Joel Venema of Kent County, Michigan, has been hit with three charges, including ethnic intimidation, after he allegedly yelled racial slurs and attacked a Black father at the pool of a Staybridge Suites hotel earlier this month.
The victim, Jackie Beard Jr., told local news outlet WOOD that happened to him was the “most disturbing thing I have seen in my whole life,” following his interaction with Venema. According to sworn testimonies from investigators obtained by the news outlet, on Saturday, Aug. 7, Bear was with his family near the pool when Venema joined the scene.
“He slammed his kids in the pool, and I was like, ‘OK, they are going to be on the wild side,’” Beard recalled, describing his observations of Venema and his family. Beard said shortly afterward he went over to speak to Venema, hoping that he and his kids would distance themselves.
“I was like, whoa. I stepped in there and was like, ‘Could you please take this away from my kids,'” he explained. That’s when Venema allegedly began hurling racial slurs at Beard and his three kids.
“He’s like, ‘F you, N-word, F you, N-word. I’m going to kill you, N-word,'” the victim told reporters. When Beard tried to walk away, the man, who is white, jumped on Beard’s back and placed him in a chokehold — and he would later jump on his back once more.
Venema reportedly threatened to kill the man, telling him, “I’m going to kill you, N-word. N-word, you are going to die tonight.'”
Court documents noted that Venema was intoxicated at the time of the incident. However, even after being taken into custody, he continued to use racial slurs toward a Grand Rapids police officer and another arrestee who was Black.
Beard told the outlet that being called the N-word was a minor offense to him. However, “physically putting their hands on me, telling me they are going to die and me kind of blacking out” is something the father three said was another matter. “If he got past me, he could have done anything to anyone of those people that was sitting out there (at the pool). And it’s not about Black and white, it’s the same blood; we all bleed the same blood,” he added.