NEW YORK >> A grocery store worker on Staten Island was arrested Sunday after smacking Rudy Giuliani on the back while the former mayor campaigned on behalf of his son, a Republican candidate for governor, according to police and Giuliani.
In a brief interview, Giuliani said he was walking through a ShopRite grocery store in the Charleston neighborhood with supporters when the employee disparaged him, slapped his back, then made an apparent reference to abortion.
“The one thing he said that was political was ‘You’re going to kill women, you’re going to kill women,’ ” said Giuliani, who said he understood the remark to be about the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade on Friday.
The initial account shared by police did not mention abortion but said an unnamed 39-year-old man had slapped Giuliani in the mid-back while saying, “What’s up, scumbag?”
The man was taken into custody. Police were still investigating, and it was not immediately clear what, if any, charges the man could face.
Surveillance video of the incident later published by The New York Post shows a person who appears to be a ShopRite employee approach Giuliani, briefly take an open hand to his back, stop to address the former mayor and move on. Giuliani looks startled but does not appear physically shaken.
The grocery store chain said in a statement that it was aware of the incident and that the company had “zero tolerance for aggression toward anyone.”
Giuliani, a Republican who recently served as Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has had a long and conflicted relationship with abortion rights — first opposing them, then supporting them, then reversing himself again.
Earlier Sunday, he said on his radio program that he had gone through “a torturous, intellectual, and emotional and moral situation with abortion” before ultimately concluding that he opposed it.
Giuliani is under intense scrutiny for his role in Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which culminated in a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. In the interview, he denounced political violence.
“This has to stop. This is getting ridiculous,” he said later Sunday afternoon. “I’ve been in politics 50 years, I’ve never been attacked like this.”
Giuliani said he had red marks on his back but was not bleeding and had remained on his feet after being struck. He had been planning to hand out flyers for his son, Andrew, before Tuesday’s Republican primary for governor. The younger Giuliani was not on hand.
“My back hurts, but otherwise, I’m able to walk and stuff like that,” the former mayor said. “He almost knocked me down. Thank God, for a 78-year-old, I am in pretty good shape.”
Andrew Giuliani referred to the incident in a statement as an “assault” and said that he and his father would “not be intimidated by left-wing attacks.”
Giuliani said the man in question ought to be charged on the same principle that animated “my broken windows theory” of policing.
“If you don’t stop it at this stage, it just gets worse and worse and worse,” he said.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.