May 28th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
13 years ago

Justice Department drops charges in voter intimidation case

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)

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Keith in Austin

    Eric Holder is taking care of his Bros while Obama looks the other way. Brilliant! I guess it's curtains here in Crackerville.

    May 28, 2009 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  2. Pat, CA

    What about ACORN and "the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote." Guess because ACORN "delivered" for Obama they're "off limits"? What a despicable sham Obama and ACORN are !!!!!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  3. No Incumbents 2010

    Look out ACORN, you might not be necessary in the future.

    May 28, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. anton

    It's all about the color of the skin

    May 28, 2009 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. Greg from Philly

    What they did not tell you is that these gentlemen are homeless men who claim to represent the NBP party which really does not exist. Our local newspaper ran a story on this guy and he is totally nuts..Come on CNN do your homework..

    May 28, 2009 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. educated

    What about the robo calls in texas telling people to vote on wednesday. This guy was an idiot. But they also aren't going after the "god-fearing" people in texas who had an organised effort to mislead thousands.

    May 28, 2009 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  7. Carl

    HOPE al this CHANGE is what you idiots voted for. This is not the same country I grew up in. Thanks to all them MTV college idiots voting to "rock the vote" ! Hope you enjoy graduating and using that diploma to work at Burger King flipping burgers you morons !

    May 28, 2009 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  8. Eric

    Nobody should be loitering outside any polling place period. The only intent possible is to be seen as a member of a group and that IS a form of intimidation. Admitting it was the intent to be seen at as many places as possible eventually will enable a message to be sent that we are everywhere and we see who you are too. Justice is low on IQ or high on power to the panthers.

    May 28, 2009 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  9. lkb

    No surprise here...anything goes to get Obama elected.

    May 28, 2009 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  10. skyhawkdriver

    Wow..what a shock..the justice department of a 1/2 black president sets free members of the so called new black panthers for intimidating voters..this is right up acorns alley..and I bet they are all dimwitocrats also..another shining example of change we can believe in

    May 29, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  11. joe

    wonder if a couple klansmen were standing outside a voting place trying to intimidate people if the case would be dropped against them. . i'd say not.

    May 29, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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