hate on LI

Arrest follows confrontation at Lawrence Costco


A Jamaica, Queens man has been charged with aggravated harassment second-degree and menacing third-degree for an anti-Semitic encounter inside Costco on Rockaway Turnpike in North Lawrence on Sunday.

Nassau police said the suspect yelled religious slurs and threatened violence against Rabbi Avrumi Fridman, 37, a 34-year-old man and an 11-year-old child.

Fridman said the incident started in the men’s room, when the man in the video walked out of a stall and allegedly said, “The Nazis will finish you off.” Fridman followed the man out of the bathroom and began to record, saying, “Say it to my face,” which can be heard in the video.

“In the restroom, he began shouting racial slurs at me,” said Fridman, who spoke about the incident at Town of Hempstead Town Hall on Monday, alongside Councilman Bruce Blakeman. “Outside of the restroom, he lunged towards me while I just kept stepping back. There was some fear in my mind, but the drive to protect my community and family helped overcome the fears.”

Fridman recorded video of the incident, which helped police in the subsequent investigation that led to the arrest.

“I urge all the people of the county that if you see someone being harrassed, step up and say something,” Fridman said. “If nothing is being done, these bigots will become more bold in their actions.”

Blakeman called Fridman a hero for taking a video of the incident. “He took the video courageously,” Blakeman said. “He wanted to make sure he documented what happen so that person could be brought to justice and not do harm to others.”

“I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors that lost their relatives at the hands of the Nazis,” Fridman said. “I must lament that in 2019, I find it unsettling that an identifiable Jewish-American can not feel safe shopping in their local Costco.”

As Fridman was filming, the suspect shouted, “the Nazis wanna [] kill you,” lunging towards Fridman, threatening him and suggesting he was a coward for not fighting him in middle of the store.

On the tape, the suspect can be heard saying, “I’ll pull out the gun and smack the [] outta you.”
On Facebook, Fridman reflected:

“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. … We live in scary times. It is imperative that we continue davening to Hashem to bring us the Geulah Shelaima B’karol.”

“I do not recommend that most people do what I did,” he said. “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.”

When police first responded to Costco, Fridman said he showed one of the officers the video and explained what happened. Fridman claims the officer told him, “Once you followed him out of the bathroom, you became the aggressor.”

Fridman said that later that day, he received a call from a detective who apologized for the officers’ statements.