Minnesota Woman Brutally Assaulted For Speaking Swahili In Applebee’s

A GoFundMe.com page, set up to help defray the medical expenses of the victim, identified as Asma Jama, had surpassed $9,500 by late Friday.

A GoFundMe.com page, set up to help defray the medical expenses of the victim, identified as Asma Jama, had surpassed $9,500 by late Friday.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for hate-crime charges against a woman accused of hitting another woman with a beer mug because she was speaking a language other than English at a Coon Rapids Applebee’s.

Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch, 43, of Ramsey was charged with third-degree assault Monday in Anoka County District Court.

“The current charge is insufficient to communicate the seriousness of and possible bias motive for the alleged attack,” CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said in a Friday news release.

Criminal division chief Paul Young of the Anoka County attorney’s office told the Associated Press on Friday that prosecutors are still working on the case, waiting for medical reports and could file additional or enhanced charges.

Burchard-Risch and her husband were at the restaurant Oct. 30 when they got upset over hearing someone speaking a foreign language in the next booth, according to the criminal complaint. Restaurant managers tried to get Burchard-Risch to leave, but she refused and instead yelled and threw her drink at the woman speaking the foreign tongue.

Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch (Photo courtesy Anoka County sheriff's office)

Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch (Photo courtesy Anoka County sheriff’s office)

“Defendant then smashed her beer mug across (the woman’s) face in a ’round house punch’ motion and fled,” an investigator wrote in the complaint.

One of the restaurant managers followed Burchard-Risch until she was arrested by Coon Rapids police.

The woman who was struck had deep cuts on her nose, eyebrow and lower lip, according to responding officers.

A GoFundMe page created Thursday to raise $5,000 toward the victim’s medical bills had surpassed $9,500 by late Friday.

“We have been overwhelmed with the support,” wrote Hassanen Mohamed, a friend of the victim who set up the page. “We are honored and this here is what makes this country, the greatest in the world!”

According to Mohamed, the victim was at a table with friends and children when she was assaulted, and her injuries required 15 stitches.

CAIR-MN said in its statement that the woman, identified as “Asma” on the GoFundMe page, grew up in Kenya and was speaking Swahili before she was assaulted.

Minnesota Public Radio interviewed the woman, Asma Jama, an ethnic Somali who speaks English, Somali and Swahili. She came to Minnesota from Kenya in 2000.

In the MPR interview, Jama said that she told Burchard-Risch before she was hit: “I’m home. I can speak English, but we choose to speak whatever language we want.”

She also told MPR that she’s traumatized by the Applebee’s incident.

“I’m actually thinking about moving out of Minnesota,” she said. “I’m scared for my life. I don’t feel comfortable here anymore.”

 

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