As NBC is set to mainstream Donald Trump’s bigotry on “Saturday Night Live” in a matter of hours, the horrific beating of an immigrant woman in Minnesota for not speaking English in public is beginning to attract national attention.
Jodie Marie Burchard-Risch, 43, was charged with third-degree assault for an incident that occurred on Oct. 30 at the Applebee’s in Coon Rapids.
According to the criminal complaint, Burchard-Risch was dining with her husband when she became upset after hearing the victim speaking in a foreign language in the neighboring booth.
Authorities say that’s when managers stepped in and tried to get Burchard-Risch to leave.
Charges say she refused, continued to yell at the victim and threw her drink at the woman.
Then she “smashed” her beer mug across the woman’s face in a “round house punch” motion and fled the scene, according to the complaint.
One of the Applebee’s managers followed Burchard-Risch out of the restaurant until she was arrested by responding officers.
The brutal attack left the Somalia-born victim, Asma Mohammed Jama, with deep cuts and gashes that required 15 stitches — all because she felt more comfortable speaking in a language other than English with her own family.
“I live in America. I can speak English but we prefer to speak our own language if it bothers you I’m sorry,” the victim said she told the assailant moments before the beating.
Asma has said the attack has left her physically and emotionally broken:
“Emotionally it’s destroyed me honestly. I’ve lived in Minnesota for 15 years. I’ve never been looked at strangely ever.”
Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said in all his years of public service, he had never dealt with this kind of intolerance:
“This is a case of an individual who was intolerant and not accepting of someone who was speaking in a language other than English in her presence and felt that if you are in America you should speak English,” Sommer said.
“We kind of feel like we’ve come a long way with racism and intolerance in our country,” he added, “but every so often something like this happens and reminds us we haven’t quite come far enough.”
We certainly haven’t quite come far enough, as we’ve documented a summer and fall of despicable attacks against immigrants and Latinos, many accompanying the same kind of rhetoric and brutality Asma faced for not “speaking American.”
And, this attack is a prime example of why so many immigrants and Latinos are angry about NBC inviting Trump to host an episode of “Saturday Night Live”: Trump’s message of hate and racism gets legitimized while immigrants like Asma are left to pay the final price.