SAN JOSE, Calif. - A Muslim group is condemning a man who slashed pro-Palestinian banners hung over a freeway in San Jose.
Zahra Billoo, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, shared a video on Wednesday of a man taking a knife from his pocket and slashing a banner hanging over a freeway on Dec. 10.
The video also shows the man walking across the street and slashing a second banner with the word Gaza on it, before putting that one in his truck.
Meanwhile, he's exchanging words with an unknown CAIR volunteer, whom he calls a "terrorist" at one point.
The exact words on the banners aren't shown, but in her statement, Billoo said they support the Palestinian cause. Billoo did not say exactly where this interaction took place, but she did call on San Jose police to investigate the action as a hate crime.
Neither man – the videographer nor the banner slasher – touch each other in the video. But they do yell.
The banner slasher said he was a "defender of freedom." He tells the videographer: "You murder and rape babies."
The videographer yells: "You have no right to do that," in reference to the man destroying the banner with his knife.
"We are appalled by the brazen assault and vandalism targeting advocates exercising their right to express support for Palestine," Billoo said in a statement. "This incident is not only an attack on individuals but also an affront to our country’s principles of free speech."
San Jose police said they are investigating the incident.
"There is zero tolerance for hate, and hate crimes in San José," Police Chief Anthony Mata said in a statement. "All hate incidents are treated with the utmost seriousness and will be given priority attention."
Tensions across the globe have escalated since Hamas terrorists kidnapped and killed Israelis on Oct. 7, and Israel responded with deadly air- and ground-strikes, killing nearly 19,000 Palestinians so far.
Conversely, many posters of Israeli hostages have also been torn down across the world and Bay Area.