Authorities in California’s Orange County are recommending hate crime charges against a woman who was allegedly dressed as a Nazi SS officer and is alleged to have yelled antisemitic comments at a man who tried to get her to remove her swastika armband.
According to a photo taken by a member of the public, the woman was dressed in an all-black outfit similar to that of a Nazi SS officer and wearing the armband while walking around outside a community centre in Laguna Woods, Orange County.
A man confronted the woman, who allegedly responded with antisemitic comments. According to a spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, a “physical altercation” ensued as several people – including a man in his 80s – tried to remove the woman’s armband. Police attended the incident.
Subsequently, the district attorney’s office was asked to recommend that charges against the woman should include hate crime.
The following day, the Mayor of Laguna Woods, Carol Moore, released a statement saying that the city was outraged by the incident. “The city of Laguna Woods stands firmly against antisemitism, bigotry and hate in all its forms, fully and without exception,” the statement read, adding that the conduct “alleged in the disturbance” was “abhorrent, inexcusable, and antithetical to the character and values of our community” and that “any delay” in the public response was intended to “allow the investigation to conclude.”
City Councilman Noel Hatch, who said that he had lived in the area for 25 years and had seen “no indication that there is anything like this brewing,” described it as “a solo act” that was “not germane to any concern” that there was “something brewing here in Laguna Woods village.”
The incident came a month after antisemitic fliers were distributed in the Orange County districts of Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and Cypress. A report released in 2021 by the Orange County Human Relations Commission found that, in 2020, hate crimes in the county increased by 35%.
Image credit: ADL