On Sunday, the Clarion Ledger reported a disturbing incident involving a Mississippi judge and a mentally challenged Black man. Bill Weisenberger, who is white, allegedly struck Eric Rivers, 20, and chanted “Run, boy, run,” and “run, n****r run.” The report stated that Weisenberger made the comments in front of witnesses.
The family of Eric Rivers filed a complaint with authorities against the judge earlier this month. While visiting a Canton, Mississippi flea market, vendor Cathy Hendrix told the Clarion that vendors often depend on locals to help load and unload their goods. Locals can earn a few extra dollars, and vendors don’t have to worry about painful back injuries. While his parents checked out bargains, Eric Rivers went looking for work for some cash to buy a bike.
Both Hendrix and her sister saw Rivers offering assistance to vendors. They also witnessed Weisenberger slap Rivers on the back twice and shout derogatory comments to Rivers. The witnesses said Weisenberger then bragged about the incident. Hendrix also noticed that Weisenberger was dressed as a security officer, and didn’t realize he was a judge.
William Truly, the current president of the local NAACP branch believes the judge should resign. The NAACP will also file a complaint against the judge. Darlene Ballard, executive director of the state Judicial Commission, said the incident, if true, would be a violation of judicial rules. The Clarion reports that Weisenberger declined to comment on the incident when asked for a response.
In Mississippi, Justice Court judges aren’t required to attend law school. The only requirement to get elected is to have a high school diploma and to complete six hours of training annually after the election. According to the judge’s website, he referred to himself as the “justice judge.” The www.thejusticejudge.com website appears to now be disabled.