COON RAPIDS, Minn. (AP) — A woman who was attacked by another woman in a suburban Minneapolis restaurant, allegedly because she was speaking a foreign language, said she feels traumatized and may move out of Minnesota.
Asma Jama told Minnesota Public Radio News (http://bit.ly/1S7gWxE ) that she was chatting with her family in Swahili, one of three languages she speaks, at an Applebee's in Coon Rapids on Oct. 30 when a woman in a nearby booth smashed a beer mug in her face. The attack left cuts on her face and a deep gash on her lip that required stiches.
"Somebody hit me because I was speaking a different language," said Jama, an ethnic Somali who came to Minnesota in 2000 from Kenya. Jama said she couldn't "believe after all these years somebody hit me because I'm different."
The woman accused in the attack, Jodie Burchard-Risch, was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with third-degree assault. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has called for hate crime charges.
Additional charges are possible, said Paul Young, criminal division chief in the Anoka County Attorney's Office. He noted that prosecutors are still investigating and waiting for medical reports.
A criminal complaint alleges that Burchard-Risch was upset that the victim was speaking in a foreign language and yelled at her, then refused to leave when restaurant managers tried to intervene. Burchard-Risch continued to yell and threw a drink on the victim, then smashed a beer mug in her face before fleeing, according to the complaint.
No working phone numbers for Burchard-Risch could be found Saturday by The Associated Press. Burchard-Risch is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 7. It wasn't immediately known if she had an attorney.
Jama said she feels "traumatized" and doesn't feel safe leaving her house alone. When she needed to have the 17 stitches removed from her lip on Thursday, she asked her cousin to join her.
"I'm actually thinking about moving out of Minnesota," she said. "I'm scared for my life. I don't feel comfortable here anymore."
Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org