racist attack at Waffle House

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…


BG Council listens to citizens angered by racist attack at Waffle House

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green City Council heard more Monday evening about the ripple effects from the racist attack at Waffle House two weeks ago. Council chambers was so full – with about 80 people there – that people had to listen from the hallway. They heard from a black woman who described her own experience of being verbally abused in a local restaurant. They heard from a Hispanic woman who wants training for business employees so they know how to handle such incidents. And they heard from a white City Council member whose voice shook with emotion as he told how one of the alleged attackers at the Waffle House was in his government class at North Baltimore High School. “I feel the sting when that’s inadequate,” council member and teacher Mark Hollenbaugh said. “There are people within our community who have values who don’t represent us,” he said. Eleven citizens took their concerns to City Council about the racial attack reported in the middle of the night on March 31. The incident started when Justin Hartford, 18, of Mount Cory, and Zarrick Ramirez, 18, of Findlay, entered Waffle House and were reportedly met with racial slurs from two other men in the restaurant. One of the men allegedly 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. Since then, two community meetings have been organized by La Conexion in an effort to come up with preventative measures to keep similar incidents from occurring in Bowling Green. “The incident deeply affected and rightly enraged” city citizens, said Beatriz Maya, leader of La Conexion. She thanked the police division for its quick response to the attack, and city leaders for speaking out against such hate crimes. “Bowling Green has taken a clear stance against hate,” Maya said. But more must be done, she told council. Maya read a list of recommendations gathered at the community meetings following the attack at Waffle House. The suggestions included: Acknowledgement that racism exists in the community, with more open…


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…


BG asked to stand up to stop hate attacks like assault at Waffle House

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News One week after two teenagers were beat up at the Bowling Green Waffle House, reportedly for being brown, more than 50 community members gathered at a church to prevent that type of attack from happening again. Some were sad about the hatred and injustice. Some were mad that the community keeps waging the same battles. “We are all appalled and disgusted by the totally unprovoked attack on these two men,” said Bowling Green City Council member Bruce Jeffers. “We abhor this kind of hateful attack.” Two area men have been arrested for using racist slurs and beating up the two customers at the Waffle House. One of the victims reported the attackers said President Donald Trump would deal with immigrants like them. Bowling Green Police Division has arrested Jacob Dick, 22, North Baltimore, and Zachary Keller, 21, of Custar, for felonious assault and ethnic intimidation. Waffle House employees told police that two men walked into the restaurant, and another table of men began to harass them, calling them racial slurs for Hispanic and black people. Three employees said the two victims – Justin Hartford, 18, of Mount Cory, and Zarrick Ramirez, 18, of Findlay – did nothing to provoke the others. After paying their bills, Dick and Keller went over to Hartford and Ramirez’s table and began assaulting them. “They do not embody anything about Bowling Green,” Jeffers said about the men arrested for the attack For two years, Bowling Green officials have been working to show that this community is a welcome place for immigrants. “It feels like a setback to our efforts to be a welcoming city,” Jeffers said. “We gather here tonight to find a way we can simply do better.” Beatriz Maya, of La Conexion, voices frustration. But while city leaders and residents may say “this is not who we are,” Susana Pena has heard that too often over the years. “That is part of what Bowling Green and Northwest Ohio is,” Pena said. The community may be in denial, and blind to the “daily injustices, slights and acts of racism that never reach the newspaper,” she said. “This is our community. That’s not saying that this is who we want to be.” When Not In Our Town was founded a few years ago, Pena thought this battle was put to rest. “I feel like we’re reinventing the wheel….