Back in November, a couple of New Black Panther Party members got all gussied up, grabbed their nightsticks and went out to a polling place in Philadelphia. While they were there, they allegedly tried to intimidate the voters and witnessed quoted them as saying, “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!”
Here’s video of the two, including video of the billy club:
I would say that’s voter intimidation. So did the Justice Department. At least under Bush it did. John Fund has the rest of the story:
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. Against the third defendant, Minister King Samir Shabazz, it sought only an injunction barring him from displaying a weapon within 100 feet of a Philadelphia polling place for the next three years—action that’s already illegal under existing law.
So, why did they just let it go? No one really knows. But there is still action being taken:
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted on Aug. 7 to send a letter to Justice expanding its own investigation and demanding more complete answers. “We believe the Department’s defense of its actions thus far undermines respect for rule of law,” its letter stated. It noted “the peculiar logic” of one Justice argument, that defendants’ failure to show up in court was a reason for dismissing the case: “Such an argument sends a perverse message to wrongdoers—that attempts at voter suppression will be tolerated so long as the persons who engage in them are careful not to appear in court to answer the government’s complaint.”
The commission noted that it could subpoena witnesses and documents if Justice doesn’t better explain its actions.
I would like to hear why this was just dropped, but I get the feeling the Justice Department’s response would be similar to me eating a small McDonald’s Sundae: it’s nice to have, but not really that satisfying.