A longtime local Justice Court judge in Canton, Miss., reportedly struck a mentally challenged, young black man on May 8 during a flea market in the town, cursing him and yelling, “Run, n-----, run!”
According to a report by Jerry Mitchell at the Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Madison County Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger is accused by the family of 20-year-old Eric Rivers, as well as several witnesses, of striking the young man at the Canton Flea Market and chasing him away while shouting racial epithets. The incident has spurred an angry protest from local NAACP officials.
"I do not care if this young man was being a nuisance," said the first witness, who is white. "I do not care if he were breaking a law, I do not care if he were loitering, but I do care that a man of authority, one that is sworn to protect and serve, was slapping a young man."
She added that she also saw Weisenberger verbally assault a female vendor at the market, threatening to make her move her car to a distant location before she could unload. When the woman asked him to change his tone, he reportedly replied that he would only deal with her husband, “because he didn’t take orders from a woman.”
The executive director of the state Judicial Commission, Darlene Ballard, told Mitchell that if the allegations are true, they would "violate multiple canons" of the state’s Judicial Code of Conduct.
Former Canton Mayor William Truly, president of the Canton branch of the NAACP, led a press conference Friday denouncing Weisenberger.
"This is 2014, not 1960, where someone could slap a young man and call out, 'Run, n-----, run," Truly said. He called on Weisenberger either to simply resign or to step aside from 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," Truly said.