Last year Elie Wiesel, one of the world's most eminent writers and peace activists, was assailed in a San Francisco elevator by a young man, intent on forcing the octogenarian to deny the Holocaust. This week a San Francisco jury found Eric Hunt guilty of a hate crime
felony for his assault of Dr. Wiesel.
In 2007, Eric Hunt had saved up $10,000 to travel cross-country and locate Elie Wiesel
. Hunt had been suffering from mental illness and according to the defense, is bi-polar. He took his chance with Wiesel on February 7th, when he entered an elevator with him, trapped him and then wrenched him out demanding an interview. When Wiesel called out for help, Hunt bolted.
He was charged with 6 separate felonies, including perpetration of a hate crime, abuse of the elderly, and battery. Only the hate crime charge stuck as a felony, while the other two were decreased to misdemeanors. Hunt has already served 18 months, and will probably be released soon thanks to good behavior. His defense maintains that he was simply a confused and mentally ill kid, not the Holocaust denier or racist the prosecution had created.
Dr. Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate who has played a significant role in the recognition of the Holocaust and hate crime prevention, poignantly described the fear he experienced to the courtroom. But, the jury concluded that Hunt had no intentions to kidnap Wiesel, despite the foreman's acknowledgement that his treatment of Mr. Wiesel may not have been particularly "polite."