Stabbing of Palestinian-American in Texas meets standard of hate crime, police say

Bert James Baker, 36 (Austin Police Department)
Bert James Baker, 36 (Austin Police Department)

The stabbing of a Palestinian-American man in Texas meets the definition for a hate crime, police said.

The incident occurred on Sunday, when Zacharia Doar, 23, was riding in a truck with three friends after a pro-Palestine protest near the University of Texas at Austin. Attached to the truck was a flagpole, from which they’d hung a keffiyeh scarf with “Free Palestine” written on it.

Bert James Baker, 36, rode up to the vehicle on a bike, opened the doors, and began shouting racial slurs at them, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by the Associated Press.

According to a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Mr Baker pulled Mr Doar out of the truck and physically attacked him. The three other passengers then got out and tried to subdue Mr Baker, who then allegedly stabbed Mr Doar in the rib.

Mr Doar was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, and is recovering from surgery.

Mr Baker was arrested and has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He reportedly told police he was an alcoholic and had been drunker than usual at the time.

On Wednesday, the Austin Police Department said they had reviewed the case and determined it met the criteria for a hate crime. They’ve communicated the information to the district attorney’s office, which will make the final decision if the case should be tried as a hate crime.

Mr Doar and his wife recently had a baby, his father, Nizar Doar, said in a press conference Tuesday.

“The first thing that came to mind is, I’m going to lose my son,” he said. “I was thinking, how am I going to tell them that I failed to protect my son?”