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Protecting the Black Panthers

Posted by Richard on July 1, 2010

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is investigating the Justice Department's dismissal of Voting Rights Act violation charges against the New Black Panthers — a dismissal that was ordered after the career attorneys at the DOJ Civil Rights Division's Voting Rights Section had already won. One of those career attorneys, J. Christian Adams, recently resigned and went public (emphasis added):

On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.

The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.

… 

The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, has testified repeatedly that the "facts and law" did not support this case. That claim is false. If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls. Let's all hope this administration has not invited that outcome through the corrupt dismissal. 

Others have falsely claimed that no voters were affected. Not only did the evidence rebut this claim, but the law does not require a successful effort to intimidate; it punishes even the attempt. 

Read the whole thing. And if you wonder about Adams' claims about the evidence and testimony, you might want to look into it. Start by reading the affidavit of Bartle Bull (PDF), an attorney poll observer at the precinct in question. It's only three pages, and well worth your time. Mr. Bull helped secure the voting rights of blacks in Mississippi in the 1960s and worked on the Bobby Kennedy and Jimmy Carter campaigns — not exactly a right-wing bigot.

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