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Michaels Ranter Was Never Attacked, Neighbor Says After Case Dropped

By  Ariel Cheung and Erica Demarest | December 29, 2016 10:04am | Updated on May 1, 2017 3:15pm

 A woman in the Lakeview Michaels unleashed her thoughts on customer service at the store as a bystander recorded.
A woman in the Lakeview Michaels unleashed her thoughts on customer service at the store as a bystander recorded.
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(UPDATE: Prosecutors later refiled charges against Ramiz Bajwa, and the case went to trial May 1. After Bajwa waived his rights to a jury trial, Judge Clarence Lewis Burch found him not guilty. Bajwa felt "vindicated" by the ruling and "wants to move on with his life," said his attorney, Jeremy Pfeifer.)

CHICAGO — The woman caught on video during a racist tirade at Michaels accused a man of attacking her in Lakeview last week, but a friend of the former suspect said the allegations were untrue. 

Ramiz Bajwa, 29, was arrested on Dec. 20 and charged with misdemeanor battery in the 800 block of West Cornelia Avenue, police said. 

On Thursday, the case was dismissed — although with the ability to reinstate charges — after the woman did not appear in court, court records show. 

The woman, who called a Michaels employee "an animal" in a tirade that went viral, lived at the Cornelia Avenue address, according to Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown, which first reported the incident. DNAinfo is not naming her since she has not been charged with a crime. 

She told police that Bajwa pushed her as they were both entering the apartment building, police said. As he did, he allegedly called her a "racist a-- b---h w--re," Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown reported, citing court records.

The woman was not injured, police said.

On Dec. 20, Bajwa was at the apartment building visiting his friend Stephane Jean-Louis, who said in an interview that the woman was likely upset that Bajwa rang her doorbell on accident.

Jean-Louis saw Bajwa outside from his first-floor window, but the encounter with the Michaels woman must have happened as Bajwa approached his friend's front door, Jean-Louis said.

Although he heard the woman yelling at Bajwa and the two arguing "a little bit," Jean-Louis said he did not hear a scuffle ensue, and the woman was already walking back up the stairs by the time he'd gotten to the hallway.

"He can't even push her through that [front] door — you have to pull that door to get it open," Jean-Louis said Thursday. "There was no noise, nothing at all to make anyone seem like they were even pushed through the door."

Police arrived about 20 minutes later to arrest Bajwa, said Jean-Louis, who came to court with Bajwa on Thursday as a witness. Jean-Louis said it was not uncommon for his neighbor to get angry when someone rang the wrong doorbell in her apartment complex. 

The Michaels rant went viral after the woman, apparently enraged by a suggestion that she buy a larger grocery bag for her Michaels purchases, unleashed her fury on two employees at the Lakeview store the day before Thanksgiving.

Several people recorded the episode, during which the customer calls a black cashier "an animal" and suggests that the cashier and her manager, who are both African-American, are discriminating against her because she voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Jessie Grady, a witness who posted the YouTube video and subsequently launched a GoFundMe, said she was at the store when she saw the woman making a scene.

Disgusted by the customer's behavior, Grady posted the video on Facebook and started a GoFundMe for the manager in an effort to "show her that many people are horrified by how this woman treated her, and that we stand with her and appreciate her hard work." 

Grady's video of the tirade had been viewed more than 4 million times, and the GoFundMe had raised more than $32,000 for Holli, the manager. 

The Michaels ranter is known in the neighborhood for lashing out at workers. In June, a Peet's Coffee customer started recording when the same woman apparently called a store manager in Boystown "a b----" and mocked him for working at a cafe, adding that she had a "$90,000 a year job," the video shows.

Watch the Michaels incident here: