausted and had a long day, so I will share more tomorrow. But for the time being, I would like to address the issue of the police, as the police in general do not deserve to be maligned to any extent based on the actions of the officers that responded today. Any man or woman who puts on that uniform, swearing to protect us with their very own lives, deserves nothing but our utmost respect. I strongly believe that the current political climate we live in has brought about the actions of the police today. A Jew being verbally attacked does not fit the narrative that the current local government, both in Nassau County and NYC, want painted. There is much commentary on that, which I do not have the stamina to type up now. We shall return to that later. In my humble opinion, the upper echelons and political figures may not be overtly saying it, but the message is being given that threats to Jews are not to be taken seriously.
*UPDATE* The officer gave it to the detectives. They called me down to the station. They apologized profusely for what was told to me and are writing a report now. Additionally, the second male who was accosted by the perp reached out to me and called the precinct. The cops are really amazing people. More updates to follow.