Jewish man in Sacramento said he was beaten by Palestinian

The Associated Press
Saturday April 13, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Sheriff’s and FBI officials here are investigating a possible hate crime after a Jewish man said he was beaten by two attackers, one who claimed to support Palestine, officials said. 

Erech Olsen, 23, was walking his dog at a Sacramento park about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when he noticed a man wearing a headdress, or kaffiyeh, following him. Olsen, who was wearing a yarmulke, stopped and asked the man what he wanted. 

Olsen said the man asked him if he supported Israel and he told him yes. The man then replied that he supported Palestine and pulled out an electric stun gun, Olsen told authorities. 

The two men struggled over the weapon, which Olsen said he threw to the ground and broke with his foot. A second man then joined the struggle and both beat Olsen, he said, and yelled at him about innocent Palestinian children being killed. 

Resident Maureen Ferguson said she told the men to stop and said the men took the yarmulke from Olsen’s head and threw it on the ground. 

After more yelling, the two men got in a blue van and drove off, Ferguson said. Olsen suffered bruises and a sprained elbow in the attack, Sgt. James Lewis said, adding that deputies did not find the stun gun. 

Olsen said he had been verbally attacked before. 

“There’s a lot of politically and religiously motivated crime here,” he told The Sacramento Bee. “It’s really disgusting that people can use their political beliefs, and twist it, use it for their own purpose and harm innocent people. It makes me sick in my stomach.”