Charles Ramsey’s turbulent 15 minutes of fame

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“There’s always this sense of ‘otherness’ when something like this happens, when you see people who don’t look like you or talk like you,” said Tracy Clayton, a writer and editor for the Root website. “I like to laugh and make jokes as much as the other person, but I hope that we remember the women in this story, too.”

Eric Deggans, media critic for the Tampa Bay Times and author of “Race Baiter: How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation,” said he was most struck with how comfortable Ramsey appeared in front of camera. It’s not a shot of national attention he could have prepared for.

“It almost seems weird when you see somebody who is nervous in front of a camera anymore,” he said.

Ramsey attracted so much attention that websites and media organizations dug into his past. He did jail time for domestic violence in the 1990s, according to the Ohio Department of Corrections.

There was some indication Ramsey’s attention was prompting some jealousy. A Cleveland television station ran a story quoting Angel Cordero, another neighbor of Castro’s, who also said he was there helping Berry on Monday. “I was there and I was first,” Cordero said, according to WEWS-TV.

Phone calls to Ramsey’s house Wednesday went unanswered.

McDonald’s seemed particularly delighted by the unexpected association with a hero. The corporation tweeted on Tuesday: “Way to go Charles Ramsey — we’ll be in touch.” A company spokeswoman said Wednesday that it was trying to reach out to Ramsey through its local franchise.

Clayton said she hoped Ramsey’s legacy will be in his actions, not his words.

“I would like for him to be remembered, as he said, as a good man who did what anyone else would have done in that situation,” she said. “Unfortunately, I fear that he’ll be remembered as the guy they made a funny Auto-tune song about.”

It was a far more subdued Ramsey who appeared on “Good Morning America” on Wednesday. He did flash signs of his personality, holding up a can of Red Bull when he was asked how he was dealing with the attention and joking about being rivals with George Stephanopoulos’ high school alma mater.

He did a brief dance upon recalling how he used to listen to salsa music with Ariel Castro.

But he turned serious when Stephanopoulos asked if he had noticed any signs that his neighbor could be capable of the crimes he is accused of.

“No,” he said. “Isn’t that scary? Either I’m that stupid or his kind are that good.”

Ramsey has said he doesn’t feel like a hero and was quiet at Stephanopoulos’ question about what all the attention means to him.

“There is no feeling,” he said. “You do what you’ve got to do.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE — David Bauder can be reached at dbauder(at)ap.org or on Twitter (at)dbauder. His work can be found at http:bigstory.ap.org/content/david-bauder.

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