Thursday morning, actor and artist Shia Labeouf was arrested outside his art installation at the Museum of Moving Image in New York City after he barely assaulted an apparent Hitler supporter. This incident coincides with the vehement social media debate currently underway regarding whether it is okay to assault Nazis.
Shia was standing near his interactive exhibit, when the Hitler supporter called him over seemingly to take a selfie. When Shia went over to him, the Hitler support says to Shia: "Hitler did nothing wrong." At that point, Shia can be seen pushing the man away. The man called police, alleging that Shia pulled his scarf and scratched his face, though the video shows Shia trying to push himself away from the Hitler supporter.
Is Pushing Really Illegal?
Yes. Pushing someone is actually illegal. In fact, any form of unwanted touching, if it is intended to cause harm, generally is considered illegal. While incidental touching, like what happens when people are crammed together on a bus, may be unwanted, it is not illegal unless someone is intentionally groping or harassing.
Shia was arrested, but simply cited and released. He is expected to appear in court on April 4, 2017 to face charges for assault and harassment. However, due to the scant footage and facts available at this time, the charges may not materialize, or may be dropped.
Shia's Interactive Exhibit Sparks Debate
Shia set up an interactive exhibit outside the Museum of Moving Images that asks visitors to repeat the mantra "He will not divide us" into a camera. The camera records the visitors and continuously plays back the mantra 24/7. The mantra is in reference to Donald Trump being elected president and the political division that has come about as a result. Shia is hoping to keep the exhibit going during Trump's entire presidency as a form of protest and as a way to remind people to remain united as a nation.