Park police are recommending misdemeanor battery charges against California Department of Corrections employee who was allegedly caught on video making anti-Islamic slurs, then throwing coffee and an umbrella at a group of Muslim men praying at a Castro Valley park.
East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday that Denise Slader has not been arrested, but the district's police officers are forwarding their investigation, and recommendation, to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. Jones said the incident could be considered a hate crime.
"It is legal to pray in the park, and talk to people in the park," Jones said. "It is not legal to hit people in the park."
The Department of Corrections also said in an email the agency is investigating the allegations.
Slader's actions at Lake Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley were captured on video and posted Sunday on Facebook by Rasheed Albeshari. He had been praying with friends by the park's volleyball court Sunday afternoon, Jones said. [[361282181, C]]
In the video, a woman identified as Slader stands with her purse, umbrella and a cup of coffee, saying Albeshari's "people have tortured" others.
"Your mind has been taken over, brainwashed. You have nothing but hate," she rants.
Albeshari is then heard saying, "This lady is talking about my God." Albeshari wrote on Facebook that the woman said to him, "Allah is evil."
A park ranger can be seen going up to Slader and trying to diffuse the situation, telling her what she is saying is "inappropriate." The woman gets mad about being filmed and lunges toward Albeshari. The video becomes fuzzy, but Slader appears to throw her coffee at Albeshari. Jones said Slader also threw her umbrella at him.
Albeshari then yells, "Do not touch me! Call the cops."
Albeshari titled his Facebook post #Islamophobia, and by Wednesday, his video had been viewed more than 12,000 times.
When reached on Wednesday, Slader reiterated what she said in the video: that Islam teaches its followers to murder and rape. She also told NBC Bay Area she was "surrounded" by eight Muslims and hit one of the men, because it was "instinctual." "Their religion is dangerous, very dangerous, this 'Muslim thing,' " she said.
Jones added that Slader went back to police headquarters this week to give officers her business card and employer ID. She wanted to add to her statement that she believes she is the victim because she was recorded on video in the park, which is a public place.
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Albeshari, however, said he is the one who’s hurt. He said there is no question what happened was a hate crime.
"This lady and the people who think her way are the ISIS of America," Albeshari said, noting that he realized most of his neighbors are not full of such hate. "They're a minority group... They don't represent America."
He told Michigan's Arab American News, the first to report the story, that he grew up in Tennessee but his parents originally are from Yemen. He told the news agency he moved in 2011 from North Carolina to California, believing it was the most "progressive state in the country."
Albeshari has many supporters online.
"From the way she was talking, looks like she was brainwashed," wrote on supporter, Ameer Nasser. "We have to show we (are) better than them with our manners."
One of Albeshari's friends, Yassin Homran, said he wasn't there Sunday but often is. After watching the video, Homran said he was "in shock and was surprised that people had so much hate against Muslims in general because of an action of an extreme minority. Trump and his rhetoric are very dangerous and it's causing peaceful American Muslims to be considered targets for hate crimes. I do not feel safe."
Slader told NBC Bay Area she is a supporter of Donald Trump. And that's of concern to Brice Hamac, a spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations in Santa Clara. Trump's call to ban Muslims from entering the country gave a "lot more people permission to let out their inner animosity for their Muslim neighbors."
Slader has worked for 10 years in an administrative capacity with the Division of Adult Parole Operations as a program technician, according to Department of Corrections spokesman Luis Patino. He added in an email that "all employees are afforded due process. At this time, there is no change in her status."
However, Patino said the agency "expects its employees to abide by a code of conduct that includes respecting the rights of others regardless of personal characteristics including ancestry and religion. In addition to the police investigation, an internal CDCR investigation into the incident is ongoing."
NBC Bay Area's Gonzalo Rojas and Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.