(SAN FRANCISCO) — A California woman — a worker with the state’s Corrections Department — is under investigation after being filmed while allegedly attacking a group of Muslim men as they prayed in a San Francisco Bay-area park, authorities said.
One of the alleged victims filmed the incident, which happened in Lake Chabot Regional Park on Sunday, four days after the San Bernardino shooting.
The woman, identified by the park district as Denise Slader, “engaged them in some kind of conversation” that led to her using disparaging language about the men’s Muslim beliefs, according to Carolyn Jones, the spokeswoman for the East Bay Regional Park District Police Department.
One of the men in the group, Rasheed Albeshari, told ABC station KABC-TV that when he responded saying that they respect Jesus, the woman became visibly upset. Albeshari took video of her, and according to KABC-TV she can be heard saying: “Your mind has been taken over, brainwashed. And you have nothing but hate, nothing but hate.”
Slader allegedly hit one of the men with an umbrella and threw a cup of coffee at him, Jones said. After that, parks workers separated them, she said.
Slader did not respond to ABC News’ calls for comment.
A spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed that Slader has worked for them as a program technician for approximately 10 years.
“We expect all of our employees to treat everyone with dignity and respect both on and off the job,” CDCR spokesman Luis Patino told ABC News in a statement. “In addition to the police investigation, an internal CDCR investigation into the incident is ongoing. We cannot comment on the specifics of that investigation, however, discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.”
Jones said that the park district recommended that she be charged with a misdemeanor battery but the District Attorney must determine any charges. Assistant District Attorney Teresa Drenick told ABC News that “additional investigation was necessary” and Jones confirmed that the police are continuing their investigation into the incident.
Jones said that police have met with Slader since the incident and “she definitely sees herself as the victim in all this.” Jones noted that it is legal to both pray and film in the park.
“Everyone at the park district is appalled by this incident,” Jones said.
This is not the first alleged religious-based incident reported in the wake of the recent terror attacks in San Bernardino and Paris.
A mosque in Philadelphia had extra police patrols added after a severed pig’s head was found outside on Monday.
Late last month, a mosque in Texas was vandalized and it received national attention after a local child donated the contents of his piggy bank to help pay for the clean-up.
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