Remember the New Black Panthers voter intimidation story?
President Obama’s Justice Department continues to stonewall inquiries about why it dropped a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.
The episode—which Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer and publisher of the left-wing Village Voice, calls “the most blatant form of voter intimidation I’ve ever seen”—began on Election Day 2008. Mr. Bull and others witnessed two Black Panthers in paramilitary garb at a polling place near downtown Philadelphia. (Some of this behavior is on YouTube.)
One of them, they say, brandished a nightstick at the entrance and pointed it at voters and both made racial threats. Mr. Bull says he heard one yell “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!”
In the first week of January, the Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party and three of its members, saying they violated the 1965 Voting Rights Act by scaring voters with the weapon, uniforms and racial slurs. In March, Mr. Bull submitted an affidavit at Justice’s request to support its lawsuit.
When none of the defendants filed any response to the complaint or appeared in federal district court in Philadelphia to answer the suit, it appeared almost certain Justice would have prevailed by default. Instead, the department in May suddenly allowed the party and two of the three defendants to walk away.
Well, an investigation just completed, and now we have the facts on why the charges were dropped by the Obama administration.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights came out in December with a draft of its interim report on the New Black Panthers Party scandal. Earlier today a final report was posted on the commission’s website, and with it, a flurry of rebuttals and separate statements from a number of the commissioners. The import of these statements should not be minimized.
The statements indicate several points: 1) the New Black Panther Party case brought by career Justice Department employees was meritorious on the law and the facts; 2) there is voluminous evidence of the Obama administration’s political interference in the prosecution of the New Black Panther Party case; 3) there is ample evidence that the Obama administration directed Justice Department employees not to bring cases against minority defendants who violated voting rights laws or to enforce a provision requiring that states and localities clean up their voting rolls to prevent fraud; 4) the Justice Department stonewalled efforts to investigate the case; and 5) vice chairman Abigail Thernstrom has, for reasons not entirely clear, ignored the evidence and tried to undermine the commission’s work.
The rest of the article has specific comments from the investigators of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.