A Muslim woman who was assaulted with a beer mug by a woman in a Coon Rapids restaurant told the defendant during sentencing that she holds no ill will and added that what she wears and her skin color should not matter.
Asma Jama stood in an Anoka County courtroom on Tuesday, wiped away a tear, tugged gently on her hijab and turned her head toward her attacker, 44-year-old Jodie Burchard-Risch, and told her she felt no ill will toward her. Burchard-Risch had admitted slamming a beer mug into Jama's face at an Applebee's restaurant in October 2015 and demanding that she speak English.
"My intentions toward you are not bad," said Jama, her clear and simple delivery captured on video by KARE-TV, Channel 11. "I don't have any ill feelings towards you. I just want you to understand at the end of all this that we are all the same.
"It doesn't matter what's on my head," she continued, making a gentle tug on her hijab. "It doesn't matter the color of my skin, we are all the same human beings, we are fighting for the same rights."
Jama, who immigrated from Kenya, resides in Minneapolis and has lived in Minnesota for more than 16 years. She was with friends at the restaurant just off the Round Lake Boulevard exit from Hwy. 10, chatting in Swahili, when Burchard-Risch and her husband accosted the group with verbal jabs such as, "In America, we speak English," and "Go home!"
Jama confronted the pair, and it was then that Burchard-Risch heaved her mug with "a roundhouse punch-like motion" into Jama's face, according to police. The blow left her with a bloodied nose, cuts above her eyebrow and a gash on her lower lip deep enough to need several stitches.
Burchard-Risch, of Ramsey, pleaded guilty two months ago and heard her sentence on Tuesday of 180 days in jail, with the possibility of work release. She also was put on five years' probation and was ordered to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. Violating probation could mean a sentence of more than three years.
Rodd Tschida also spoke to the court during sentencing and noted that his client "did not sugarcoat her plea of guilty" to third-degree assault.
Burchard-Risch remained silent during the proceeding.