The woman, identified as 48-year-old Hadasa Bozakkaravani, was taken into custody on Tuesday. The New York Police Department (NYPD) has charged her with four counts of hate crime, along with assault, assault of a person under 11, reckless endangerment, aggravated harassment, and menacing.
The incident occurred on November 7 in Fort Greene, exactly one month after a brutal attack by Hamas terrorists on Israelis. The video of the incident went viral, leading to Bozakkaravani's arrest nearly two weeks later.
The victim, Ashish Prashar, a 40-year-old Indian American, was at the Edmonds Playground on Dekalb Avenue with his 18-month-old son when the incident occurred. Prashar, who was wearing a keffiyeh, a traditional black-and-white Arab scarf, told CBS News that Bozakkaravani started hurling Islamophobic abuse at him. "She told me several times that I didn’t belong here," Prashar said, adding that she also called him a terrorist.
According to Prashar, the woman seemed to be provoked by his son's attempts to interact with her own child. He recalled her yelling, "You and your son get away." Prashar, a writer and activist who has been a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, said he received the Arab scarf as a gift from a Christian Palestinian more than a decade ago while working in the West Bank.
Prashar, who is of Punjabi descent and was born in London, said he was holding his son in his arms when Bozakkaravani attacked them. He believes that his quick thinking saved his son from being burned by the hot coffee. He managed to put his son down and shield him with his legs during the confrontation.
When a bystander intervened, Bozakkaravani grabbed her child and left the scene. Prashar sustained some scrapes and bruises from being hit in the face, but his son was unharmed.
Reflecting on the incident, Prashar said, "This is post-9/11 again. Like every brown person now is a target. We’ve been completely dehumanized by our president and our institutions."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the attack. "These bigoted attacks must stop," said Afaf Nasher, executive director of CAIR’s New York chapter.
Bozakkaravani pleaded not guilty to all nine charges against her and was released on her own recognizance, according to NBC News. She is scheduled to appear in court again on January 24.