In an echo of Mississippi's past, a Justice Court judge here is accused of striking a mentally challenged young man and yelling, "Run, n-----, run." The family has filed a complaint with police against Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger, who is white, alleging he struck their 20-year-old African-American son, Eric Rivers, on May 8 at the Canton Flea Market. "This is 2014," said former Canton Mayor William Truly, president of the Canton branch of the NAACP, "not 1960, where someone could slap a young man and call out, 'Run, n-----, run."
It's sometimes necessary to check the date on an article, if for no other reason than to make sure a piece from years ago wasn't accidentally re-published. This Clarion-Ledger piece from the weekend, for example, may sound like news from a bygone era, but it deals with accusations of alleged behavior from this month in Mississippi.
In the wake of recent racial controversies surrounding Cliven Bundy and Don Sterling, it's been an ugly spring. But if the allegations involving Weisenberger are accurate, this is arguably the most disgusting incident of the bunch.
Some of the details are a little fuzzy, though Wonkette did a nice job of summarizing the available information: "The incident occurred at a flea market in the town of Clarion on May 8. The young man, 20-year-old Eric Rivers, was hanging around the vendors as they unloaded their wares, hoping some of them would pay him a few bucks to help. Rivers was confronted by Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger who, for reasons no one seems clear about, did not take kindly to the young black man's presence. Hence the slap and the shouted racial slur as Rivers ran off."
The allegations come not from the young man himself, but from an unrelated witness participating in the flea market.
The local NAACP said the judge should either resign or at least agree to stop hearing cases until the matter is resolved.
"No citizen should have to face justice before a judge who holds such a high degree of racial animus and hatred," the NAACP's William Truly said in a news conference Friday.
The Clarion-Ledger report added that the executive director of the state Judicial Commission said if the allegations are true, they would "violate multiple canons" of the Judicial Code of Conduct.
I should certainly hope so.