La Conexion of Wood County

Citizens ask Latta to stand up against Trump’s hateful rhetoric

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Citizens horrified by the racist attack at Waffle House in Bowling Green earlier this year demanded Thursday that U.S. Rep. Bob Latta take a stand against racist rhetoric from President Donald Trump. As customary, their pleas were made to a staff member in the congressman’s Bowling Green office. District Director David Wirt took notes and said he would pass along the information to Latta. Members of La Conexion of Wood County have asked many times to meet with Latta, R-Bowling Green, but have yet to gain access to the congressman. Wirt asked if the citizens had seen Latta’s statement on Facebook after the Waffle House attack. Beatriz Maya, director of La Conexion, said the hate crime calls for more than a Facebook post. “We found that Facebook post not up to what the situation is requiring,” she said. “We’re expecting him to be more of a strong voice in this incident.” Initially, news media was kept out of the meeting Thursday between Wirt and the citizens, and were told to wait outside the office. However, when it started pouring rain, members of the media were allowed in. Maya explained that a series of community meetings have been held since the March 31 attack involving two men using racist slurs and beating up two customers at the Waffle House. The victims reported the attackers said Trump would deal with immigrants like them. Jacob Dick, 22, North Baltimore, and Zachary Keller, 21, of Custar, have been charged with felonious assault and ethnic intimidation. The community meetings identified some actions to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future. Bowling Green city and police officials have responded by agreeing to offer employee and bystander training, and working on an ordinance on hate crimes. But the community also had the following recommendations for Latta: “We ask that you send a clear and strong message from your constituents to President Trump that his rhetoric is inciting violence in local communities. The recent incident is deeply damaging the reputation of the city and of BGSU. This racist rhetoric must immediately cease.”“We ask that you work with Congress to address the dramatic increase in hate crimes and specifically the rise of white supremacy and white nationalism.”“We invite you to work with the City of Bowling Green, BGSU, the community at large, and with victims of hate crimes to develop…


Teens try to recover from assault; community tries to make sure it doesn’t happen again

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The two high school seniors assaulted at the Waffle House in Bowling Green last month are struggling to get their lives back to normal. “His nose is broken, he’s having trouble breathing regularly,” Justin Hartford said of his friend Zarrick Ramirez, 18, of Findlay. “He’s still in a lot of pain.” Hartford has bruised ribs and pain in his chest from inflammation after the attack. But worse than the physical pain is the memory of the attack that Hartford just can’t shake. “I have nightmares about it,” Hartford, 18, of Mount Cory, said on Friday. “I have really bad anxiety about going into restaurants. The other day my mom asked if I wanted to go out to eat,” but he just couldn’t do it. “It’s scary. Everywhere I go, I have to watch my back,” Hartford said. Zarrick Ramirez (left) and Justin Hartford at the skate park in BG City Park. It was nearly two weeks ago that Ramirez and Hartford walked into the Waffle House in Bowling Green around 3 a.m., and according to police reports, were met with ethnic slurs from two other customers. One of the men reportedly told the teens that President Donald Trump would deal with immigrants like them. Before leaving the restaurant, the men taunting the teens reportedly went over to their table and began beating them. Three employees and a customer told police the two victims did nothing to provoke the attack. Bowling Green Police Division arrested Jacob Dick, 22, North Baltimore, and Zachary Keller, 21, of Custar, for felonious assault and ethnic intimidation. The two men arrested for the racist attack may be the first to be charged with “ethnic intimidation” by the Bowling Green Police Division. “This is the first time I know of that we’ve used it,” Lt. Dan Mancuso said earlier this week of the law put into place in 1987. It’s not against the law to make racist comments to another person – however, making those comments while committing another crime like aggravated assault means the offense then rises to the next higher degree. “Ethnic intimidation is the only section I’m aware of in the Ohio Revised Code that deals with it directly,” Mancuso said. This is not the first racist incident involving Dick. Last December, Dick resigned from his job with the Hancock County Engineer after a video surfaced showing…


La Conexion asks Latta to stand up against family separations at border

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A group of citizens wants U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, to take a stand against family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. Latta has stated that the separation of families coming into the U.S. is “not necessary.” But that falls far short of calling out the practice as “a crime against humanity,” said Beatriz Maya, director of La Conexion of Wood County. “There was an intentionality in separating children from parents as a way to stop immigration,” Maya said during a meeting Thursday between La Conexion members and David Wirt, district director for Latta. “There was never an intention of returning these kids to their parents,” Maya said, noting the federal government’s admission that an insufficient record system now means that many children are still separated from their parents. Maya and others presented Wirt with a letter for Latta, asking that he support the termination of the family separations, the immediate reunification of children and parents, and allocations for more agents to process asylum claims. Wirt pointed out that Latta has stated that the separations are not necessary. That isn’t enough, Maya said. “The point is, what are we going to do about it,” she asked. The members of La Conexion asked for a face-to-face meeting with Latta about their concerns. Wirt said he would pass on that request to Latta’s office in Washington, D.C., where all the scheduling is handled. Amanda Schackow talks about family separations as Nicholas Eckhart listens. Most of the families separated at the border were not sneaking into the country, but openly seeking asylum – which is their right under international law, said La Conexion member Amanda Schackow. However, they were torn apart prior to any hearings held. “It’s pretty clear this was meant as a deterrent,” despite the U.S. experiencing a 20-year low in the number of asylum seekers, she said. Without their parents, many of the children had to represent themselves at asylum hearings – which determined if they would be deported, adopted or put in foster care. Many of the children were classified as “unaccompanied minors,” which was only because the U.S. government had separated them. “Those parents have a right to know where their kids are,” Schackow said. “That  is morally wrong.” “We have basically stolen children,” she said. Nicholas Eckhart said the separation policy is beneath the U.S. “It’s a crime against humanity,”…