Authorities in New York City are looking for a pair of suspects accused of physically attacking an international tourist this week.
According to the New York Post, 18-year-old Jannich Andersen was touring Manhattan Thursday afternoon when he attempted to board a subway car.
When two men spotted the “Make America Great Again” hat on his head, however, the Danish citizen said they violently intervened.
“He asked if I knew what it symbolized and said I couldn’t leave with the hat,” Andersen said of one of the suspects. “He was clearly offended.”
The ubiquitous red hats have been a divisive fixture in American politics since the 2016 presidential campaign when they became an immediately recognized emblem of support for then-candidate Donald Trump.
Well into his administration’s second year, the political statement can still be controversial. But for Andersen, the accessory holds no partisan significance.
“I bought it for my dad as a joke,” he said. “I don’t know why I decided to wear it.”
The tourist said he picked up the hat in New York and planned to take it back home. Instead, he’ll be taking back a cautionary tale.
Andersen acknowledged that he “didn’t think some people would take it so far” as to threaten a tourist for wearing the hat. He said the men approached with a knife and began harassing him.
“I tried to walk away and then he followed me and grabbed it again,” Andersen said, explaining that for a moment he and the alleged assailant were both holding the hat.
At about that point, he said one of his friends pointed out the knife in the hand of one of the suspects.
“I began to shake and as I heard the word ‘knife’ I let the hat go,” he said.
While the ordeal has not completely turned him off to the idea of a future visit to New York, he said he will always keep in mind the experience of this trip.
If he comes back, Andersen said it will not be “with that kind of headwear ever again.”
Though clearly distressing, he told the New York Daily News that the harassment he received from the suspects was in no way indicative of the general treatment he received while touring the city.
“I’m a little shocked,” he said. “Until then I had a very good experience.”
While he said he understands others might be offended, Andersen said he cannot rationalize someone thinking “it’s OK to stab someone over a hat.”
Police are looking for the suspects described by the alleged victim. According to the New York Police Department, one man is believed to be a 6-foot-tall white man in his 20s or 30s. He was last seen wearing a baseball cap, brown jacket and dark pants.
A police sketch reflects that the suspect is largely bald with closely trimmed facial hair.
The other suspect was also described as a white male, though additional details were not available.
Authorities are asking anyone with possibly relevant information to contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-577-TIPS in English or 1-888-57-PISTA in Spanish.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.