What if Kidnapper's Neighbor Had Just Walked Away?

Amy Davidson: Charles Ramsey is a hero
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 7, 2013 1:03 PM CDT
What if Kidnapper's Neighbor Had Just Walked Away?
Neighbor Charles Ramsey speaks to media near the home on the 2200 block of Seymour Avenue, where three missing women were rescued in Cleveland, on Monday, May 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/The Plain Dealer, Scott Shaw)

(Newser) – When Charles Ramsey heard a woman screaming and trying to escape a neighbor's home in Cleveland, "I figured it was a domestic violence dispute," he told a news station. It wasn't: It was Amanda Berry, kidnapped 10 years ago, and Ramsey helped her escape. But his initial assumption is telling, writes Amy Davidson in the New Yorker. "In many times and places, a line like that has been offered as an excuse for walking away, not for helping a woman break down your neighbor’s door. How many women have died as a result? They didn’t yesterday." What's more, Ramsey has said in interviews that he was friendly with the neighbor, having barbequed together in the past. What if he had ignored Berry and just told Ariel Castro later that someone was being loud?

"For Berry and the others to be rescued ... Ramsey needed to not care who she might be at all—to think that all that mattered was that a woman was trapped behind a door that wouldn’t open, and to walk onto the porch," Davidson writes. Beyond his newfound hero status, Davidson finds Ramsey simply "compelling." (Consider his "transfixing" 911 call, in which "he does a better job with the essentials like the address than the 911 operator.") The rest of the Internet loves Ramsey, too—he's already the star of a ton of memes and he's been autotuned—but not everyone is happy with his treatment in the media thus far. For evidence, check out the comments on this Gawker piece. Writes Miles Klee on BlackBook, "Perhaps it’s time for the world’s meme artists to stop assuming that any black dude getting interviewed on local news about a crime he helped to foil can be reduced to some catch phrase or in-joke." (Read more Ariel Castro stories.)

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