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CAIR-SFBA Welcomes Hate Crimes Charges for Anti-Muslim Attack; Urges Community Vigilance

CAIR logo(SANTA CLARA, CA. – 12/17/2015) – The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFBA) today welcomed hate crimes charges brought against the suspect involved in an attack on one of several Muslim men praying at Lake Chabot earlier this month.

Denise Slader, an employee with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, was charged on Thursday with battery and violating the men’s civil rights. She was captured on cell phone video yelling anti-Muslim epithets, throwing coffee, and striking Rasheed Albeshari with her umbrella.

SEE: DA Charges Woman Who Allegedly Threw Coffee At Muslims Praying in Park With Battery, Violation of Civil Rights

Following the viral video footage and a complaint to the CAIR-SFBA office, CAIR Northern California Civil Rights Coordinator Brice Hamack wrote to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office advocating for hate crime charges.

“We commend law enforcement’s thorough investigation and swift action following this incident,†said CAIR Northern California Civil Rights Coordinator Brice Hamack. “With the recent unprecedented rise in hate attacks targeting Muslims across the nation, this sends the message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in the Bay Area.â€Â 

CAIR-SFBA has been receiving increased reports of hate incidents against Muslims across the Bay Area in recent weeks. In light of these reports, CAIR-SFBA is advising the American Muslim community to take all threats seriously and ensure that local law enforcement authorities are contacted in a timely manner. CAIR-SFBA is urging community members to be extra vigilant and take precautionary safety measures.

Recommended Community Safety Steps

Prior to any event or gathering:

* Instruct staff and volunteers to be vigilant about their surroundings.

* Immediately report any threatening or hostile phone calls or messages to local police. Where possible, obtain a name and phone number for the caller. If you are speaking to the caller, do not engage in a debate or become angry; you do not want to escalate the situation. Keep a detailed log of hate calls.

* Contact your local police department and ask them to increase patrols in the area of your facility.

* Remember, for a fee, many local police departments will provide officers to be present at a facility during services.

* Contact a local CAIR chapter to report any incidents: http://www.cair.com/cair-chapters.html

* Record details of any bias incidents by filling out a report here.

Community leaders are being asked to implement safety measures outlined inCAIR booklet, “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” which was published in response to previous attacks on American mosques.

The booklet is designed to be used by mosque officials, Muslim school administrators and other community leaders and activists who seek to identify and eliminate vulnerabilities to bias-motivated attacks.

A free copy of CAIR's “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety,” may be requested by going to: http://www.cair.com/mosque-safety-guide.html

CAIR’s safety guide states in part:

“A general framework in which to think about institutional security falls within the following broad categories:

• Be Aware

• Assess Your Vulnerability

• Prepare and Plan

• Prevent

• Respond/Mitigate

• Recover

“This framework can be applied to all sorts of security issues, from hate graffiti to burglary or to an active-shooter episode. Decision-makers must decide which recommendations are best applied to their facility. They must also decide the order in which they will implement the process.â€

Other initial safety steps recommended in CAIR’s guide include:

• Develop a Legal Contact List

• Develop a list of attorneys who are willing to be consulted by the Muslim community in response to backlash incidents. Ask Muslim attorneys to volunteer their services to community members during this time of crisis.

• Develop Positive Relationships with Law Enforcement Agencies

•  Community leaders should, in cooperation with local civil rights advocates and attorneys, immediately coordinate meetings between representatives of the Muslim community and local and state law enforcement agencies. These meetings should focus on ways in which the community can help improve security and on how authorities can protect Muslims, Arab-Americans and other targeted minorities from harassment and discrimination.

• Meet with Elected Officials to Discuss Community Concerns: Delegations of Muslim representatives should schedule meetings with local, state and national elected representatives or their key staff to discuss community concerns.

• Build Coalitions with Interfaith and Minority Groups: Meetings should be coordinated with representatives of local interfaith and minority groups. These meetings should focus on building lines of communication and support, and hearing from these groups how they deal with discrimination and bigotry.

• Meet with Local School Officials to Discuss Student Safety: Representatives of the Muslim community should meet with local school and school board officials to discuss safety plans for students and to sensitize the administrators to harassment of Muslim students.

• Build an Emergency Contact List: Community leaders should develop emergency email, text message and phone contact lists to be used in case of an incident that threatens the community’s safety. Local imams, Islamic center board members and Muslim activists should be on the lists. A second list should be developed containing contact information for all local law enforcement agencies.

• Hold a Community Meeting to Inform Others of Safety Guidelines: Call for a meeting of the local Muslim community to discuss the information outlined in this kit. The meeting should take place at a local mosque or Islamic center and should be advertised using the emergency contact list.

• Establish a Community Support Network: Establish a network of community members who can offer emotional and material support to those who may be the victims of hate crimes or discrimination. Victims should not be left alone to deal with the negative impact of such incidents.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR Northern California Civil Rights Coordinator Brice Hamack, 408.986.9874, bhamack@cair.com; CAIR-SFBA Executive Director Zahra Billoo, 626.252.0885, zbilloo@cair.com 

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