Woman recounts ‘unnerving’ run-in with city councilman ed ahlersmeyer local news goshennews.com electricity tower vector

#

Among those are Elkhart resident Tonna Robinson, who in a Facebook post dated April 3, encouraged residents to attend the April 17 Goshen City Council meeting to “ask that the city council remove Ed Ahlersmeyer from the Community Relations Commission and reprimand him for using his official position to disseminate racist rhetoric.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, Ahlersmeyer was questioned by several community and CRC members about why he decided to share such a divisive article. In response, Ahlersmeyer said that while he does not necessarily agree with all of the viewpoints expressed by Goodman in the article, he does feel the article was worthy of discussion by the commission.

“I still believe that it is a healthy conversation to understand the perspective of the writer, and have the conversation on what’s wrong with it, but then also find some common ground, and have the tough discussion on what’s right about it as well,” Ahlersmeyer said Tuesday.

Robinson, who had never attended a Goshen CRC meeting before, was also in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting. It was the first time she had ever seen the city councilman face to face, though the two did not speak. But that would not be the case for long, according to Robinson.

In an interview with The Goshen News Thursday morning, Robinson recounted what she described as an “unnerving” encounter with Ahlersmeyer early Wednesday evening after he allegedly recognized her vehicle in Elkhart and followed her to a South Bend parking lot.

“As I parked my car and was getting out, I noticed Ed Ahlersmeyer had pulled in next to me,” Robinson said. “So I got out of my car, he got out of his car, and that’s when he said something like, ‘I thought it was a blessing that God put our paths together.’ He just kept saying God brought us together. It was really scary.”

Confused about why he was there, Robinson said she asked if he had been following her, to which he said he’d recognized her car from Tuesday’s CRC meeting and decided to follow her to try and further discuss some of her concerns related to his reading of the Goodman article.

“… And I said, ‘Yes! I don’t know this man, and he followed me!’ So I both verbally and with my body language clearly indicated to Ed that I did not want him anywhere near me, and that I did not want to talk to him. And he would not take no for an answer.”

“(Ahlersmeyer) continued to argue with the guy, basically indicating it was his right to dictate when and where he was going to talk to me,” Robinson said. She left the parking lot and went inside a nearby building where she remained until about 7 p.m.

“I immediately thought… I am publicly encouraging people to attend this city council meeting to call for his resignation from the city council and for his removal from the CRC, and now he has come to get me,” Robinson said of the encounter. “… My first thought was, here is a man in a position of power, and I am a woman with no power in any kind of official capacity. I really think he was trying to intimidate me into silence.

“Maybe he expected me to fight back, I don’t know. And I am going to fight back, but I will dictate on what terms I fight back. And I’m definitely not going to do it alone in a parking lot. I’m going to do it with witnesses and the community present, and through official channels.”

“When he called me, he left a voicemail that said, ‘I need you to call me back as soon as possible. It’s very important. It’s regarding one of your friends, and a terrible, terrible mistake I made this afternoon’. And he sounded so very distressed,” Troyer said of Ahlersmeyer’s initial call. “… But he expressed that his intent was not to frighten her, and he wanted to talk to her, because he’d seen her at the CRC meeting Tuesday night. So he just asked that I reach out to her, just to let her know what his intention was, and what he had done after she left.”

Ahlersmeyer told CRC members he made a few calls and then, “I decided to go to the South Bend police station to inquire if a report had been submitted about a woman being approached by someone, and didn’t want to. I wanted to make myself available if they were looking for me.”

“I spoke with Tonna after speaking with Ed, and she expressed that she was really scared, and she was very happy that I called her and talked to her,” Troyer said. “And she said while she appreciated Ed saying that his intent wasn’t to be threatening, she felt that’s exactly what it was. And she said when she backed away, she carries pepper spray, and she had flipped the safety off and was clutching it, and if he had taken another step closer, he would have been pepper sprayed in the face. She said she was shaking with fear.”

Asked if she planned to file criminal charges against Ahlersmeyer, Robinson said she had been encouraged by some in the community to seek a restraining order, though she is concerned such a move would limit her ability to share her story during next week’s Goshen City Council meeting.