The NYPD are asking for the public’s help identifying a woman, who allegedly accosted a Brooklyn dad and his 18-month-old son at a playground on Nov. 7, throwing her cellphone and a cup of hot coffee at them and allegedly asking if they were “terrorists.”
The NYPD confirmed to PEOPLE the investigation was ongoing.
The 40-year-old victim, who has been revealed to be Ashish Prashar, was wearing a black and white Palestinian scarf known as a keffiyeh at the time. He filmed the incident, later posting it to social media. It is still unknown if anything prompted the incident, but Prashar can be heard saying “I’m wearing a scarf and apparently I’m getting attacked because I’m a terrorist.”
An unseen witness can be overheard saying, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
According to a statement released by the NYPD, it was reported to police that “On Monday, November 7, 2023, at approximately 12:30, the 40-year-old-male victim was in Edmonds Playground, in the vicinity of 196 DeKalb Avenue, when he was approached by an unknown female who allegedly made anti-Islamic statements.
The unknown female proceeded to throw her cellphone along with a hot cup of coffee at him. The victim was not injured during this incident.”
The playground is connected to public Middle School 113 Ronald Edmonds Learning Center, and two other elementary schools are also co-located in the building. None of those children were known to have witnessed the event, though hate crime posters were seen on lamp posts and trees surrounding the playground in the following days.
Prashar later asked supporters on Instagram to let the NYPD do their job, instead of trying to track down the perpetrator on the Internet.
“Don’t take this in your own hands,” he wrote. “We have never asked for that and we do not want that. This is not vigilante justice. The only way forward is to have the detectives do their job.”
According to the New York Times, hate crimes are on the rise in the city, with a 200% rise in anti-semitic crimes since the Hamas-Israel war broke out. Of the 101 bias incidents in the city last month, 69 of them were directed at the Jewish community.
A local Brooklyn parent told PEOPLE, “It’s sad that any of this is happening. This corner of the world has always felt like a safe space for people of all backgrounds to cohabitate peacefully. Hatred against others because of their beliefs or backgrounds really goes against everything we teach our kids around here. We won’t let one incident stop us from encouraging love for one another.”
The Times also wrote that “earlier in the week, New York lawmakers introduced a bill expanding the range of offenses that can be prosecuted as hate crimes and closing loopholes in existing laws. The legislation responds to what State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal called “an unprecedented rise in bias-motivated crimes against Jewish, Muslim, Asian American and L.G.B.T.Q. people.””
The individual at large in the playground attack is described as a female, with a light complexion and small build. She was last seen wearing a black and white baseball hat, black sunglasses, gray scarf, black zip-up jacket, black fanny pack, black sweatpants, and white sneakers.
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Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/, on Twitter @NYPDTips.