Applebee's Attack Victim Considering Leaving Minnesota

| by Zara Zhi
Asma Jama.Asma Jama.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is calling for hate crime charges for a woman who allegedly hit another woman with a beer mug when she heard her speaking a foreign language at an Applebee’s restaurant.

Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch and her husband were at the Coon Rapids Applebee’s on Oct. 30  when they became infuriated after hearing a woman speak a foreign language in the booth next to them, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Restaurant supervisors reportedly tried to make Burchard-Risch leave, but she refused and instead began shouting and flung her drink at the victim.

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

One of the restaurant supervisors tailed Burchard-Risch until she was detained by Coon Rapids police.

According to the officers, the victim had deep wounds on her nose, eyebrow and her lower lip.

Burchard-Risch was indicted with third-degree assault Nov. 2 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 press release on Nov. 6.

Paul Young, the criminal division chief of the Anoka County Attorney’s Office, told The Associated Press on Nov. 6 that prosecutors are still waiting on the medical reports and could potentially file extra or heightened charges.

CAIR-MN said in its report that the victim — Asma Jama — grew up in Kenya and was speaking Swahili before she was attacked, reports Pioneer Press.

A GoFundMe page created on Nov. 5 to raise $5,000 toward the Jama’s medical bills had exceeded $9,500 by late the next day.   

"We have been overwhelmed with the support," wrote Hassanen Mohamed, who created the page. "We are honored and this here is what makes this country, the greatest in the world!"

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, Jama, an ethnic Somali who speaks English, Somali and Swahili, confirmed that she came to Minnesota from Kenya in 2000.

She said the couple told them to "go home" and that "when you're in America you should speak English."

Before she was assaulted, Jama told the assailant: "I'm home. I can speak English, but we choose to speak whatever language we want."

She also told MPR she is so disturbed by the event that she is contemplating moving out of state.  

"I'm actually thinking about moving out of Minnesota," Jama said. "I'm scared for my life. I don't feel comfortable here anymore."

She said she might join her sister, who left Minnesota for Dallas in June. Before leaving, Jama’s sister asked her to come with her to Texas.

Sources: MPR, St. Paul Pioneer Press, GoFundMe  / Photo credit: Asma Jama via MPR