Muslim Advocacy Group 'Shocked' by Release of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Muslims - NBC Bay Area
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Muslim Advocacy Group 'Shocked' by Release of Man Who Allegedly Threatened Muslims

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A man accused of threatening to kill Muslims in Richmond is out on bail. His release is sending a new wave of fear through the community. Jean Elle reports. (Published Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015)

    A Muslim advocacy group raised concerns Thursday about the release on bail of a man charged with making deadly threats to Richmond's Muslim community.

    Members of the Islamic Center of West Contra Costa County claim William Celli stood outside their mosque and yelled he was going to "Kill you all." This comes after Celli, 55, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge of making a criminal threat with a hate crime enhancement as well as a charge that he attempted to violate the free exercise of civil rights, Deputy District Attorney Derek Butts said.

    Celli was arrested on Sunday after a search warrant at his Richmond home allegedly yielded the discovery of a possible explosive. Police say they found an inactive pipe bomb in his possession.

    Police were following up on a tip that Celli threatened the community's Muslims.

    Officials with the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Celli faces "serious allegations of targeting a religious minority with violence."

    Executive Director Zahra Billoo said they were "shocked" to learn that Celli was released on bail Wednesday night.

    "Such a quick and easy release only serves to create the perception that the legal consequences faced by alleged terrorists are determined by their faith and ethnicity," Billoo said in a statement.

    The group wants increased security at its mosques and buildings, and says Celli should face federal charges.

    Richmond Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles Thursday said, "the threats made against our neighbors is not what our city and country is about."

    Beckles is helping organize an event Thursday in support of the city's Muslim community. It's hoped to bring people together to decorate a mosque door at the Islamic Center of West Contra Costa County with messages of support.

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