WASHINGTON (CNN) – The Justice Department is dropping charges against the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and two of its members who were allegedly involved in voter intimidation on Election Day at a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania polling station.
A Justice spokesman said the department decided to take this action after winning an injunction earlier this month against a third member, Samir Shabazz, that prevents him from ever brandishing a weapon outside a polling place again as he was charged with doing last November.
Shabazz was one of the three persons, along with the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, charged with voter intimidation last January in a lawsuit filed under the Voting Rights Act. Shabazz will not face any jail time or a fine.
“Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law,” DOJ spokesman Alejandro Miyar said in a statement. “The Department is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote."
On Election Day, two men in uniforms stood outside the polling station with one of them holding a police-style baton weapon and saying he was providing security there. Justice has alleged that person was Shabazz.
In January, Justice said in a criminal complaint that the chairman of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense confirmed its members were stationed at that location as part of a nationwide effort to deploy people at polling stations.
The Justice Department says The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense is distinct from the well-known Black Panther Party of the 1960's.
UPDATE: Malik Shabaaz, chairman of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, told CNN Friday that Samir Shabaaz is no longer a member of the organization, and that his organization does not support voter intimidation.
"We want to thank President Obama and his administration for dropping charges against us that were vindictively brought by the Bush administration," Malik Shabaaz told CNN. "We don't condone any type of illegal activity at polling stations."
Shabaaz said the members in Pennsylvania were not acting under the direction of the national party.
(Updated at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, May 29 with New Black Panther Party response)