When I first discovered that the Justice Department did not criminally prosecute Black Panther Party members for voter intimidation at the polls, I was appalled. It was even more fascinating to hear J. Christian Adams’ (ex - Justice Department official) testimony before the US Commission on Civil Rights last Tuesday. He declared very clearly that “over and over again” the department had shown “hostility” toward cases that involved black defendants and white victims, favoring the defendants. He went on to say, “We abetted wrongdoing and abandoned law-abiding citizens.” In other words, Adams was blowing the whistle on a strange kind of reverse racism.
What happened to Attorney General Eric Holder’s statements that he was going to pursue civil rights? Didn’t Holder call us a “nation of cowards” for failing to protect the rights of all Americans? In light of the Justice Department’s recent actions, Holder’s words ring hollow and partisan. His team seems to be applying the rule of law selectively according to his ideology, instead of objectively. This is not the dream that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. espoused. He did not want to change positions with whites - allowing blacks to become oppressors in selected jurisdictions. Instead King argued that all the rights and privileges of the constitution should apply to all Americans - regardless of color or creed.
As these thoughts were whirring through my mind, another sign of the Justice Department’s imbalance occurred. On Tuesday July 6, Robert Gibbs made a startling confession. He could not explain why the Justice Department would bring a lawsuit against the State of Arizona (claiming that their most recent immigration laws attempt to supplant current federal law), while allowing the self-proclaimed “Sanctuary Cities” to function without challenge. He told the reporter who asked the question, “I’ll have to get back to you.”
As you may remember, the Sanctuary City term refers to municipalities that refuse to use municipal funds or resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Typically they forbid municipal employees or police to inquire about one’s immigration status. Therefore, undocumented aliens are free to maintain their lives without fear of arrest despite their violation of federal laws. Just like the Black Panther case, in the name of creating justice, good laws being are ignored.
Let’s circle back to the details of the New Black Panther case and its history for a moment. The Justice Department abandoned the New Black Panther Party case last year, after winning a default judgment in federal court in April due to Black Panther members’ failure to appear. The charges against the Panthers stemmed from an incident on Election Day in 2008 in Philadelphia. Party members were videotaped in front of a polling place, while dressed in military-style uniforms and allegedly hurling racial slurs at voters. One of them even went so far as to carry a nightstick. The Holder Justice Department moved to dismiss the charges the following month after getting one of the New Black Panther members to agree not carry a “deadly weapon” anywhere near a polling place until 2012.
This group has a history of aggression. During the late 1960s, this group was involved in a series of violent confrontations with the police and numerous court cases. One of the most famous trials was that of Huey Newton for killing a policeman in 1967. In addition, Bobby Seale, one of the “Chicago Eight” was charged and convicted of conspiracy to violently disrupt the Democratic National Convention of 1968 (conviction later overturned).
The Black Panther ideology of hate is at the very roots of the organization. For example, two of its leaders, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, who led the Black Panthers from 1993-2001, and Malik Zulu Shabazz, his successor, have made numerous anti-Semitic statements. They have spoken hatefully, laying the issues of the Holocaust, slavery, and even September 11th events at the Jews’ feet. The Party holds to a conspiracy theory that states that 4000 Jews called in “sick” that day as they had advance knowledge of the attacks.
In 2007, New Black Panther Party leader, Shabazz, was interviewed on the O’Reilly Factor program by Michelle Malkin. In the wake of the Duke University Lacrosse bogus rape case, Shabazz had protested at the university and during multiple interviews, demanding that the three players be convicted. In his interview with Malkin, Shabazz showed his dissatisfaction with the outcome of the trial. He stated that the players were exonerated because of pressure applied by the rich white community. He refused to apologize for his incendiary statements made during the trial. He went on to accuse Malkin of becoming a “political prostitute for a racist like Bill O’Reilly.”
What does the original Black Panther Party think about the New Black Panthers? Several members of the original group as well as members of the Huey P. Newton Foundation (named after the co-founder of the original party) have registered their repugnance of the new movement. The Newton Foundation released a statement, which denounced the new party, stating that the new group took on the name of “Black Panthers” when they had failed “to find its own legitimacy in the black community.”
If the original members are denouncing the New Black Panther Party, why should the Justice Department give them acknowledgement and even, favor? Eric Holder needs to uphold the justice he has sworn to maintain. This justice is in the best interests for all the people - both black and white. So, let freedom ring from Philadelphia to Phoenix, from our Canadian borders to our Mexican borders, from New York to Los Angeles, and everyone in between. So, let freedom ring!
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
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