N-word, other slurs used by city leader, NAACP says

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Dick Wiseman Dick Wiseman

TAYLORVILLE, Ill. (WAND) – A Taylorville city leader is facing scrutiny over racial slurs he’s accused of saying.

Teresa Haley, head of the Illinois NAACP, brought complaints to a Taylorville City Council meeting. She argues Dick Wiseman, who is superintendent for the street and sewer department in the city, has used the N-word toward employees and town residents.

“We have received several complaints (for) well over a year and a half (ago) from several residents and employees of the city about harassment – being called the N-word at work, saying they need to go out and ‘n’ rig their vehicles as opposed to hiring somebody (like) a machined to come repair those vehicles, (and) sitting in the break room or lunch room being called a ‘n’ lover,” Haley said.

Haley says the complaints came from as many as 10 city workers recently and in the last year-plus. She says they talked to past city leaders, including human resources, without anything happening. Taylorville Mayor Bruce Barry says he’s skeptical about the legitimacy of the complaints.

“There’s no record of it anywhere,” Barry said. “The human resourced (department) has no record of allegations about this, so I seem to doubt if this is genuine or not.”

Barry says Wiseman has worked for the city of Taylorville for over 40 years, adding that he needs to see evidence before moving from a stance of giving employees “the benefit of the doubt”.

“Maybe it’s something that happened in the past,” Barry said. “I don’t know for sure, but I think maybe it’s some outside forces working against Mr. Wiseman or myself.”

Haley says behavior like what Wiseman is accused of showing needs to end.

“A lot of these individuals have friends of color,” she said. “They have grandkids that are biracial. They want to see this behavior stop. It makes them feel uncomfortable (and) makes them feel intimidated. They’re afraid to speak out publicly because they need their jobs and they live in a small, close-knit community.”

Barry says there aren’t a lot of black employees who work for the city.

“We’ve had black police officers,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ve had any black AFSCME workers or not. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t, but we just don’t get that many applicants that are black.”

The PDF below details a list of NAACP complaints against Wiseman. Please note that some of the language is strong. 

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