May 28th, 2009
07:00 PM ET
11 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)

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. No Hillary = No Obama

    Shabazz – just that last name and you know trouble is around the corner.

    May 28, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  2. annie for Palin

    Yep, they gotta let them go free -obama may need their services again in 2012.

    May 28, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. Peter (CA)

    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.

    May 28, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  4. Jimmy the Greek

    Eric Holder (African American) drops case against the New Black Panther Party....

    Nooooo! Shocking!

    Just proves Eric Holder is a coward. He is afraid of prosecuting someone of color.

    May 28, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  5. DaBird

    Eric Holder got to someone to support his bro.

    May 28, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  6. Chris

    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.....

    May 28, 2009 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  7. rachel

    Guess they accomplished what they set out to do intimidate people.

    May 28, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  8. warlance

    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.....

    May 28, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  9. Michiel W

    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!

    May 28, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  10. Mari( maybe one of my comments will be posted)

    So sad.

    May 28, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  11. Right Leaning Independent

    Is this a joke?? Dropping the charges – is that political payback for the intimidation?

    May 28, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  12. Chicago Red

    @rachel May 28th, 2009 7:57 pm ET
    Guess they accomplished what they set out to do intimidate people
    Shut Your sour Puss!!!

    May 28, 2009 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  13. phoenix86

    Another victory for totalitarianism in the USA. That's change that Obama is really delivering on.

    May 28, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  14. rick

    Where is the Justice in America these days.
    What has become of our country?

    May 28, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  15. Matt

    Send him to jail and get the guns off the street! BAN HANDGUNS.

    May 28, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  16. No Incumbents 2010

    I guess it's all in the way you spin things.

    May 28, 2009 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  17. Big Willie

    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.

    May 28, 2009 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  18. Big Willie

    Super job. Love our new AG.

    May 28, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. Larry S.

    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.

    May 28, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  20. Traci

    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.

    May 28, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  21. Chris

    This is yet another sickening day in Mr. Obama's term. How racist can we get when we let this happen?

    May 28, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  22. Miek

    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.

    May 28, 2009 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  23. Razor Willy

    It's good to know the Black Panthers are still in action. I wish them all the best. Keep those whities in check.

    May 28, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  24. JD

    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.)

    May 28, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  25. GuyInVA

    In other news, charges against Charles Manson were dropped because he promised never to do it again.

    May 28, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
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