By Michael P. Tremoglie
Tremoglie's Tea Time Blog
The United States Commission on Civil Rights (CRC) announced that it will hold a public hearing on February 12, 2010, regarding the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. Its purpose is to collect information within the jurisdiction of the Commission related particularly to the Department of Justice's actions in the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) and enforcement of Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act.
The CRC wants to know the reason the DOJ dismissed voter intimidation charges in May against members of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) after they had already won a default judgment in the civil suit filed in January.
Two members of the New Black Panther Party, one armed with a nightstick, stood outside a poll on Fairmount Avenue in North Philadelphia. According to some who were present, they made racial slurs and intimidating gestures. Police were called and the two, Jerry Jackson and Minister King Samir Shabazz were questioned.
Mr. Shabazz, the person carrying the nightstick, was removed from the scene. Mr. Jackson, who is a member of the Democratic Party's 14th Ward Committee and is a credentialed poll watcher and he was allowed to remain. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s office did not file criminal charges.
The incident was filmed by a University of Pennsylvania student affiliated with Electionjournal.org and Fox News Channel. The videos can be seen on youtube.com. Electionjournal.org, according to their website, is "an online community dedicated to raising public awareness of vote fraud and election irregularities.... (ABC News') Jake Tapper called Election Journal “an organic melange of media, citizenry, community and watchdog."
One of the witnesses will be Chris Hill, a Republican poll watcher. He told The Bulletin that one of the Republican poll watchers felt intimidated.
“He was inside the building and he refused to stand outside with the two New Black Panthers,” he said.
There will be other witnesses who can testify to the facts of the case. Also a video of the incident will be shown.
One person’s testimony which has been sought is that of J. Christian Adams the career Civil Rights Division prosecutor who compiled the voter intimidation case against the NBPP will testify. It is not known if Mr. Adams will testify. Allegations have been made that there were political motivations in dismissing the case. It is felt Mr. Adams could verify or disprove this.
The DOJ has taken the unusual step of instructing its people not comply with subpoenas issued by the Commission. A memo by DOJ to CRC General Counsel David Blackwood said it objects to the questions asked.
The DOJ has repeatedly refused to provide information requested about this case not only by the CRC, but by Congressman Frank Wolf ( R-Va.), as well as, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Tx.). Mr. Wolf sent a letter January 26 to Glenn Fine the DOJ Inspector General.
He said, “I have been disappointed by your reluctance to investigate the unfounded dismissal of an important voter intimidation case, U.S. v. New Black Panther Party. As you may recall, this case was inexplicably dismissed last year -- over the ardent objections of the career attorneys overseeing the case as well as the division’s own appeal office. Despite repeated requests for information by members of Congress, the press, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to stonewall all efforts to obtain information regarding the case’s abrupt dismissal. This obstruction should be of great concern to you and merit an immediate investigation.”
Mr. Wolf will appear at the hearing, which will be held at 624 9th St., N.W. Room 540, Washington, DC 20425. It is open to the public and the media.