A group of all-white trainers allegedly forced a Black National Guardsman to wear a heavy chain during officer candidate school training.
For three days straight, white soldiers made Sgt. Bruce Weaver haul around a heavy chain while they berated him, Yahoo! News reports. While carrying the large chain, Weaver had to perform his regular training, which included running. Weaver often fell behind because of the chain’s weight. The trainers told Weaver it would help him remember the chain of command.
Weaver said he was mistreated, adding that it was similar to how slaveowners would bully and terrorize enslaved Black people. “At first, my inclination was to drag it,” said Weaver, who detailed the cruel events that took place five years ago.
“They said, ‘No, no. You wear it. That will keep you down.’ That hit me. That hit me. I suppressed it and kept going. The next day, they said, ‘You’re still wearing this chain.’ I told them this is inappropriate punishment. It’s also messing with me psychologically. Chains mean something to Black people.”
Weaver’s experience is just one of the cases that have yet to be investigated. Various units in the National Guard have received complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct, racism, assault, and more. Military law expert and New York University Law School professor Eugene R. Fidell called the details involved in the alleged abuse of trainees a “perfect storm.”
In a case like Weaver’s, Fidell outlined several factors that show negligence more than likely took place. He highlighted the lack of oversight by Congress, the thin layer of transparency regarding how the state and territorial Guard units operate. He also said the National Guard needs an unvarying process for how complaints are handled. “This case screams out for some remedy,” Fidell said.