NAACP protesters to picket Weber's ceremony

Ann Knef Nov. 3, 2005, 8:56am

Protesters from the Madison County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will be picketing outside the courthouse Friday as former prosecutor Don Weber is officially sworn into office as resident circuit judge.

"There's nothing we can do to stop it," said James Gray, Madison County NAACP president. "But we're letting him know that people in Madison County, especially black people, are not happy."

Weber was selected by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Phillip Kardis. Over three decades, Weber built a reputation as a fierce prosecutor, offending Metro-East African-American leaders along the way.

"There's no way African Americans are going to get a fair hearing in his court," Gray said, claiming Weber has a "racist" track record.

"I am appalled we didn't get a better judge."

Gray said it was "imperative" that his organization stand in protest.

In 1990, Weber was fired by Madison County State's Attorney William Haine (now a state senator) for refusing to apologize for making this comment in the press: "the environment in a certain segment of the black community where lying is just like breathing to some of these people."

The remarks were related to a case in which five black teenagers confessed to murdering a homeless man in Alton. They were cleared, Weber said, because he got the accused to "unconfess," so that the guilty parties could be prosecuted.

Weber said he was ensuring that justice be served.

St. Clair County NAACP President, the Rev. Johnny Scott, had even more harsh things to say about Weber's appointment, likening him to Adolf Hitler.

"Judge Karmeier made an awful decision," Scott said. "It is absolutely unfair to African Americans and poor people."

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