36-year-old Christopher Khamis Victor Husary is in jail for allegedly stealing two counterprotesters’ Israeli flags and setting one of them on fire at a January El Cerrito protest, and now faces arson, grand theft, robbery, and hate crime charges.

It is bound to invite some unflattering comparisons if you schedule a protest on the infamous date of January 6. But there was a pro-Palestine protest on that date this year in El Cerrito (seen below), and according to a release from the El Cerrito Police Department, the demonstrators “took over the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and Carlson Boulevard for over an hour.” Meanwhile, several counterprotesters stood on the sidewalk and waved Israeli flags.


And that was literally a combustible combination. The department added in an updated release two days later that “A male protester pushed a woman down to the ground from behind, causing a minor injury, and took her Israel flag from her hands by force.” The release added that “He then burned the flag in the street,” and the department said they were investigating this as a hate crime.

One of those counterprotesters spoke with KPIX in the segment above. "I was very shaken. I'm still shaken by it," she told the station. "They rushed over to us, again, blocking us, and they started to grab our flags and our signs."


Now according to the Bay Area News Group, police arrested 36-year-old Christopher Khamis Victor Husary of Hayward on February 28. And last week, Contra Costa County prosecutors charged Husary with arson, grand theft, robbery, and a hate crime enhancement. The charging document alleges Husary took two counterprotesters’ Israeli flags.

“While the First Amendment is fundamental to our democracy, it doesn’t protect threats, injury, intimidation, or property damage,” the county’s DA Diana Becton said in a statement. “Moreover, when such actions stem from biases related to race, gender, religion, ancestry, or national origin, they become hate crimes."

Husary remains in custody at the Martinez Detention Facility, with bond set at $250,000 bond.

Related: Anti-Jewish Graffiti Appears on Market Street Following Pro-Palestinian March [SFNews]

Image: El Cerrito Police Department