A civil rights group has called for hate crime charges to be filed against a suspect accused of stabbing a young man in Texas after the alleged victim had attended a demonstration in support of Palestine nearby.
Bert James Baker, 36, was arrested by Austin police on Sunday night on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Baker allegedly attacked a 23-year-old man and three other Muslims as they drove home from a demonstration where protesters reportedly demanded a ceasefire in Gaza and denounced Israel’s war against Hamas as genocide.
The alleged stabbing victim—who has not been named by authorities—underwent a successful surgery and is now recovering at the hospital, their father told CAIR.
The organization said in a press release that the four Muslim men were driving home when a white male cyclist—allegedly later identified as Baker—tried to “rip a flagpole with a Palestinian keffiyeh scarf reading ‘Free Palestine’ off of their car.” The alleged victims told CAIR that Baker shouted racial slurs and pulled one of the group from the car and physically attacked him.
The other three then got out of the vehicle and tried to fight off their assailant. “After Baker appeared to be subdued, he allegedly pulled out a knife and stabbed one of the young men in the chest, breaking one of his ribs,” CAIR claimed. The organization said the victim nevertheless was able to subdue Baker, who was arrested when law enforcement arrived.
“This apparent act of hate in Austin appears to be the latest incident of hate motivated by the rise in anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia,” CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement. “From the murder of six-year-old Wadea [Al-Fayoume] outside Chicago to the shooting of three college students in Burlington, Vermont, far too many incidents of violence against Muslims, Palestinians and others who support Palestinian human rights have occurred over the past several months.”