Man pleads not guilty to hate crimes charges following Castro incident

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday June 7, 2023
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A man has pleaded not guilty to hate crimes and other charges stemming from a June 5 incident in the Castro. Photo: Scott Wazlowski
A man has pleaded not guilty to hate crimes and other charges stemming from a June 5 incident in the Castro. Photo: Scott Wazlowski

A man who pleaded not guilty to Castro-area hate crimes made a statement during his arraignment at San Francisco Superior Court Wednesday, explaining that "what the LGBT community is doing to kids is disrespectful to everyone who stands for God."

It took awhile for Muhammed Abdullah, 20, to get to Department 10 at the Hall of Justice at 850 Bryant Street — a San Francisco sheriff's deputy was overheard by a reporter saying he was "in the tank screaming" for some time before he was called before Judge Victor M. Hwang.

The San Francisco Police Department announced his arrest earlier Wednesday afternoon. Abdullah was detained Monday afternoon at 18th and Church streets, near Mission Dolores Park, and booked into the county jail on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of committing a hate crime, and resisting arrest.

Abdullah also pleaded not guilty to charges of misdemeanor battery, violation of a person's civil rights, and petty theft, the DA's office stated June 8.

The deadly weapon in this case was a "glass object" that Abdullah allegedly threw at a 40-year-old male victim in the vicinity of 18th and Hartford streets just before noon June 5, according to police. He'd been following the man and a 58-year-old victim "aggressively shouting anti-LGBTQ language," police stated in the news release.

"These kinds of attacks are unacceptable," Police Chief William Scott, a straight ally, stated. "It's especially troubling that this incident took place as we celebrate Pride Month in San Francisco. Anyone who threatens or harms someone based on being a member of the LGBTQ community will be held accountable."

The office of San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins did not initially return a request for comment. However, the June 8 she released a statement via news release.

"San Francisco is a safe haven for LGBTQ people," Jenkins stated. "Our city is proud of our diversity and for being an open and welcoming beacon to all people, especially those who have been marginalized elsewhere. Hate crimes that seek to demean and otherize people because of who they are, what they look like, or who they love are unacceptable and will be prosecuted."

If Abdullah is found guilty on all charges, he faces over 10 years in prison.

In the courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Jamal Anderson claimed Abdullah was "targeting members of the LGBTQ community and yelled homophobic slurs."

Deputy Public Defender Tehanita Taylor said in this case "there was no direct threat" to life, and Abdullah's speech was "sarcastic."

"He's fairly young, only 20 years old, and doesn't have a lot of family," Taylor said. "He has some religious principles he was socialized in."

Anderson disagreed about the threat question, saying Abdullah had said "kill the gays," to which the defendant laughed when it was repeated in court.

Hwang said he would not rule on Abdullah's release at the arraignment, but if he were to be released, the judge would issue a protective order to stay away from some locations and individuals. Abdullah remains in custody in San Francisco County Jail.

Anderson said that Abdullah may be implicated in tearing down a Pride flag at a nearby store, and attacking people "at some kind of street fair near the Castro ... clearly indicating a targeted attack on this community."

The next hearing in the case will be at 9 a.m. June 21 in Department 12 at the Hall of Justice.

When being escorted out of the court, Abdullah asked if he could make a statement. Hwang said that would be appropriate at a later time, but Abdullah spoke nonetheless, saying the LGBTQ community is "against God," whether one is "Christian, Jewish or Muslim."

"The LGBT community is going against families," he said, adding that it's "so fucked up" and "you know the truth."

The public defender's office did not return a message asking if Abdullah would be willing to speak to a reporter.

SFPD stated that while an arrest has been made, the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD. You may remain anonymous.

Updated, 6/8/23: This article has been updated with additional misdemeanor charges the defendant faces and a statement from DA Jenkins.

The State of California offers help for victims or witnesses to a hate crime or hate incident. This resource is supported in whole or in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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