N.Y. woman charged with hate crimes in hot coffee attack on father, toddler

Click to play video: 'Woman seen throwing phone, coffee at man and his young son in park in Brooklyn'
Woman seen throwing phone, coffee at man and his young son in park in Brooklyn
WARNING: Video contains content which some viewers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised – Nov 23, 2023

A woman from New York City has been charged with hate crimes and assault after a video went viral showing her allegedly throwing her phone and hurling a hot coffee onto a man and his 18-month-old son.

The incident occurred at Edmonds Playground in Brooklyn, while 40-year-old Ashish Prashar was wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional Arabic scarf.

Prashar is not Palestinian — he is of Punjabi descent — but has been outspoken in his support of Palestinian rights and a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. (The keffiyeh is often worn at pro-Palestinian rallies as a show of solidarity.)

Prashar told CNN the incident started after his young son approached another boy on the basketball court at the playground, which angered the other boy’s mother and she started yelling.

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The 40-year-old political strategist pulled out his phone to film the interaction. His video captures the moment the woman hurls her phone at him, followed by a takeout coffee cup.

“You and your son get away,” the woman can be heard yelling.

Prashar wrote on Instagram that the woman called him and his son “terrorists” and “dogs.”

“She said that we don’t belong here and that we should leave the park. She went on to say that ‘your people burn babies and I hope your baby burns in an oven,'” he wrote.

Prashar added he was holding his young son at the time, and if he hadn’t put him down, the hot coffee might have burned the 18-month-old’s face. He also told NBC New York that he worries about the social climate in New York right now, as the Israel-Hamas conflict rages on.

“This is post-9/11 again,” Prashar said. “Every brown person now is a target. We’ve been completely dehumanized by our president and our institutions.

“No parent should feel unsafe to take their child to a playground because someone decides you are less than human.”

In an Instagram post Prashar wrote: “I know why she attacked me. She attacked me for both the color of my skin and the keffiyeh.”

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The incident at the playground happened on Nov. 7. Two weeks later, the woman in question turned herself in to police.

Hadasa Bozakkaravani, 48, was arrested on Nov. 21 and was charged with four hate crimes, as well as assault, menacing, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child. She was arraigned that same day and pleaded not guilty to all 14 charges, according to online court documents.

Bozakkaravani has yet to make a public statement regarding the incident.

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Prashar told ABC 7 in a video interview that he credits community pressure for getting the woman to turn herself in to police.

Community members created posters with images of the woman’s face taken from Prashar’s video and put them up around their Brooklyn neighbourhood asking for people to come forward with information about the suspect.

Prashar says the keffiyeh he was wearing that day was a gift from a decade ago when he was working in the West Bank.

“It was a gift given to me by a Christian-Palestinian,” he told NBC New York.

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Both Muslim and Jewish communities in Canada have been raising awareness of rising incidents of verbal abuse, hate and intimidation since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“We’ve seen an increase of 1,000 per cent of actual incidents of Islamophobia that have come in from across the country,” said Uthman Quick, director of communications at the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy and rights organization, said they have observed a “great threat assessment increase” against the community in recent days, with incitement at university campuses and on the streets and genocidal slogans targeting Jews at rallies.

— With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz

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