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  • The New Black Panther Party Evidence on Voter Intimidation

    Andy McCarthy has an important story over at National Review Online that does an outstanding job of demolishing many of the myths being propagated about the New Black Panther voter intimidation case. It is important, however, to highlight some specific testimony on one of those myths. One of the constant refrains heard from liberals in their attempt to diminish the importance of the New Black Panther scandal is that there is no evidence that any voters were intimidated or prevented from voting.That claim is patently false although it was repeated last night again by Abigail Thernstrom on NBC News.

    For anyone who bothers to actually look at the record, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights received direct evidence on that very issue. Those critics also miss the point that it is a crime to attempt to intimidate voters and anyone assisting voters, which would include poll watchers, and no one watching the videotape could come to any conclusion other than the New Black Panthers were trying to intimidate people at that poll in Philadelphia.

    On the issue of poll watchers, one of the witnesses at the first hearing of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Chris Hill, testified on that specific point and what happened when he got to the polling place. He was responding to a desperate phone call for help from one of the two black poll watchers who were stationed at the polling place:

    HILL: [Shabazz] immediately started with ‘What are you doing here, Cracker?’ And he and Mr. Jackson attempted to close ranks. I went straight between them through the door to find our poll watcher, who was inside the building at the time…he was pretty shaken up…he was visibly upset.

    QUESTION: What did he tell you?

    HILL: He was called a race traitor for being a poll watcher, credentialed poll watcher for the Republican Party as a black man, and that he was threatened if he stepped outside of the building, there would be hell to pay.

    So there is witness testimony that both Black Panthers, including the one who was dismissed by the Justice Department, were physically threatening a poll watcher. And the witnesses made it clear that the two Black Panthers acted as a team, in concert, at the polling place.

    On the issue of voters, Hill testified as follows:

    QUESTION: How were third parties reacting to the presence and the actions of the Panther members?

    HILL: People were put off when – there were a couple of people that walked up, a couple of people that drove up, and they would come to a screeching halt because it’s not something you expect to see in front of a polling place. As I was standing on the corner, I had two older ladies and an older gentleman stop right next to me, ask what was going on. I said, ‘Truthfully, we don’t really know. All we know is there’s two Black Panthers here.’ And the lady said, ‘Well, we’ll just come back.’ And so, they walked away.

    Of course, no one knows if those voters ever came back – but we know for sure that they left without voting when Hill was there rather than try to get by the New Black Panthers. What is so odd about this is that Hill was then questioned about that testimony by Commissioner Abby Thernstrom, who has been one of the persons claiming there is no evidence that voters were kept from voting:

    THERNSTROM: But otherwise, did you see anybody at the polling place who obviously intended to vote, and didn’t end up voting because of the presence of the New Black Panther Party members?

    HILL: It was two women and a gentleman….They stopped right at the corner of the driveway, circular drive, where I was standing on the phone, and they said, ‘What’s going on?’ Truthfully, I didn’t really have a good answer for them…But at that exact moment in time, those people were not going near that doorway, and ma’am, I’m not as well versed as you are in these civil rights issues, but they were intimidated.

    Bartle Bull, one of the other poll watchers who came to the precinct after the black poll watchers who were stationed there reported they had been threatened, testified on this point also:

    BULL: One of them was waving a baton like that, slapping against his hand, pointing at people. And several people – I was more or less at the end of the driveway, and several people began to walk up the driveways, saw these guys, and then went back and didn’t go on to vote.

    QUESTION: Did the individuals that you saw turn around, those were people that you believed were coming to vote?

    BULL: Oh, yes, yes. That’s the only reason you walk along that long block on the pavement, and then go in the long driveway. And several walked in, saw this at the door, and walked back out the drive.

    Keep in mind that Bull and Hill were only at the polling place for about an hour, and in that short amount of time they saw several people turn around and leave rather than run the thug gauntlet set up at the front door to the polling place. And there is no question that the poll watchers stationed inside the precinct were terrified because of the threats that had been made against them by the New Black Panthers.

    So why haven’t any witnesses who were actual voters come forward? I talked to Chris Hill after his testimony before the Civil Rights Commission. As someone who knows Philadelphia and that neighborhood where these New Black Panthers live, he said that if he lived there he would be probably be too scared to come forward with testimony that crossed the NBPP. In short, intimidated voters often stay intimidated

    It is time, once and for all, for critics of this case to stop claiming there is no evidence of intimidation – the evidence is there in the record for anyone who bothers to actually look for it. And it is not even necessary to win a case for attempted intimidation – and no one can rationally claim there was not an attempt to intimidate. Don’t forget a crucial point that keeps getting missed – the New Black Panthers never contested any of these charges.

    After she heard Hill’s testimony, Commissioner Thernstrom admitted that those people “were intimidated…I mean I take seriously when anybody is intimidated, and I’m not dismissing that experience of theirs…but nevertheless, it seems to me the case of the New Black Panther Party actually blocking people from voting would be stronger if there were more than three people that we’re talking about here.”

    Really? So how many people have to be intimidated and prevented from voting before it becomes a “serious” case? How many poll watchers have to be threatened before it becomes a “serious” case? I have great respect for Commissioner Thernstrom but she is quite simply wrong about this case, about the evidence presented, and about the law that applies.

    The only people who don’t think this was a serious case of voter intimidation seem to be apologists for the administration who want to sweep this case under the table and make excuses for the inexcusable conduct of the political appointees who are running the Civil Rights Division and the Justice Department.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to The New Black Panther Party Evidence on Voter Intimidation

    1. Eddie says:

      Poor Abby Thernstrom. What a shame for it to all end like this after a distinguised career. One cannot mangle facts as badly as she has and expect to be considered credible in other areas of her scholarship. A sad sad end to an otherwise noteworthy career.

    2. June, Los Angeles says:

      I am a tough as nails criminal prosecutor who considers himself extremely conservative when it comes to law and order matters. I have heard so much about this voter intimidation case, I decided to take a second, watch the video and make my own assesment.

      I, unfortunately, agree that this case is only strong against the idiot with the stick. Look, the other guy is standing outside a polling place. Without a stick or a weapon, he's just an idiot standing outside a polling place. The fact that he's a big black man doesn't make him guilty of intimidation just by standing there. No case at all. It's not illegal to be stupid and big and ugly. And if that case was filed by anyone in the justice department is was filed without probable cause. I've tried over a hundred trials and there is no chance of conviction. . . .

      As to the idiot with the stick. I'm hearing from the tape and from the testimony you describe above that he has a problem with the polling place monitors and threatened them. That sounds like a great case for posession of a deadly weapon, maybe even a case for terrorist threats (the legal term for a threatening statement with the ability to carry it out). But as for intimidating voters, polling station workers are not voters. The state crimes connected with carrying a deadly weapon in public seem to apply perfectly but for voter intimidation, you need an actual voter. Third hand testimony (that potential voters drove off) can't figure into the analysis because saying you saw a voter leave is inadmissible speculation. In court, a witness can't testify as to why someone did something. That's a matter "not within the witness's knowledge" and even if they heard a statement it would be "inadmissible hearsay."

      So, no one could testiy to the person's state of mind "that he or she left because they were afraid" except the actual voter. And no voters filed complaints. Not a single one. It would be like trying to prosecute a theft without a property owner to say his property was stolen. It's just not possible. So how could you prove and win a voter intimidation case without any actual voters saying he or she was intimidated.

      This was a horrible case and gettign the injunction against the stick carrying idiot was probably the most the government could get in the form of an injunction. I'm not sure what I'm missing. But as a prosecutor, I need probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that starts with a complaint by a victim. And often time when we don't receive a complaint by a victim that's a good sign there were no victims. Take the stick from the idiot, ban him from any mroe polling places and let's all get back to our lives. There's nothing to see here.

      • Vern Ca says:

        This is a good reason,that alot of voters are voting absentee these day? Maybe that is one solution for alot of voters who feel intimadated. Once alot of voters catch on to this alternate method of voting,it will no longer be effective for Obama's goons to stand around the polls and intimate potentail voters. I think Obama is only doing himself a disservice,resorting to these tactics.

      • allen moore says:

        so can I legally go stand up there in Nov. with a pistol in my hand?

    3. Rich, Georgia says:

      The Bush DOJ declined to file criminal charges against three New Black Panther members, including its leader, for voter intimidation. It did file a civil action. It obtained default judgments against all three. There was never a trial or evidentiary hearing to prove the allegations. They were technically admitted by the default. The Obama DOJ then pursued a final judgment and injunction against the one New Black Panther clearly engaged in threatning actvity. It declined to pursue injunctions against the other two citing a lack of actual evidence to support the technically admitted charges.

      In my opinion, the tacts taken by both administrations appears quite reasonable considering the circumstances of the case. There was never any evidence of a widespread effort by the New Black Panther Party itself to conduct a voter intimidation campaign. There was no evidence of a national or regional plan or order. The charge against the leader appears to have been a stretch without substantive evidence, only allegations. The incident appears to have been an isolated effort by two New Black Panther members in a predominately black voting district. There were no other reported incidences nationwide. As to the seriousness of the actual incident, it is clear that at least one of the persons acted overtly in a manner that justified prosecution. The fact that there were no actual complaints filed of voter intimidation indicates that the effort was not very intimidating.

      The incident shouldn't have been overlooked. It wasn't. However, it wasn't a major effort or conspiracy by a fringe racial group to intimidate voters.

    4. Eddie says:

      June is no more a prosecutor than my poodle is. He is mixing civil and criminal terminology. He also doesn't realize the video wasn't the only evidence. Real lawyers don't make such dumb statements.

    5. Pingback: Lather or Rinse, Repeat As Necessary

    6. Ruth Williams, Minne says:

      Our nation is under attack from within. People are afraid to step up to the plate because of political bullies. And that appears to come from the White House on down. When are people going to be honest. When is integrity going to matter again. When prayer became politically incorrect our troubles began. Does anyone see that yet?

    7. bill d. gholson sr.- says:

      On the voting issue,–If this situation was to happen to me I would leave the voting station and not vote for a few minutes. I would go home and get protection

      as the black panthers had. I can promise that I would vote then. I would gauantee

      you that the panthers would not stop another person from voting. The bodies

      would have to be removed before voting could be continued.

    8. Pingback: Naming Names – Ads in the Voting Booth! |

    9. @JanSimpson says:

      Nice article – so shall we all begin to bring guns to the voting polls to keep ourselves safe?

      • Wes says:

        Bringing pistols to a polling place would be less intimidating since it's illegal to wave those around and point them at people.

    10. William says:

      Let us try to guess which parties are liars. We have a man, a member of the New Black Panthers, an appointed poll watcher. He is on post from the beginning of the polling period to that time when he is lifted by the police and removed. He is accompanied by another member of the NBP who has a baton in hand. Now, a videographer with a desire for monetary gain takes images even as several people speak roughly to him. Neither NBP member speaks a word to him. But others do, even onto profane words. And then we have words of conviction from Bartle Bull, who is present for one hour or less and who has no known connection to the polling place. He speaks of people who do not appear on film, who do not complain, who are unknown and determines that they have been intimidated. Proof? Well, none is presented. That is why the criminal issue is withdrawn and why the civil issue is muted: justice was made to take an egg in the face, and by that exemplary human, Bartle Bull.

    11. SearchForTruth says:

      I wonder if a White person had been in uniform with a baton, what would the reaction be?

    12. Vern Ca says:

      The solution to this problem for voter's who have felt intimated,by these thugs,is to either call the poilce and make a former complaintand request they check these thugs out to find out if they are properly liceced and contracted by the polling place for security purpose's,and they are properly trained and certified to carry any baton or weapon,and if not demand they be arrested? I do not know what the state Laws are in Pennsulvaina regarding the carrying and use of a baton,firearm are? But in California,anyone carrying a baton without a proper certifition can be arrested and charged with a felony. That should be the law in Pennsulvaina and throughtout the US?
      The Poliing places could get a stay away order fom a local judge on election day as a good solution and voters could contact thier local city officails,including thier Mayor and demand such an action. nother solution would be to vote Absentee,and avoid going to the polls if they feel,that Intimated and afraid?

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