Victims of S.F. pizza punchfest claim anti-Semitic attack

A pair of young San Franciscans beaten unconscious last month outside a pizza parlor say they were the victims of an unprovoked anti-Semitic assault.

The two men, both 23-year-old Stanford alums, say they only wanted a slice of pizza to top off an evening of late-night revelry. But they got much more than they ordered.

The pair claim Andrew Crawford, 24, and an unidentified companion walked into the Pizza Pino restaurant in the Marina District and began making loud, anti-Semitic statements for all to hear. When one of the victims identified himself as a Jew and noted he did not appreciate the comments, Crawford allegedly threw a shaker of Parmesan cheese at him.

Crawford and his companion were soon ordered out of the restaurant, and when the victims later left, a melee ensued. Several more of Crawford’s supposed acquaintances materialized, and the victims were quickly overwhelmed.

“I remember being on the ground trying to cover my head and face as the kicks were coming from all directions,” said one of the attacked men, an investment banker.

The other victim, a financial analyst who is not Jewish, said, “Once I went down on the ground, I pretty much just woke up in the ambulance. I have no idea why they would have wanted to do this. Nothing Josh or I can recall warrants any kind of attack.”

Crawford, who was charged with aggravated assault, will be arraigned Wednesday, Dec. 7. He could not be reached for comment.

The victims contacted the Anti-Defamation League this month. Tami Holzman, the ADL’s assistant regional director, said the attack reeks of “old anti-Semitism.”

“It makes it hard to sleep at night hearing about a case like this,” she said.

The pair were left bloodied and unconscious on the city streets following the Oct. 15 early-morning attack. The beatings were serious enough that both men’s recollections of the evening are hazy, and much of their memories have been pieced back together via conversations with eyewitnesses. Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, police have declined to release the arrest report or the identities of the eyewitnesses.

However, j. obtained a sworn statement made by a pizzeria employee backing up much of the victims’ account.

From the statement:

• “One of the standing guys made an insulting comment about Jews and said, ‘I’m anti-Semitic’ to the red-haired and brown-haired young men. He then threw Parmesan cheese from a container onto the brown-haired young man.”

• “At first I thought the men must know each other and were engaging in horseplay. But then I realized that it was more serious and I asked the guys who made the remark about Jews” to leave.

• “I saw one of the guys who threw the Parmesan cheese hit the brown-haired man in the face. I did not see the red-haired or brown-haired man throw any punches … I have never seen a fight like this. It was very savage. The red-haired man and the brown-haired man were defenseless.”

As the violence escalated, a nearby police officer was informed of the beatings. As he pulled up, most of the attackers scattered, but Crawford was arrested on the scene.

The victims both received multiple bruises and lacerations to the head and face, requiring staples and stitches. One of them suffered additional dental injuries from repeated kicks.

While the case is not being handled by the San Francisco Police Department’s hate crimes division, the district attorney is looking into classifying the attack as a hate crime.

Both men are back at work. 

“It’s unsettling to know there are people out there like the people who did this to us,” said one of them.

“Prior to this, I’d heard about things like this, but you assume it will never happen to you and that things have been improving. It’s upsetting to know it’s still a prevalent problem in the city we live in.”

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.