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)
Shabazz – just that last name and you know trouble is around the corner.
Yep, they gotta let them go free -obama may need their services again in 2012.
OK I"m going to agree with what the right wingers are going to say.
HOw is getting an injunction against brandishing a weapon outside a polling place a "win"?
Groups like this give us all a bad name. There should have been much more severe punishments for this behavior.
Eric Holder (African American) drops case against the New Black Panther Party....
Just proves Eric Holder is a coward. He is afraid of prosecuting someone of color.
Eric Holder got to someone to support his bro.
Um...hmm, so now the one guy's not allowed to do something that was illegal in the first place?
Yeah, they sure took care of that problem.....
Guess they accomplished what they set out to do intimidate people.
Black Panthers, hmmm..... Barack Obama...... Michelle Obama...... Hmm, I wonder why the charges were dropped against BLACK Panthers. Hope Grey Panthers get the same deal. Ain't that right Rev. Wright.....
What a crock!!! Is this that new world order? Someone "brandishes" a weapon in order to intimidate people into voting a certain way, and the punishment is to tell them not to do it again? Further proof this country is going to hell in a hand basket!
Is this a joke?? Dropping the charges – is that political payback for the intimidation?
@rachel May 28th, 2009 7:57 pm ET
Guess they accomplished what they set out to do intimidate people
Shut Your sour Puss!!!
Another victory for totalitarianism in the USA. That's change that Obama is really delivering on.
Where is the Justice in America these days.
What has become of our country?
Send him to jail and get the guns off the street! BAN HANDGUNS.
I guess it's all in the way you spin things.
What do you expect from our Black AG. His plans are to settle scores with White folk. Blacks will get a free ride from the Justice Dept the next 4 years. So all us Blacks have 4 years to settle any injustice you think may have happened over the last 233 years.
Super job. Love our new AG.
Uh, excuse me but wasn't it then and isn't it now already Illegal to "brandish" a weapon. Just what sanction did the Justice department impose that wasn't already there? Oh, never mind these were New Black Panther Members. Sure hope one would brandish a weapon towards me sometime. Nuff said.
Oh please, if it was a white man then the blacks would outraged screaming for his head. People seem to forget that OBAMA is 1/2 WHITE.
This is yet another sickening day in Mr. Obama's term. How racist can we get when we let this happen?
The question is, why was the Justice Department picking on the Black Panthers in the first place, when ALL they where doing was inimidating people at gunpoint while attempting to vote.
It's good to know the Black Panthers are still in action. I wish them all the best. Keep those whities in check.
Seems that Eric "Nation of Cowards" Holder has his own racist predispositions. I'm sure he would have acted very differently if it'd been white men brandishing those firearms and intimidating voters. But since the offenders were African-American, he sees nothing wrong with their terrorist acts.
Typical liberal hypocritical conduct. (I know, I know...redundant.)
In other news, charges against Charles Manson were dropped because he promised never to do it again.