A Queens man was arrested after unleashing an anti-Semitic tirade on a rabbi shopping in a Long Island Costco on Sunday. Avrumi Fri captured the rant on video. In it, a young man with a chinbeard and bleach-blond hair informs Fri: "the Nazis are gonna fucking kill you."
Fri says the man — who has since been identified as Justin Pichizaca, 20 — first approached him in the bathroom on Sunday. "[Expletive] Jew, the Nazis will finish you off!" Pichizaca reportedly said, prompting Fri to follow him out into the store with his cellphone camera rolling. After Fri invited the man to "say it to my face," he launched into a screed liberally peppered with racial slurs and threats of physical violence.
In a detailed Facebook post, Fri wrote that his wife and son were shopping in another section of the Lawrence, NY store while all this unfolded, and that he subsequently brought the video to the store's managers. When Fri told them he wanted to call the police, one of those managers went after Pichizaca, who headed for the door. On his way out of the Costco, Pichizaca allegedly told another Jewish customer, "I'm going out to get my gun and will come back to shoot you up."
The manager followed the man out to the parking lot, taking down his license plate number when he drove off, according to Fri. But when the police arrived, Fri contends, they were markedly less helpful. "I showed him the video and shared all the above," Fri wrote in his post. "He [the officer] 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," he continued. "'Once you followed him out of the bathroom, you became the aggressor.'"
A second officer who arrived on the scene reportedly placed blame on Fri as well. According to his Facebook post, the other cop told him: "What you did wasn't so smart. Clearly this guy is mentally ill and you were provoking him." Ultimately, the pair said they'd pass the case to a detective, and Fri posted the video to Facebook — where he says it racked up thousands of views before the platform removed it, citing a violation of their community standards.
"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," Fri wrote. "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."
In the end, though, the officers did hand over the report to a detective, who called Fri later that day and "apologized profusely," he said. The Nassau County Police Department subsequently arrested Pichizaca and charged him with second-degree aggravated harassment and third-degree menacing for, allegedly, "threaten[ing] 2 males ... and an 11-year-old child with physical violence and ... religious slurs," according to a statement from the department.