FRANKLIN (Somerset) — A 19-year-old township resident has been accused of attacking an 81-year-old grocery shopper for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.
Ryan M. Salvagno, of the Somerset section of the township, was arrested and low-level charges of assault and harassment were filed in Franklin Township Municipal Court. Salvagno is scheduled for arraignment on March 14 on the charges.
The incident happened Monday just before 3:30 p.m. at the ShopRite of Somerset on Elizabeth Avenue. The victim had paid for groceries and was exiting the store when he was confronted by a man later identified as Salvagno.
According to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson, the duo argued over the elder man's red hat. When the victim tried to leave, Salvagno grabbed the hat and a struggle broke out.
Police said Salvagno then took the victim by the arm and threw him to the ground, tipping over the man's cart of groceries and throwing the hat aside.
New Jersey 101.5 could not find a working phone number for Salvagno on Wednesday and did not know if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
The MAGA caps were popularized by President Donald Trump during his first campaign for president. Versions of the hats are widely available, including for online sale through the White House gift shop.
There have been several high-profile cases of politically-charged confrontations and alleged attacks, involving a person or people wearing them.
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