A man in Vero Beach, Florida, was sentenced to 90 days in jail Thursday for spitting on a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hat in October.
“Judge David Morgan accepted a no-contest plea Thursday and determined Matthias Ajple, 43, was guilty of battery on 67-year-old Robert Youngblood,” according to Treasure Coast News.
Surveillance footage taken from inside the Hurricane Grill & Wings restaurant showed Youngblood sitting at the bar with two other men when Ajple, a registered Democrat, walked by and slapped a napkin on his hat.
The victim said Ajple told him to “go back to Russia, you f— communist,” then walked outside the building. Moments later, Ajple leaned over the fence behind Youngblood and spat at him.
Following the incident, Youngblood wrote down Ajple’s license plate number and deputies were able to track him down at his home.
Once they arrived, Ajple’s wife told the officers it was her who instructed him to tell the victim to “go back to Russia.”
When police arrested Ajple, he reportedly said, “I was just trying to protect you guys because I support law enforcement. Trump supporters are communist and racist.”
“I don’t even care that I’m going to jail; this is actually exciting,” he continued. “Plus, I have more time on this earth than he does anyway; he probably feels so good about himself.”
Prior to the initial incident, Youngblood had undergone three cancer surgeries on his head and had 17 stitches in his neck, which caused him to worry that Ajple’s saliva would cause an infection.
“He spit all over me,” the victim said in court, adding, “And only because he didn’t like what was on my hat: ‘Make America Great Again.'”
Judge Morgan called the attack “despicable” and said it bothered him that Ajple wanted to punish Youngblood for exercising his right to free speech.
It was cowardly. In our culture … to spit on somebody indicates a feeling of superiority, of disdain, and then you ran. We see this all over the country, but not in this community. (As you said earlier), it puts Vero Beach in a bad light. It’s not the way we live. It’s not the way we handle our neighbors. We’re not going to have it as a problem here.
In addition to his jail sentence, Ajple was ordered to report to supervised probation within 72 hours of his release.
Judge Morgan also ordered him to pay Youngblood $115 for a new dress shirt and an extra $40 to buy himself a new MAGA hat.