Updated Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, 7:30 p.m. EST: Judge Mike Erwin of Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court has released a statement denying that he called a black patron at Sammy’s Grill in Baton Rouge, La., a “nigger.”
When Louisiana Judge Mike Erwin noticed a man share his seat with a black woman inside crowded Baton Rouge, La., establishment Sammy’s Grill on Feb. 3, he allegedly spewed, “You should have made her get her fat nigger ass up.”
Kaneitra Johnson, a resident of Baton Rouge, shared her traumatic experience in a public Facebook post that has been shared 183 times to date. She went into even further detail with the Rouge Collection.
While at the bar, Johnson says they struck up a conversation with a Lyft driver who was seated at the bar.
“He was sitting and I was standing that entire time. He stepped away to the restroom so I sat in the seat until he got back, ” said Johnson. “When he got back I asked if he wanted to have his seat back and he said ‘No. I’m about to go any way.’ But before I leave I do need my jacket. “
Johnson says she and the driver share[d] the seat until he leaves.“I’m halfway on the seat and the Lyft driver is on the other half of the seat,” Johnson said. “Then he asked for his jacket. All of a sudden I hear this older man behind me tell the Lyft driver, ‘You never give up your seat for a n*gger.’”
As Johnson and the driver sat side by side, the older man continues, “You should have made her get her fat n*gger a** up.”
Johnson says that it was only after police arrived on the scene that she learned the racist white man in question was Judge Mike Erwin of Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court, which covers East Baton Rouge.
Neither police officers nor management at Sammy’s Grill held Erwin accountable in any way for his words at the time, Johnson said on Facebook.
That has since changed, according to Sammy’s Grill Manager Andy McKay.
“I wasn’t there that night, so I can’t comment on the details, but I know police were called,” McKay told The Root. “I can also tell you that the owner Sammy Nagem has made it clear that Judge Erwin is no longer welcome here.
“We will refuse his business,” McKay added.
According to the website for Louisiana’s 19th District, Erwin was an assistant city prosecutor in Baton Rouge City Court from 1979 to 1981. He then served as an assistant district attorney with the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office from 1981 to 1990 before his election to the 19th Judicial District Court in 1991.
This means he’s had the lives of black men and women in his hands for a very long time. While racism is both covert and overt, if Erwin will call a black woman a nigger in a crowded restaurant, his capacity for institutional, racist violence is vast—and he should not be serving on anyone’s bench.
Calls to both Nagem and Ervin were not returned at the time this article was published. We will update if they respond.
Read more at the Rouge Collection.