Woman speaks out in Emeryville hate crime case

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday October 24, 2023
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Beth Rosales filed a police report after a former neighbor at her senior living complex allegedly removed a Pride display from the common area. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
Beth Rosales filed a police report after a former neighbor at her senior living complex allegedly removed a Pride display from the common area. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland

A woman who is a resident at a senior housing facility in Emeryville is speaking out after her former neighbor allegedly removed a Pride-themed display in June. Meanwhile, the man has been charged with hate crime vandalism and is set for a diversion hearing in Alameda County Superior Court.

Ayman Badr, 64, has been charged with one count of vandalism under $400 and another of "violation of civil rights." He is alleged by Beth Rosales, a former neighbor at the Avalon Senior Housing community in Emeryville, to have torn down a Pride display in June after making a homophobic rant.

Badr, who is not in custody, professed that his reputation has been unfairly tarnished by media coverage of the case. He had a hearing October 24 in the courtroom of Judge Armando Pastran Jr. in Department 108 at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in downtown Oakland.

Alameda County Deputy Public Defender Omid Khalilnaji represented Badr, and prosecutor Jason Quinn represented the district attorney's office. Khalilnaji requested that the matter be set for diversion. Pastran offered November 1 in Department 106, to which Badr and Khalilnaji agreed.

(The Alameda County District Attorney's office had told the B.A.R. and Rosales that October 24 was Badr's arraignment date; Khalilnaji told the B.A.R. October 24 that Badr "has had a number of court dates" thus far. The DA's office has not returned a request for comment for this report.)

Outside the courtroom, the B.A.R. asked Badr if he had a comment.

"I don't want to talk to you," he said. "You published information that's unfair and actually also you published information that's not correct. I will hold you responsible for it. You tarnished my reputation and took one side of the story."

When told this was the opportunity to present his side of the story, Badr responded that the B.A.R. "also hurt other people you mentioned in that article too — not just me." Before departing, Badr did not give a specific example of what was inaccurate in the August 25 report about the charges against him.

That article had stated that the incident had first been reported to Emeryville police June 22 at Avalon Senior Housing. The computer-aided dispatch or CAD, a call narrative search report, stated that "the victim, who's part of a housing committee, placed pro-LGBTQ+ Pride posters in the lobby on behalf of the committee. Without provocation, an aggressive suspect verbally attacked the victim while going on an anti-gay tirade (hate speech). The suspect was interviewed and admitted to ripping down the posters. The theft of the posters was also captured on [closed-circuit television]. The victim indicated she fears for her safety due to the suspect's threatening behavior, and she will be seeking a stay-away order."

Rosales, 71, came forward to the B.A.R. to tell her story in a phone interview Monday, the day prior to the hearing. Rosales said she was married to a woman for 13 years, but is now separated.

"We had just finished putting up Juneteenth [decorations] in our lobby — we are low-income senior housing — and we put up signs for Lunar New Year, Black History Month, women's month, just to decorate our lobby," she said. "We have a diverse culture and residents at Avalon. So we put up Juneteenth and Pride banners, and we had just finished and I was sitting in front of our elevators just casually having a conversation, and Ayman Badr was getting into the elevator with a little small cooking pot."

Rosales said Badr asked what Juneteenth meant.

"I explained it recognizes the end of slavery and he said 'oh, that's good. What's Pride?' and I casually explained 'it's about celebrating, and also about the continuing struggles of, the LGBT community,'" Rosales said. "Before I was finished, he was just filled with absolute rage. He just went ballistic. We were both on the steering committee of the association — he was actually invited to increase the diversity of the steering committee. He said, 'these people are disgusting, exposing their sexual mannerisms in public ... they shouldn't be allowed in our society. They are against my culture and religion.'"

Though he was four to five feet away, Rosales said, Badr was standing and she was sitting, and she was afraid the pot he was holding might fly out of his hand.

"I got up and I said 'Ayman, you are scaring us. You should go into the elevator and go away,'" Rosales said.

The next afternoon, Rosales discovered that the Pride display was gone, though the Juneteenth display was still there. She asked the management of Avalon to look at the surveillance footage.

"There he [Badr] was, dragging the banners out, going around the back of the building and putting it in the trash," Rosales said. "We went to the police department in Emeryville and made a report."

At that point, Rosales decided to stay with family in Los Angeles for a time.

"I don't want to put myself under the rage of this man," she said.

Badr has since been removed from the steering committee and was evicted from the complex.

There's a "zero tolerance policy" there for hate actions, Rosales said. She told the B.A.R. that Badr claimed he put a sign in between the LGBT banners saying that "he only supported heterosexual marriage," and claimed it was torn down.

"He said he tore down the banners because someone tore down his little comment," Rosales said. "Whether or not he put up a note, he didn't have the right to do that."

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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