La Conexión is a Latino-based
social and cultural support organization.
of Mount Cory, and Zarrick Ramirez of Findlay, both 18,
told BG police they did nothing to provoke a series of racial
slurs and a beat-down while customers at the restaurant.
Witnesses, including employees, backed them up, resulting in the
arrests of Jacob Dick, 22, North Baltimore, and
Zachary Keller, 21, of Custar, for felonious assault and
Witnesses reported the two suspects began to harass the teens as
soon as they walked into the Waffle House on March 31. One even
told the teens president Donald Trump would deal with
immigrants like them. At one point, things got nasty enough that
restaurant employees had to stand between the two pairs of men.
The high school students got uncomfortable enough to ask for
another table on the other side of the restaurant.
Things calmed down until
Dick and Keller paid their bill. Witnesses told police the two
suspects then went to the teens’ table and assaulted them. The
two men then fled the restaurant after the attack. Police
later identified the suspects by the credit card they used to
pay their bill and a restaurant patron’s confirmation.
Ramirez suffered a broken nose and
other injuries. Hartford injured his shoulder and bruised his
Ramirez attends Findlay High School while Hartford goes to
Liberty Benton High School.
“We weren’t saying anything to them. That’s the craziest thing. It
was based on just the way we looked. That is so messed up. Who
cares what anybody looks like,” Hartford told the BG
Independent News. “It was making me uncomfortable. I’ve been
discriminated against before, but not anything like this. You’d
expect this from somewhere in the South. But we’re in Ohio.”
“I’ve never been hated on like that,” added Ramirez.
The community outrage over the incident was immediate. US
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
released a statement condemning the attack.
“I am sad and outraged. Racism has no place in our society and
Connie and I are heartbroken that this happened in our great
state of Ohio,” said. Sen. Brown. “We must stand with one voice
and say together that we will not tolerate acts of racism,
violence and hate against our neighbors.”
Green State University President Rodney Rogers also released a
statement condemning the attack:
“Acts like this are not representative of the community in which
we live. We must meet moments like these head on, holding fast
to our values. We join with Not In Our Town, La Conexión,
and other members of our community in standing against hate,”
the statement read.
At a subsequent Bowling Green City Council meeting, La
Not In Our Town,
and other community groups presented a list of requests for the
city to limit racism and other forms of hate. About 80 people
packed city council chambers, forcing some people to listen from
Ms. Maya told city council members the attack “deeply affected
and rightly outraged the BG community.”
organized a pair of meetings in the beatdown’s aftermath to
organize a community response.
Ms. Maya outlined three recommendations for city leaders to
Acknowledge and condemn the presence of systemic racism in the
Adopt ordinances ensuring businesses and organizations approach
hate with “zero tolerance” policies; and
Support and revise more task force work in the city to better
respond to hate incidents.
La Conexión’s executive director is
hoping city officials can build on work first done in 2017 to
establish Bowling Green as a welcoming city for immigrants. The
nonprofit group also is encouraging more establishments to adopt
“bystander training,” which provides people the tools to
personally intervene in hate-based episodes they witness.
Bowling Green resident Susana Peña pointed to the city
council’s past efforts—its human relations commission and
Welcome BG Initiative among them—but stated the hard work is far
from done on racism.
“We’re looking to City Council for leadership,” Ms. Peña said.
“We need more resources committed toward these actions.”
Well-known Latino artist Emanuel Enriquez—a Bowling Green
State University graduate and resident of Bowling Green—was
outraged that such a blatant attack would occur.
One BG City Council member relayed that he had one of the
suspects in the government class he taught at North Baltimore
High School, his voice shaking with emotion as he spoke.
“I feel the sting when that’s inadequate,” said city councilman
Mark Hollenbaugh. “There are people within our community
who have values who don’t represent us.”
City council members individually pledged to work on the issue
and thanked the different organizations for their suggested
“We will take them all very seriously,” said city council member
Bruce Jeffers, adding that any statement about the recent
racist attack seems inadequate. “Our work continues.”
“I would like you all to feel encouraged,” said city council
member Bill Herald, assuring the crowd that council was
Council president Michael Aspacher said the issue of
local racism is a “community problem that is going to require a
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