Of all the disgraceful acts committed by St. Louis area cops after the murder of Michael Brown, one of the most reprehensible was the arrest of 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein. Hedy was peacefully protesting Darren Wilson’s senseless slaughter of Brown when suddenly, for no apparent reason, she was handcuffed by police. Did the cops really think that an unarmed 90-year-old woman presented a threat to them? Did they suspect her of domestic terrorism? What exactly were the cops thinking? Hedy says they never told her why she was arrested.
The incident evoked powerfully painful memories for Hedy. Born and raised in Germany, she recalls the Nazi reign of terror in the 1930s directed at Jewish families like hers. Her father was arrested on Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, when SS officers and Nazi sympathizers rampaged through the streets, ransacking and demolishing Jewish homes and businesses on November 9, 1938. The sound of shattering glass gave the nefarious night its shameful name. Much like the Gestapo, St. Louis-area cops unlawfully terrorized and accosted innocent citizens. The parallel incidents, separated by 75 years and 6,000 miles, reverberated in Hedy’s consciousness. But unlike then, when as a small child she was forced to endure the death of her father in Dachau, today she is fighting back. She has hired a lawyer and will demand justice in a St. Louis courtroom. Her protest itself was an act of defiance and hope. She is fighting against the same fascist tactics which devastated her childhood.
The “good” citizens of St. Louis have responded to Hedy’s bravery by sending her hate mail. That’s right, the same right-wing radicals who have donated half a million dollars to killer-cop Darren Wilson have filled her inbox with anti-Semitic rants and vile threats. To be fair, Hedy says she has also received notes of praise and encouragement. But it makes one wonder how, in 2014, so many decades after the Holocaust, there are still so many demented and depraved individuals running around in America, where they are free to spew hate and give violent vent to their uncontained rage.