Judge Accused of Striking Black Male and Taunting Him with Racial Slurs
By David Moye
A Mississippi judge is being investigated after allegedly striking a mentally challenged black male and hurling racial epithets at him.
The alleged incident happened May 8 at a flea market in Canton, Mississippi, where Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger, who is white, was moonlighting as a security guard.
Several witnesses claim Eric Rivers, 20, was standing on the sidewalk, asking vendors if they needed help.
One vendor, Tammy Westbook, said she saw Weisenberger “rear back and slap” Rivers twice, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
The blows pushed Rivers to the ground. When he got up and ran away, Westbrook said she heard Weisenberger yell out, “Run, boy, run,” and “run, n****r, run.”
Vickie McNeill, a friend of Rivers’ family, said the encounter was traumatic for Rivers.
“He’s a gentle soul, and because he was mentally challenged, he was a child that was simply looking for work. He didn’t want to harm anybody and didn’t think anybody would harm him,” McNeill told WAPT-TV. “He’s frightened by the whole experience.”
Rivers’ family has filed a police complaint against Weisenberger. The Madison County District Attorney’s Office says the case will go to a grand jury, the Associated Press reports.
Canton Mayor Arnel Bolden told WJTV.com that Weisenberger has not been arrested.
He told WAPT.com that extra care is being taken to ensure the investigation is properly executed.
“This is a very sensitive and serious matter as it involves an elected official, and we want to make sure we follow the proper protocol in terms of how we take any kind of legal action,” Bolden told the station.
William Truly, the president of the Canton NAACP, said Weisenberger should resign from his position as a judge.
“We want to know whether or not this alleged crime rises [to the level] of a hate crime,” Truly told WAPT.com. “We feel if this crime was made by Weisenberger that he should be removed from office.”
Before being elected in 2011, Weisenberger worked as a law enforcement officer and as an emergency operations director in Madison County.