Conservative Hysteria Over New Black Panther Party

Yet another bogus conservative meme surfacing recently has been about a New Black Panther Party practicing voter intimidation. Jonathan Chait looked at the claims yesterday:

What you’re starting to see from Fox News now, though, is the most widespread and mainstream right-wing effort to exploit racial fears against Obama. The putative issue is the claim that the Obama Justice Department is failing to prosecute a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. If you’re interested in the merits of the case, which are extremely flimsy, a good rundown can be found at Fourth Branch. Even if the conservative interpretation of this event were actually true, it’s obviously a tiny matter. Nobody has produced a voter who even claims to have been intimidated — the voters at the polling station were virtually all black anyway — nor is there any credible claim of anything remotely approaching a systematic attempt to intimidate white voters at the polls.

The story fit well into the narrative coming from Tea Party rallies, right wing talk radio, and Fox:

At a recent town hall meeting, conservative protesters exploded with rage when Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman denied that Obama’s Justice Department has a policy of never prosecuting African-Americans. There has been a great deal of right-wing insanity unleashed over the last year and a half, but this is the first time that the fear has an explicitly racial cast. You now have the largest organ of movement conservatism promoting Limbaugh’s idee fixe that the Obama administration represents black America’s historical revenge against whites.

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  1. 1
    Captin Sarcastic says:

    I dug into this recently and read the entirety of the minutes of the voting rights committee as they grilled Perez.

    The facts show this issue to be another in a long line of false representations of facts that conservatives will believe without question.

    The bullet points:

    Two black men standing in front of a precinct of almost 100% black voters were dressed in paramilitary looking attire, one of them brandishing a nightstick.  There were reports of racist comments by the black men, but zero reports of voters indicating they felt intimidated. A Republican poll watcher filmed the man with a cell phone camera and suggested they appeared intimidating. The police were called, and the man with the nightstick was removed from the premises while the other man, a registered poll watcher, was alloed to stay. This had all happened within the first 30 minutes of voting.

    Based on the video, the Bush DOJ reviewed the case and determined there was no evidence for a criminal charge but decided to pursue civil charges under Section 11b of the Voting Rights Act, which offers very limited damages as a matter of law. The defendants at that time included 4 individuals and the New Black Panthers. Two of the individuals were not present or accused of any specific action, but were included as part of the larger charge against the Black Panthers.

    The Black Panthers indicated they were going to have poll watchers at 300 Precincts, and this was the basis of their inclusion in the civil charges.

    The Black Panthers disavowed the actions of the billy club armed member and there were zero reports of any attempted or completed acts of voter intimidation at ANY of the other precincts where Black Panther members were present.

    Based on this information, the charges against the group as whole, and the individuals who were involved with the group, but not brandishing weapons were dropped.

    The maximum civil penatly based on 11b was applied to the armed mand, and the DOJ said, “We were successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again,”

    Case closed.

    If there were any evidence that the Black Panthers as a group intended voter intimidation, they could have been barred as a group, but the FACT that there was no evidence of ANY voter intimidation by members of this group at ANY other polling station, and that the group disavowed the action of this individual, clearly undermines any case that would attempt to prove that there was an effort by the group to intimidate voters.

    But once again, innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply when conservatives have made the case against hundreds of people and entire organization based on seconds of video of one person with a nightstick.

    Anyone with any curiosity about this can easily learn the truth, and conservatives who want to believe that Obama won’t prosecute blacks will not be swayed from that point of view even if Obama kicked Desmond Tutu, Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson to death in a Rose Garden UFC match. But I suppose they might enjoy it.

  2. 2
    MIP on SIR146/XM167 says:

    (Laura) The new talking point, I have seen it in about every comment on every blog and article….THE NEW BLACK…

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