Civil Rights

New Black Panther dismissal is sleeper issue for 2010 midterms

Following the irrefutable evidence caught on film of voter intimidation, the
Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against three individuals and the Black
Panther Party itself for violating Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act — which
prohibits intimidation, threats and coercion. When none of the named defendants
nor the New Black Panther Party showed up for trial in April 2009, a default
judgment was entered in favor of the government.

Here’s where things get interesting. After the government had won its case in
the absence of the defense to present itself, the Department of Justice
abruptly changed course and sought to voluntarily dismiss the charges against
three of the defendants while giving a slap on the hand to another by telling
him that he was not able to go to Philadelphia polling stations through the
2012 elections. The big question as to why the Department of Justice would drop
the charges on a clear-cut case of voter intimidation startled many; in today’s
commission hearing, I think we found the answer that had so far been elusive.

In emotional testimony, J. Christian Adams, until last week a member of the DoJ’s
Voting Section — he resigned in protest over the department’s handling of the
case — told a stunned hearing room why he felt the case had been dropped. In no
uncertain terms, Adams noted that senior officials within the Obama Justice
Department had told employees that they were not to bring voting-rights cases
where the alleged victim in the case was white. In other words, white
transgressor and black victim, bring it on. Black transgressor and white
victim? Forget about it.

I will let Adams speak for himself; his words were electric and disturbing. Long
ignored by the traditional media, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets have begun to question the Obama administration
about its apparent inability to adjudicate justice blind of race or ideology. If
Adams’s claim that the Department of Justice has instructed officials to ignore
cases in which blacks victimize whites to focus on white-on-black cases, this
will be the sleeper issue that could explode to toss the Democrats out of
office in 2010 and 2012.

Americans have struggled with issues of race and equality since our founding. If
America’s first black president and attorney general have been found to
selectively prosecute members of one race while ignoring members of another
based strictly on the color of skin rather than the color of law, they will
have foolishly fanned the flames of racial suspicion while tarnishing the
legacy of civil rights pioneers who sought a color-blind society.
It is time for the Department of Justice to fully account for its failure to
prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party for their apparent crimes. Would
the Obama administration recklessly use the force and weight of our scales of
justice to charge whites while providing a free pass to blacks for committing
the same offense to score political points? Let us all hope and pray the answer
is no while the evidence before us indicates another answer to the question.

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