BY DIANA BIERMAN
Who can free three women from a decade in captivity—and go on with life giving the utmost of amiable interviews? That would be Charles Ramsey. His hilarious demeanor and dialogue are what has turned his face into meme after meme, his interviews into auto-tune after auto-tune.
May 6 was a day like most others for the now-Internet legend, of Cleveland, Ohio. With the day off from work, Ramsey decided to go to McDonald’s for lunch. When he came back to his house, ready to chow down on his Big Mac, that’s when he heard the screaming.
“I came outside, and I see this girl goin’ nuts tryin’ to get out of this house,” he explained. Thinking it was a domestic violence dispute, he went over to the house—owned by someone he knew and frequently conversed with—and saw Amanda Berry, a girl who was missing for the last decade.
“Help me get out, I’ve been in here a long time,” she said. While he didn’t know it was Berry at first, he helped her squeeze through the barricaded door after he kicked it in.
“As soon as she got out, she said, ‘My name is Amanda Berry, call the police’,” Ramsey explained. “When she told me, it didn’t register.”
After they both called 911 and police showed up, Gina DeJesus, now 23, and Michelle Knight, now 32, were freed from the property as well. A 6-year-old girl, confirmed to be Berry’s child, was also rescued.
“I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms, something is wrong here. Dead giveaway,” Ramsey (now famously) stated.
When asked if Ramsey had any indication that the owner of the house, Ariel Castro, 52, a former school bus driver, could’ve been involved in such an appalling kidnapping, he said, “Bro, not a clue!”
“I barbeque with this dude,” Ramsey said, explaining that he sees Castro all the time, and has lived on the block for a year. “We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music.”
In another interview, he explained Castro’s unsuspected disposition further: “He just comes out to his backyard, plays with the dogs, tinkers with his cars and motorcycles, goes back in the house. So he’s just somebody you look [at] and look away, ‘cause he’s not doin’ nothing but the average stuff.”
When asked if he considered himself a hero, Ramsey responded, “No, no, no. Bro, I’m a Christian, an American. I’m just like you. We bleed same blood, put our pants on the same way. It’s just that you got to put that—being a coward, and I don’t want to get in nobody’s business. You got to put that away for a minute. You have to have cajones, bro.”
While Ramsey resides in a low-income town, he said he wasn’t interested in any reward money. “Take that reward and give it to [them],” he said, referring to the three women.
The prize he might have to accept, however, is a new relationship with America’s classic burger joint, McDonald’s. In almost every interview Ramsey participated in, he mentioned how he was eating his McDonald’s before he heard Berry’s screaming. “We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey- we’ll be in touch,” the corporate McDonald’s twitter tweeted on Tuesday.
The bad of Ramsey’s fame: Shortly after his interviews were released, media began posting about his past domestic violence arrests. However, that hasn’t stunted his stardom. In fact, he’s not ashamed at all. “I’ve made amends with the people involved and we’ve all moved on and grown up,” he explained. “Those incidents helped me become the man I am today and are the reason why I try to help the community as much as I can—including those women.”
“If I had so much hatred for women, I would have minded my own business this week and walked away instead of risking my life to save someone else,” he added.
And now, added to the potential negative, there are now doubts whether Ramsey truly played the role he claimed. A far quieter neighbor of Ramsey’s, a Spanish immigrant who knows little English, has recently claimed to be the one who initially responded to Berry’s cries, with Ramsey coming over after the door was already knocked in.
Watch one of Ramsey’s interviews here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcLSI3oyqhs
Listen to Ramsey’s 911 call here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xjkce4b6l40