A female employee of the California Department of Corrections is being investigated after she was caught on video making anti-Muslim comments and later hurling coffee and an umbrella at a group of Muslim men who had been praying at a Castro Valley park. In the video, Denise Slader is seen saying that "Allah is evil" before launching herself onto one of the men filming her.
Park police have recommended misdemeanor battery charges against Slader, NBC Bay Area reported. East Bay Regional Park District spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said that the woman had not been arrested, but that the district's police are sending their investigation and recommendation to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office. Jones said that prosecutors will then decide whether to charge Slader.
"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 incident was caught on video and posted on 6 December on Facebook by Rasheed Albeshari. Albeshari had been praying with his friends, Jones said, when the group was verbally attacked by Slader.
"After praying, this lady approached us and started yelling at us that we're brainwashed for believing in Allah. 'Allah is evil,' she said," Albeshari wrote in his Facebook page for his video that has over 70,000 views at publishing time. "Your mind has been taken over, brainwashed. You have nothing but hate," Slader says spitefully. A park ranger is then seen approaching Slader and attempting to tell her that what she is doing is "inappropriate."
Albeshari tells the park ranger that "this lady is talking about my God." Slader can then be seen getting irritated that she is being filmed, so she lunges towards Albeshari, throwing her coffee and umbrella at him. Albeshari is heard saying someone should call the police as the video becomes jumbled.
According to NBC Bay Area, Slader stood by her comments in the video, adding that Islam teaches its followers to rape and murder. She claimed she was "surrounded" by eight Muslim men and hit one of them because it was "instinctual." Jones said that Slader went to the police headquarters to hand in a business card and employee ID and add to her statement that she believes she is the victim because she was videotaped.
Department of Corrections spokesman Luis Patino said that Slader has worked for 10 years in an administrative capacity within the Division of Adult Parole Operations as a programme technician. Patino said that her employment status had not been changed. He added 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."
Albeshari told SF Gate that he never expected such an incident to happen in California but said the Bay Area was his home. "This is where I live and I'm going to stay here, I'm going nowhere, because I love this place, even though this lady tried to make a hateful place but she failed," he said. He added that he has received messages and calls of support since posting the video. "It's just amazing how Americans are. It's overwhelming to see all that support."