Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The "New" Black Panthers And The Old Art Of Conservative Whining!?!

Lost in the hoopla of Barack Obama's historic election day 08' was a lightly reported story of "voter intimidation" that took place in Philly. I only remember seeing this because someone happened to send the breaking story to me during my own historic 18 hour mega election day live blog. In case you missed it, or simply didn't give a sh*t, some folks apparently thought that two members of the New Black Panther Party were "intimidating" voters by standing in front of the polling place. Here's the video.

[Note to all white guys: don't evar roll up on a brotha and ask him "do we have any problems here? What's going on?" I can guarandamntee that you're definitely about to have a "problem". And that's a fact, Jack.]

Call me crazy, but all I see is two random Negroes in leather coats. If that amounts to voter intimidation, then I'm intimidated several dozen times a day in the Winter. Seriously, does the curvy hipster girl on the iPhone in the background look "intimidated" to you? How about the two white guys in suits milling about? They don't look scared to me.

Nope, all I see is two "ambush journalists" (peep the ominous "you got my back dude?" comment before they approach) who seem to be instigators.

Needless to say, black guys in black clothes loitering = somebody's callin' the Po-Po's.

Them Negroes broke camp like they was Brian Westbrook. I assumed that was the end of this story, but apparently it was only beginning.
Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.

The incident - which gained national attention when it was captured on videotape and distributed on YouTube - had prompted the government to sue the men, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring would-be voters with the weapon, racial slurs and military-style uniforms.

Career lawyers pursued the case for months, including obtaining an affidavit from a prominent 1960s civil rights activist who witnessed the confrontation and described it as "the most blatant form of voter intimidation" that he had seen, even during the voting rights crisis in Mississippi a half-century ago.

The lawyers also had ascertained that one of the three men had gained access to the polling place by securing a credential as a Democratic poll watcher, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The Washington Times.

The career Justice lawyers were on the verge of securing sanctions against the men earlier this month when their superiors ordered them to reverse course, according to interviews and documents. The court had already entered a default judgment against the men on April 20.

A Justice Department spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the agency had dropped the case, dismissing two of the men from the lawsuit with no penalty and winning an order against the third man that simply prohibits him from bringing a weapon to a polling place in future elections.

The department was "successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again," spokesman Alejandro Miyar said. "Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law."

Mr. Miyar declined to elaborate about any internal dispute between career and political officials, saying only that the department is "committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote."

Tensions between career lawyers and political appointees inside the Justice Department have been a sensitive matter since allegations surfaced during the Bush administration that higher-ups had ignored or reversed staff lawyers and that some U.S. attorneys had been removed or selected for political reasons.

During his January confirmation hearings, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that during his lengthy Justice Department tenure, the career lawyers were "my teachers, my colleagues and my friends" and described them as the "backbone" of the department.

"If I am confirmed as attorney general, I will listen to them, respect them and make them proud of the vital goals we will pursue together," he said.

Justice officials declined to say whether Mr. Holder or other senior Justice officials became involved in the case, saying they don't discuss internal deliberations.

The civil suit filed Jan. 7 identified the three men as members of the Panthers and said they wore military-style uniforms, black berets, combat boots, battle-dress pants, black jackets with military-style insignias and were armed with "a dangerous weapon"and used racial slurs and insults to scare would-be voters and those there to assist them at the Philadelphia polling location on Nov. 4.

The complaint said the three men engaged in "coercion, threats and intimidation, ... racial threats and insults, ... menacing and intimidating gestures, ... and movements directed at individuals who were present to vote." It said that unless prohibited by court sanctions, they would "continued to violate ... the Voting Rights Act by continuing to direct intimidation, threats and coercion at voters and potential voters, by again deploying uniformed and armed members at the entrance to polling locations in future elections, both in Philadelphia and throughout the country."

Mr. Bull said the "clear purpose" of what the Panthers were doing was to "intimidate voters with whom they did not agree." He also said he overheard one of the men tell a white poll watcher: "You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker."

He called their conduct an "outrageous affront to American democracy and the rights of voters to participate in an election without fear." He said it was a "racially motivated effort to limit both poll watchers aiding voters, as well as voters with whom the men did not agree."

Mr. Jackson was an elected member of Philadelphia's 14th Ward Democratic Committee, and was credentialed to be at the polling place last Nov. 4 as an official Democratic Party polling observer, according to the Philadelphia City Commissioner's Office.

The complaint said that the three men were deployed at the entrance to a Philadelphia polling location wearing the uniform of the New Black Panther Party and that King Samir Shabazz repeatedly brandished a police-style nightstick with a contoured grip and wrist lanyard.

According to the complaint, Malik Zulu Shabazz, a Howard University Law School graduate, said the placement of King Samir Shabazz and Mr. Jackson in Philadelphia was part of a nationwide effort to deploy New Black Panther Party members at polling locations on Election Day.
Naturally, the right-wingers are howling mad, and swear that between this incident and the ACORN voter registration fraud, clearly Obama had some extra help getting elected.

Sorry GOP, we don't believe you. If this was somehow a widespread, systematic nationwide effort to suppress the McCain vote, then why, in this era of advanced technology, was no other incident brought to light? Did a single person in Philadelphia not vote as a result of these two overdressed bamas? Is there any evidence that one of these guys called someone a "cracker"? Do Black people even use the word "cracker" anymore? What is this, 1978? I know a canard when I see one. And this my friends, is a canard. That's why Attorney General Eric Holder took this case and dropped it like it's hot.

It's funny how voter intimidation/fraud is only a problem when the home team takes an "L". And since we're on the topic, how come Conservatives are begrudging these fine young men the ability to bear arms (in this case, what appears to be a billy club)? They apparently thought enough of folks right to protect themselves that they successfully rigged recent credit card legislation with a rider allowing guns in national parks. Cause, you know, credit card reform and packing a glock at Yellowstone go hand in hand.

Wiggas please.

I'd be the last one to defend the "New Black Panthers", a group that I find generally annoying and hopelessly trapped in the past. But claiming that Obama needed their help to win the election, with no proof of such, and claiming that Eric Holder pulled some unethical strings to get them off is just silly.

Just take your loss like a man, and keep it movin'.

Question: Were the New Black Panthers legitimately "intimidating" voters, or is this just typical Conservative fear mongering?

Career lawyers overruled on voting case [NYTimes]

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