'Lucky to be alive': Man faces charges for racist attack on family at Michigan pool
A man in Kent County, Mich., is facing charges of ethnic intimidation charges for his recent racist attack on a Black man. According to WOOD-TV, the incident occurred on Saturday, August 7, 2021, at Staybridge Suites. A sworn testimony provided by investigators details the incident and insists the victim, identified as Jackie Beard Jr., is "lucky to be alive," the publication reports
During a recent interview with the publication, Beard shared details about the harrowing experience she endured describing it as the "most disturbing thing I have seen in my whole life."
According to Beard, he and his family were enjoying their time at the hotel pool when a man, later identified by police as Joel Venema, arrived with his children.
"He slammed his kids in the pool and I was like, OK, they are going to be on the wild side," Beard recalled as he noted that the behavior only grew worse. At one point, Beard even took the initiative to ask Venema to distance himself from his family. "I was like, whoa. I stepped in there and was like, 'Could you please take this away from my kids,'" he said.
That's when Venema reportedly fired off. "He's like, 'F you, N-word, F you, N-word. I'm going to kill you, N-word,'" Beard said.
When Beard attempted to walk away from the altercation, Venema escalated the situation by physically attacking Beard. The publication reports that Venema, who was "obviously intoxicated" according to court documents, "allegedly jumping on Beard's back and putting him in a chokehold."
Beard recalled the racial slurs Venema spewed during the attack. According to the victim, "He was like, 'I'm going to kill you, N-word. N-word, you are going to die tonight.' I'm like, 'No, I'm not.'"
The unfortunate attack reportedly happened in front of the Beard's three children. "I have never heard my baby cry like that. Even she knew in her innocent infant self that something was wrong," Beard's fiancée Lauren Summerfield said.
Beard went on to explain how the attack made him feel. "I've had someone calling me the N-word — that's something small to a giant," Beard said. "But physically putting their hands on me, telling me they are going to die and me kind of blacking out" had never happened before."
Venema is now facing a total of three charges. If found guilty, Venema could face more than 10 years behind bars.
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