ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. - A Castro Valley woman is under investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for misdemeanor assault and possible hate crime charged stemming from an incident on Sunday in Lake Chabot Regional Park in Castro Valley.
Video posted to the Facebook page of Rasheed Albashari shows Denise Slader confronting Albashari and two other Muslims as they prayed in the park, calling their Allah "the devil" and saying the men are "brainwashed".
"I wanted to tell them about Christ," Slader said speaking to KTVU. "And that what they've been doing, what they believe in, their Allah that he was praying to right there in the park, in the open, is not not of God. It's the devil!"
When asked why the men shouldn't have the freedom to practice whatever religion they choose, Slader replied, "And believe me, they are. And they're doing it openly in the middle of the park."
"We're not sure why this escalated into something ugly like this," said East Bay Regional Parks spokeswoman Carolyn Jones. "It's totally unacceptable, especially given right now the state the country is in and tensions being high."
A park ranger can be seen on the video as Slader takes a swing in the direction of the camera.
"The self defense part of me as a human being kicked in and I hit the camera, not him, with my umbrella," Slader said.
"He was saying all these words to me in his language, which i didn't understand, very hateful, and that's when a ranger came in," Slader told KTVU.
"I think if she didn't come in he probably would have hit me, and so i threw my coffee in his face."
The encounter happened around 3 p.m. Sunday at the volleyball courts near the park's entrance, according to parks spokeswoman Carolyn Jones.
The men were praying and the woman got into a conversation about religion that escalated into an argument. Jones said the victims described the woman saying things like "Your God is Satan" and "the Koran is evil."
The men began recording the incident in a video that has since gone viral on social media.
#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..
Slader works for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Wednesday afternoon the department released a statement reading, in part,
"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. In addition to the police investigation, an internal CDCR investigation into the incident is ongoing."
Regional Parks points out it is legal for people of all faiths to pray in the parks.
"This is a time to be nice to each other," Jones said. "Not fight each other over religion."