I’ve been to numerous hearings held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights — but never before to one where there were armed security guards.
But then, it has been decades since the commission held a hearing about the threats and intimidation carried out by an organization that the Anti-Defamation League categorizes as a hate group — in this case, the New Black Panther Party.
On Friday, April 23, the commission finally held its long-delayed hearing on the Justice Department’s now-infamous dismissal of almost all the cases it had already won by default against three members of the NBPP and the party itself for voter intimidation in Philadelphia in the November 2008 election.
In fact, there was good reason for the security. A number of Panthers, including two of the defendants in the lawsuit the DOJ dropped (Jerry Jackson and King Samir Shabazz), marched into the hearing room in their black, fascist-style paramilitary uniforms. The very fact that the NBPP showed up in force refutes the claim made by the DOJ’s leadership that the case was dismissed because there was no evidence of coordination between the national organization and the Philadelphia chapter. Furthermore, the Panthers were handing out a press release from Malik Zulu Shabazz, the national chairman of the NBPP.
That same DOJ leadership apparently doesn’t believe the NBPP was engaging in intimidation when it sent thugs uniformed like Mussolini’s blackshirts, one with a billy club, to stand in front of the entrance to a polling place. In fact, there is nothing the New Black Panthers have ever said or done to suggest that they don’t believe what they did was intimidating to people they hate. They preach intimidation and worse.
Such intimidation continued at the hearing. In the middle of it, King Samir Shabazz, the Panther who swung the billy club on Election Day, got up, moved to the side of the hearing room slightly in front of the witnesses, and photographed the three men seated at the witness table testifying against him. These were the three men who had attempted to protect prospective voters in Philadelphia on Election Day. One later testified that he did notice his picture being taken by Shabazz. It’s hard to see any reason for taking their photographs in such a way other than to try to intimidate them. Or does an advocate of genocide just want to add pictures to his scrapbook?
The hearing started with brief opening statements from the commissioners. Then all the depositions and other evidence gathered by the commission were entered into the record. That formality revealed that when the depositions of the two Panthers who had stood in front of the polling were taken, they both refused to testify, asserting their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.