LOWELL (CBS) – A truck driver arrested for approaching picketing Market Basket workers with a hammer last week claims the protesting employees yelled racial slurs at him before he got out of his truck.

Ira Forbes, 27, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was in Lowell District Court Monday morning facing charges of disorderly conduct and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Related: Market Basket Standoff Continues

On Friday afternoon Forbes, a temporary Market Basket driver, was trying to drive past demonstrators outside of the Market Basket headquarters in Tewksbury.

Forbes driver got out of his truck with something at his side wrapped in a towel. There was an exchange of words between the driver and the demonstrators and when police officers realized that the object in his hand was a hammer they quickly tackled him to the ground.

Demonstrators say the driver never swung the hammer, but he was verbally aggressive toward them.

A defense attorney for Forbes said at his arraignment Monday morning that the driver felt threatened when Market Basket picketers used racial slurs and blocked the truck.

At his arraignment, Forbes was released on personal recognizance.

Forbes, who has been fired, told WBZ he is the victim in the incident.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports

“They were heckling me, calling me names,” said Forbes, who added that “I lost my head.” He said he grabbed the hammer as an instinct to protect himself.

Forbes said he was unaware of the Market Basket dispute and said that had he known about the situation he might not have taken the job.

“I’m not angry. I understand people’s frustration,” Forbes said. “They’re out of work. People got families to support. They got kids.”

Forbes said his company told him Market Basket had gone under.



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