Charles Ramsey probably never realized how much attention he would receive when he heard a woman “going nuts” inside the house at 2207 Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.
Within 24 hours the 43-year-old was an Internet sensation, lauded by some for “keepin’ it real” with his observations about what it means to see a white woman running into the arms of a black man–a “dead giveaway” that something was wrong. Some mocked him for his speaking style and his appearance, while others praised him for being a good neighbor and having the courage to step up and help someone in need in an age when it can be easy to ignore.
Ramsey helped Amanda Berry, one of three women held in captivity for a decade, and her daughter escape on Monday by kicking in the door to the house after he heard her scream. Authorities have charged Ariel Castro with four counts of kidnapping and three charges of rape in the case.
Within 48 hours, details from Ramsey’s past crept out. The Smoking Gun dug up court documents showing Ramsey had a history of domestic abuse, busted on multiple occasions between 1997 and 2003.
During an interview after the rescue, Ramsey told reporters that he thought Berry’s cries for help were part of a domestic violence dispute.
After news of his arrests were made public, Ramsey said he has learned from his past mistakes. Ramsey told TMZ that he has “made amends with the people involved and we’ve all moved on and grown up.”
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.
As Rev. Sharpton explained on Wednesday’s show, whatever pain and anguish his actions may have made in the past, that does not take away from the immensely positive impact he made on the lives of these three women (and a child)–Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and her daughter–on Monday.
“The dramatic story from Cleveland has shown us that an ordinary man, even an imperfect man, can be a hero,” Sharpton said. ”We know what he did when he became famous for doing the right thing.”
Sharpton continued, “Those young women were held prisoners for 10 years, and during that time many better dressed people drove by that house, until Charles Ramsey heard a voice cry out for help. That is all that matters, and he is a hero.”