New Black Panther Party president Malik Zulu Shabazz hasn’t said much publicly about the Obama Justice Department’s dismissal last May of voter intimidation charges against his black power group, a decision that sparked conservative protests.
But last week in a podcast interview, Shabazz let loose – with a racially tinged rant against the Republicans he said are trying to turn the issue into campaign ads for this fall’s midterm elections.
“These right-wing white, red-faced, red-neck Republicans are attacking the hell out of the New Black Panther Party, and we’re organizing now to fight back,” Shabazz told the podcast host, a man who calls himself “Brother Gary” and hosts a show called Conscious Chats on Blogtalk Radio.
Shabazz singled out GOP Reps. Frank Wolf (Va.) and Lamar Smith (Texas) — two critics on the House Judiciary Committee — along with “Old Uncle Tom, Michael Steele, the black Negro who heads the Republican National Committee.”
“We gearing up for a showdown with this cracker,” Shabazz said, although it wasn’t clear to whom he was referring. “He keep talking – we going to Capitol Hill, we’re just gearing up right now, we’ll go to Capitol Hill.”
At issue is an incident at a majority-black polling place in Philadelphia in November 2008, where two members of the anti-white and anti-semitic fringe group stood in military-style garb, one of them carrying a night stick.
The Black Panther with a night stick left the premises after the police were called. The unarmed Black Panther stayed on; he held a Democratic poll watching certificate issued by the local board of elections.
A blogger hired by the local Republican Party made a video of the incident that was uploaded to YouTube. Then in January, in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration, the Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against Shabazz, his Washington, D.C.-based party, and the two New Black Panthers at the polling place, alleging voter intimidation.
No actual voters came forward to complain – the objections came from white Republican poll watchers. The suit was compiled by a Civil Rights Division lawyer named J. Christian Adams, who has a history of conservative advocacy and was hired during the Bush administration under process the DOJ Inspector General later concluded was improperly politicized.
In May, after the Black Panthers failed to contest the suit, the Barack Obama Justice Department dismissed most of the charges, obtaining an injunction against the New Black Panther member who’d carried the night stick.
But conservatives were outraged, with Reps. Wolf and Smith asking the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility to investigate whether politics played a role in the decision to dismiss the case. And now the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is dominated by conservatives, is also investigating.
In the podcast interview, Shabazz said that Republicans are trying to make it look as if the Obama administration and Attorney General Eric Holder were favoring the New Black Panther Party.
“People know that’s crazy as hell, they don’t owe us no favors,” said Shabazz. “If the Obama people thought we were their political allies, they would run in the other direction because we don’t give them no political help.”
One of the members of the party in Philadelphia, he added, “just happened to be a little too black or too strong” and “made a mistake” by bringing a weapon to the polls.
“They are beating these war drums – it’s constantly on the front page of the Washington Times [...] and I’m expecting some ads with the New Black Panther Party for midterm elections in 2010,” Shabazz said.
The relevant audio starts just before the 30-minute mark.