Police have arrested a woman on hate crime charges after she was caught on video throwing a drink and yelling threats and racial epithets at a man and his 18-month-old son at a Brooklyn playground.
Hadasa Karavanibozak, 48, turned herself in at a Brooklyn precinct on Tuesday morning after neighbors plastered the area with photos of her face, police officials said. She was awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn criminal court as of Tuesday afternoon, police officials said.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said Karavanibozak was arrested on four criminal offenses charged as hate crimes: two counts of assault, reckless endangerment and aggravated harassment.
The incident leading up to Karavanibozak’s arrest took place at Edmonds Playground in Fort Greene on the morning of Nov. 7.
Ashish Prashar, who was wearing a traditional Palestinian head scarf known as a keffiyeh around his neck, was watching his young son play with another boy in the basketball court when he said Karavanibozak approached him asking if he supports Hamas.
“I was gobsmacked,” Prashar told Gothamist. “She didn’t care to ask if I was Palestinian or why I wear this scarf. She was violent from the outset.”
Prashar said she then called him and his son terrorists, called Arabs “dogs” and accused Arabs of “burning babies in ovens. ” She added that she hoped the same would happen to Prashar’s son, he said.
That’s when he started filming the woman, who responded by throwing a hot drink at him — a video that quickly went viral after his friend posted it on social media.
Prashar, 40, has lived in New York City for over nine years but was born in the United Kingdom and worked as a press secretary for former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He says he is Punjabi — not Palestinian nor Arab. He learned of Karavanibozak’s arrest from a Gothamist reporter.
Video footage taken by Prashar of the incident shows Karavanibozak, 48, chucking her phone at Prashar, who quickly tucked his son behind him, he said. “He knew something was wrong,” Prashar said of the 18-month-old.
Karavanibozak stopped yelling when a man approached the basketball court, Prashar said, who insisted on walking Prashar and his son home safely. Prashar called the intervention “kismet,” adding that the man a “beautiful soul.”
“I only believe she stopped because of that guy,” Prashar said.
Kenny said on Tuesday that Karavanibozak was working as a nanny for a boy playing with Prashar’s baby in the park that day.
Prashar reported the incident to the NYPD. He says police told him they had a warrant for Karavanibozak’s arrest last Tuesday but no one answered when they knocked on her door.
Prashar said he woke up to 6,000 messages of support on social media after his friend posted the video of the incident.
“I know there will be a day where I’ll have to explain this to [my son],” Prashar said. “I’ll tell him, ‘You are no less human than any other person, and the world is full of love.”