Prosecutors in California filed charges Thursday against Denise Slader, a Department of Corrections employee who was caught on video insulting a group of Muslims praying in a park on Dec. 6.
The Alameda County District Attorney's Office filed two misdemeanor counts against Slader, a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by BuzzFeed News, she was charged with "using force or violence" against Rasheed Albeshari, one of the Muslims present during the incident who posted the video on Facebook. Slader was also charged with threatening and violating Albeshari's constitutional right to freely exercise his religion, the complaint stated.
"We take very seriously conduct that infringes upon our citizens' right to be free of violence and hatred," Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O'Malley said in a statement. "Ms. Slader's actions must be addressed within the criminal justice system."
Albeshari had recorded the Dec. 6 incident and posted the video to Facebook.
#Islamophobia After praying, this lady approached us and started yelling at us that we're brainwashed for believing in Allah, "Allah is evil" she said. I started video taping her, I ,also, was hit by an umbrella before taking a shower of coffee right on my face. And what happened next was this.
The incident occurred when a group of Muslim friends were praying near the volleyball courts at the Lake Chabot Regional Park, public information officer Carolyn Jones told BuzzFeed News.
In the video, Slader is heard saying, "The people you tortured are going to be in eternity in heaven. You are very deceived by Satan. Your mind has been taken over...brainwashed. And you have nothing but hate. Nothing but hate."
A park ranger is then seen telling Slader, "This is really inappropriate."
Slader responds, "It is inappropriate for somebody to tape-record me."
Albesahri is heard saying, "This woman was talking about my God."
Slader is heard saying "Get out" while striking Albeshari.
According to Jones, Slader saw the friends praying in the park and said something to her friend about them.
"One of the [Muslim] men then tried to engage her in a conversation about religion and it quickly turned hostile," Jones said.
Slader allegedly yelled insults, including "The Quran is evil," "Your God is Satan," and "Allah is Satan."
When one of the group's members started to record her, Slader hit him with an umbrella and threw a cup of coffee on him, Jones said.
A police officer took statements from all parties, but did not cite or arrest the woman, as he did not witness the incident, Jones said.
The police have sent an incident report to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office to review for possible charges of misdemeanor battery or a hate crime, according to Jones.
A spokesperson for the district attorney's office told BuzzFeed News that she could not comment on possible charges since the report had not yet been brought to the charging deputy.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed that Slader is a 10-year employee who works as a program technician.
"CDCR 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," the statement continued. "In addition to the police investigation, an internal CDCR investigation into the incident is ongoing."
No change had been registered in Slader's employment status, an agency spokesperson said.
Albeshari, who moved from North Carolina to California in 2011, told the Arab American News that he never thought something like that could happen to him.
"That's one of the main reasons why we love the Bay Area," Albeshari said. "It's people from all around the planet. I never thought this would ever happen to me here. It's a very uncomfortable feeling."
Albeshari did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
Jones said the park was very popular and is in a "very diverse area."
"There are mosques, churches, and temples. People are extremely tolerant and this is very unusual occurrence," she said.
The incident is the latest in a series of anti-Muslim acts reported across the country in the wake of November's Paris attacks that killed 130 people.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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