A Nashville man who gained national attention by allegedly ramming the car in front of him because it had a bumper sticker supporting Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign pleaded guilty yesterday to criminal charges.
Harry Weisiger, 70, of Elmington Ave., a former vice president with Hardaway Realty in Nashville, entered guilty pleas on one charge each of misdemeanor reckless endangerment and driving under the influence. Other charges against him, including leaving the scene of an accident, were dismissed.
On the afternoon of March 25, 2010, Belmont-area resident Mark Duren was driving home with his 10-year-old daughter in the car when, according to police reports, Weisiger pulled up in his SUV behind Duren’s Toyota Camry at a stop sign.
"He blew his horn at Duren to get his attention," the arresting officer reported. "He then began to point at Duren’s OBAMA/BIDEN bumper sticker. He then began to stick up the middle finger of both of his hands to Duren. When Duren left the stop sign, Weisiger rushed up to him and began to bump his vehicle into Duren’s Camry. Weisiger then used his vehicle to push Duren’s Camry into a driveway located at 2539 Blair Blvd."
Officers arrested Weisiger soon afterward in the parking lot of the nearby Harris-Teeter supermarket.
The incident made national news and lit up the political blogosphere. Left-wing bloggers like Wonkette cited it as evidence of a violent streak in the ranks of those opposed to Obama's presidency. On the right, sites like Left Coast Rebel accused Duren of being a publicity-seeker and noted that the incident happened just a few weeks after Weisiger had lost his wife to cancer.
Criminal Court Judge Leon Ruben sentenced Weisiger to serve 48 hours in jail for the DUI conviction and placed him on probation for two years, during which time he is required to undergo alcohol treatment. He is also to complete 48 hours of community service, pay a $350 fine and lose his license for a year. And Ruben ordered him to issue a written apology to Duren and his daughter.
Susan Niland, spokesperson for the Metro District Attorney's office, told The City Paper that Duren had "consulted with our prosecutor and suggested this plea, as one that was satisfactory to him and his family."