On Thursday, a Grand Jury indicted Madison County Court Judge Bill Weisenberger for simple assault on a vulnerable adult. The indictment stems from an incident at the Canton Flea Market on May 8, 2014. Weisenberger allegedly struck 20-year old Eric Rivers and yelled “run, n—-r run.” Rivers is a mentally disabled black male.
Weisenberger turned himself into the Madison County sheriff’s office Thursday. He was released shortly after that on 10,000 dollars bond. If convicted of the felony charge, the judge could face five years in prison. He could also be removed from the bench for having a felony conviction.
Since the reported assault, Judge Weisenberger has come under fire for other racist behavior as well. For example, an African-American was allegedly jailed for the non-existent charge of “roaming livestock”. Another black individual was reportedly given an illegal sentence for a DUI conviction.
The judge’s comments put Mississippi in the spotlight for racial intolerance yet again. Weisenberger’s indictment represents a stark contrast between his commitment to racial equality, and that of fellow Mississippian U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves. Earlier in the week, Reeves sentenced three white men to prison, for their roles in the death of 48-year old James Craig Anderson, who was murdered in a Jackson parking lot. During the sentencing, Reeves spoke eloquently about Mississippi’s tortured past, and he called for a “new Mississippi”.
However, Judge Weisenberger’s alleged behavior serves as a reminder that the “old Mississippi” is far from finished. Recent racist remarks by State Representative Gene Alday (R-Walls) further illustrate that much work is still to be done, to eradicate the cancer of racism from Mississippi soil.
In order for the justice system to appear colorblind, at the very least, overt racists have no position serving as arbiters of justice. If Judge Weisenberger is convicted of assaulting Eric Rivers, he should be incarcerated and removed from the bench immediately.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.