By Caleb McCluskey
A weekly newspaper reporter alleged in a column this week that Magnolia Mayor Anthony Witherspoon pushed him when he requested an interview.
Magnolia Gazette City Editor Terry Jackson claimed in a column published Thursday that Witherspoon physically and verbally assaulted him on July 6 in City Hall.
Jackson claimed Witherspoon was “out of control,” allegedly pushing him against a counter after calling the paper racist.
In an interview Friday, Jackson said the altercation was triggered when he asked Witherspoon for an interview. Jackson alleged that Witherspoon “grabbed a copy of the newspaper and pointed to the front-page article,” which was about the recent discussion of changing the state flag. Jackson said Witherspoon said he would not “contribute sales to a racist paper” and refused to interview.
“I said, ‘Shut up and listen because we agree,’ then he pushed me up (to) the counter,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s column did not mention making that remark to Witherspoon.
Jackson said he spoke with his lawyer about the next steps he could take, noting that he filed a report with both Magnolia police and the Pike County Sherriff’s Office. Jackson said he has been unable to obtain a copy of the police report filed with Magnolia police.
“It’s not ready, the detective is not here — any excuse they can think of for not trying to give me the report,” Jackson said. “It will continue until we get some kind of conclusion.”
The Enterprise-Journal was unable to obtain a copy of either report on Friday.
Jackson said he was unhurt, and the main thing he wants from Witherspoon is an apology.
When contacted Friday, Witherspoon said he had been out of the country, and declined to respond until he had a chance to read the Gazette column.
“I am trying to stay focused on running the city,” he said, adding that he would read the article and determine if it merited a response.