The Corner

More Confusion on the New Black Panther Case

On last night’s NBC news, two significant inaccuracies regarding the New Black Panther Party (“NBPP”) matter were reported. First, my U.S. Commission on Civil Rights colleague Abigail Thernstrom flatly states in her NBC interview that there is no evidence of voter intimidation. This is false: Uncontroverted sworn testimony before the Commission shows that voters expressed alarm and fear regarding the presence of NBPP members stationed at the polling place and that voters did, in fact, turn away. Thernstrom was present during such testimony, and has access to documentary evidence confirming the intimidation.

Second, Thernstrom advises those concerned about the NBPP matter to “get a grip” — this perpetuates the narrative that the NBPP investigation is confined to the question of why the Department of Justice dropped the bulk of that particular voter-intimidation case after there had been an entry of default against defendants. In fact, the Commission investigation now encompasses three much larger issues (though, as Andy McCarthy points out, the voter-intimidation issue is still serious):

1. Whether high-level political appointees within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have enunciated a policy or tolerate a practice of enforcing civil-rights laws in a racially discriminatory manner;

2. Whether high-level political appointees within the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice have enunciated a policy or tolerate a practice of not enforcing Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act; and

3. Whether there is pervasive hostility within the ranks of the Civil Rights Division toward enforcing the nation’s civil-rights laws in a color-blind manner.

The Commission’s investigation is ongoing, but uncontroverted evidence adduced before the Commission shows that the answer to the three questions above is yes. Thernstrom has concluded that the matter is “very small potatoes”; the Commission is scheduled to issue its report to congress and the president in the next few months, when members of the public will be able to make their own assessments.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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