Texas stabbing of Palestinian American labeled a hate crime by police

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  • The stabbing of Zacharia Doar, a 23-year-old Palestinian American, near the University of Texas is considered a hate crime.
  • Bert James Baker, 36, reportedly went to Doar’s truck, yelled racial slurs and physically assaulted Doar before stabbing him.
  • Baker was arrested for the attack and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

The harassment of a 23-year-old Palestinian American who says he was attacked near the University of Texas campus while riding in a truck expressing support for Palestine deserves a hate crime label, Austin police announced Wednesday. .

Bert James Baker, 36, was arrested after Sunday night’s attack on hospitalized Zacharia Doar. Baker was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police said on Wednesday that their Hate Crime Review Committee had decided that the stabbing met the definition of a hate crime. They have given that information to prosecutors, who will make the final decision whether to increase the crime.

The Travis County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday that it is currently receiving the evidence from police and “looks forward to working with them.” “

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Doar was one of four Muslim Americans in the truck, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which said Baker was trying to tear down a flagpole wearing a keffiyeh scarf reading “Free Palestine” their vehicle. CAIR said the four had previously attended an anti-Palestinian protest.

Bert James Baker

This security photo shows Bert James Baker, 36, who was arrested after attacking Zacharia Doar, who was in hospital. Baker was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police said on February 7, 2024, that their Hate Crime Review Committee had determined that the stabbing met the definition of a hate crime. (Austin Police Department via AP)

An affidavit said Baker, who was riding a bicycle, rode up to Doar’s truck and three others rode in, opened the tailgate and doors and yelled racial slurs at them. The group got out of the truck and approached Baker, who hit Doar in the shoulders, the affidavit said. A fight ensued, with Baker eventually pulling out a knife and stabbing Doar in the rib, the affidavit said.

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When police interviewed Baker, he said he was intoxicated and had more to drink that day than usual, the affidavit said.

Baker was being held in jail Thursday on $100,000 bond. Jail records did not list an attorney for him.

Threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities across the US increased during the Israel-Hamas war. Israel attacked Gaza following an October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

In Vermont in November, three college students of Palestinian descent were killed and seriously injured while taking an afternoon walk in an attack that authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime. . In October, an Illinois landowner was charged with stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy and wounding his mother. He was charged with a hate crime after police and relatives said he named the victims because of their religion.

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