Prosecutors in the case of a woman who smashed a Muslim’s face with an Applebee’s beer mug believe that the woman was motivated by hate but do not want to pursue hate crime charges, for fear that the charges would be a lower-level offense.
Instead, prosecutors are charging the woman with felony third-degree assault. By contrast, hate crimes are considered a gross misdemeanor.
“Unfortunately, based on our laws, if we charge the crime that has that title (hate) in it, we run the risk of a conviction of a lower level offense and we don’t want to do that,” said Paul Young, of the Anoka County Attorney’s Office.
“We absolutely recognize the truth and the ugliness of the crime, but we are also going to do our job and try to make the punishment fit the crime, and a gross misdemeanor doesn’t do that,” he told the Star-Tribune. “All we are doing is saying that for some reason the Minnesota Legislature said a bias assault or a hate crime in Minnesota is a gross misdemeanor.”
The charges have been leveled against Jodie Burchard-Risch after she became enraged in an Applebee’s restaurant when she overheard Asma Jama speaking Swahili. She told Jama to “go home” and then smashed the cup across her face.
Below is an interview with Jama shortly after the incident occurred.