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Attorney For Sword-Slashing Suspect In 'MAGA' Hat Claims Client 'Was Unfairly Targeted'

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The attorney for a man accused of slashing the hand of another man with a sword after the victim pulled off his "Make American Great Again" hat in San Francisco said Tuesday that his client was unfairly targeted for wearing the hat.

During his arraignment Tuesday morning, Leor Bergland, 30, pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, mayhem and assault for the March 29 stabbing.

The attack occurred in the city's Fillmore District, near Fillmore and Oak streets, after a 27-year-old Berkeley man spotted Bergland wearing the red hat, made famous by Donald Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. The man then swatted Bergland's hat off his head, according to police.

Bergland then allegedly pulled out a sword, stabbing the man's hand, partially severing it, police said. The victim suffered life-threatening injuries.

Although the victim and a witness tried to chase Bergland, he was able to get away until police arrested him five days later in the Tenderloin.

Outside of court Tuesday, Bergland's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Steve Olmo, said his client had been "minding his own business" before the incident took place.

"I'm tired of this so-called liberal, political area having acts of violence against people who have different views. I don't agree with what Trump does, but look at what's happened over at Cal with conservative speakers speaking," Olmo said, refereeing to violent confrontations that have taken place at the University of California at Berkeley over the last couple of years between alt-right supporters and far-left supporters.

"This was all triggered because he was wearing a hat?" he said.

According to Olmo, the victim in the case had flipped off Bergland and also assaulted him with the hat prior to the stabbing.

"You have a right to be walking down the street with your views ... It's outrageous and I'm just tired of it in this area. I'm tired of people not allowing the expression of other people," he said.

Bergland remains in custody with bail set at $250,000, according to jail records.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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