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Man accused of assault, burning Israeli flag during El Cerrito protest arrested

Hate crime investigation launched after protester attacked during ceasefire rally in El Cerrito
Hate crime investigation launched after protester attacked during ceasefire rally in El Cerrito 03:35

EL CERRITO – A man suspected of attacking a woman and burning her Israeli flag during a Gaza ceasefire protest in El Cerrito last month was arrested on multiple charges, police said Wednesday.

According to the El Cerrito Police Department, 36-year-old Christopher Husary of Hayward was arrested around 7 a.m. in connection with the incident, which took place during a march on Jan. 6 from Albany to El Cerrito.

Officers said at the time that about 100 ceasefire protesters took over the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson Boulevard for about an hour, while a group of counter-protesters holding Israeli flags stood on the sidewalk.

During the protest, police said a male protester pushed a woman to the ground from behind. He then took the woman's Israel flag from her hands by force, then burned the flag in the street.

Police said the woman suffered a minor injury.

"I was very shaken. I'm still shaken by it," one of the Jewish counter-protestors told CBS News Bay Area on Jan. 8. The woman requested to remain anonymous.

"They rushed over to us, again, blocking us, and they started to grab our flags and our signs," she recalled.

Following the protest, El Cerrito police said the incident was being investigated as a hate crime.

"The El Cerrito Police Department supports the constitutional rights of all people to freedom of speech and assembly. However, when these acts become criminal, they will be thoroughly investigated and presented to the District Attorney's Office for review and prosecution when appropriate," the department said in a statement following the incident.  

Photos of man suspected of attacking a woman during a ceasefire protest in El Cerrito on January 6, 2024. El Cerrito Police Department

Officers also released photos of the suspect, which showed a man wearing a keffiyeh scarf, using a camera and carrying a black backpack. Police credited the public in helping them to identify the suspect and to make an arrest.

Husary was booked into the Martinez Detention Facility on one count of robbery, one count of grand theft and one count of arson.

According to jail records, Husary is being held on $115,000 bail. It was not immediately known when he would appear in court.

Police said Wednesday that the investigation will be forwarded to the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office with a request for prosecution.

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