New Black Panthers Speak Out

The New Black Panthers may hate white people, but did they intimidate them on Election Day 2008?

By Aaron Kase
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 25 | Posted Aug. 17, 2010

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King Samir Shabazz (center) with Jerry Jackson (right) and another member of the New Black Panther Party

Photo by Kriston Bethel

It’s just starting to get dark when I stroll up to Jerry Jackson’s house in north-central Philly, a tidy, well-landscaped brick single with a red, black and green flag flying out front. A small sign by the door reads: “COLORED ONLY. No Whites Allowed.” I go for the bell anyway, at any moment expecting someone to tell me to get my cracker-ass off the property.

Jackson—chief of staff of the Philadelphia branch of the New Black Panther Party—answers, and we cordially shake hands. He tells me to wait, going back inside and locking the door behind him. Soon, the door opens again and three Panthers dressed in black file out and take up positions guarding the sidewalk. A woman in street clothes comes out and starts walking around the house, peering behind bushes and into corners.

They stand “at ease” but are alert, with their eyes on the street. No weapons are visible but the martial atmosphere is palpable as daylight fades to night on the otherwise deserted block.

Jackson comes out again, setting an old office chair in the center of the porch. Assistant Chief of Staff Ayotefnut Ba takes up position at the back of the porch. Finally, the chairman himself emerges.

King Samir Shabazz is shorter than I’d expected but otherwise looks just like he does in various YouTube videos—dreads, face covered in tats, and dressed like a soldier. I hesitate—would he be offended to shake the hand of a white man? I extend mine anyway and he takes it; a solid, firm handshake.

Shabazz sits in the office chair and starts talking. “We’re just tired of being demonized,” he says. “When you demonize the New Black Panther Party, you demonize the ideology of black power, black struggle and love."

The New Black Panthers have been all over national news since Election Day 2008, when Shabazz and Jackson were accused of intimidating voters at a Fairmount Avenue polling station in the 14th Ward. Evidence is sparse to what actually happened on that day at the Guild House West Retirement home. A videotape distributed on YouTube shows Shabazz and Jackson standing out front, with Shabazz holding a nightstick and telling the cameraman he is providing security. According to the Department of Justice, which brought a case against the men, “Every voter necessarily had to pass within the mens’ armed purview, and within a distance at which the weapon could potentially be swung to hit them.”

Bartle Bull, a white civil-rights attorney known for working on Democratic candidates’ campaigns, was checking in at various polling stations that day, and when he stopped in on Fairmount Avenue, he said Shabazz yelled at him, “Now you will see what it means to be ruled by the black man, cracker!”

Two poll watchers stationed inside the building reportedly told a third poll watcher that they were intimidated, but they later denied it and said that they were unaware of the Panthers’ presence.

“I didn’t see anybody outside. Nobody said nothing to me about anything,” poll watcher Larry Counts testified at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, though he had previously told Justice Department lawyers that before leaving the polling place, he “first checked to see if the Black Panthers were still deployed outside.”

There were no reports of voters denied entrance to the polls. The neighborhood is primarily black, and out of more than 1,500 voters, fewer than 100 were registered Republican. So it’s unclear who exactly Shabazz and Jackson would have wanted to prevent from casting ballots.

Vice Chair of the Civil Rights Commission Abigail Thernstrom said, “So far —after months of hearings, testimony and investigation—no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots.”

Citing lack of evidence, the Department of Justice dropped the intimidation charges but issued an injunction banning Shabazz from Philadelphia polls until 2012. Critics are accusing the DoJ of “backing off” voting cases involving black defendants, under the direction of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder. A number of lawmakers have called for the DoJ’s Inspector General to investigate why the case was dropped, but the office declined, stating that its jurisdiction is to uncover waste and fraud, not political bias.

Meanwhile, Shabazz and Jackson have said very little about Election Day 2008.

“It’s not about a night stick. It’s about the very fact that the New Black Panther Party was there providing security for our elders. The KKK and neo-Nazis in the city of Philadelphia were putting out fliers saying they would be attacking elders and youth. We were there to secure the elders’ home.

“Everything else that happened after that, it is what it is.”

Shabazz says he can’t speak more about the voter-intimidation charges because the case is still under review by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He and Jackson were subpoenaed by the Commission but declined to testify when their lawyer did not show up to the deposition in January. “To be honest, I don’t want to talk about it,” Shabazz says. “The white man has lied about it so much. That’s small potatoes.”

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 25 of 25
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1. CJ said... on Aug 17, 2010 at 09:30PM

“These clowns are racist a$$holes. Racism breeds more racism. Lets give them publicity.”

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2. Apokolypzx said... on Aug 17, 2010 at 10:37PM

“If it weren't for the kkk the Panthers would not exist. Nazis started this. I hope these men can finish it. White suppression is at an end.
Black Power!”

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3. Janice said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:37AM

“This group is just a racist organization plain and simple. Maybe the author could have interviewed the whistle blower lawyer J. Christian Adams from the DOJ who resigned over this. He said the Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez provided false testimony in May to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, which is investigating the department's decision to drop charges. Perez told the commission that the facts and the law didn't support the case against the group. Adams states that is a lie.The Obama administration won a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panthers didn't appear in court to fight the charges. But the administration moved to dismiss the charges in May 2009. Hmm I have to wonder why!”

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4. Former Philly Resident said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:47AM

“As someone who has observed this kind of rhetoric from black militants for well over 20 years now, I would highly recommend that we ask ourselves: When has this type of rhetoric ever led to any violence against white people? The sad truth of the matter is no matter how much anti-white rhetoric gets spewed, the vast majority of the violence black people have perpetrated, are perpetrating and will perpetrate for the foreseeable future has, is and will be perpetrated against other black people.”

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5. Janice said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 01:05AM

“The author is unsure if there is actually any evdience to support the voter intimidation accusation. I think it would behove him to go to the goverment website www.usccr.gov/NBPH/NBPH.htm (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights) and read the actual testimony of witnesses that were present. There is testimony that proves they intimidated voters.

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6. Kathy said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 01:14AM

“This group--by being so outlandish, actually plays into the hands of the ultra-right in their desire to stir up nutty fears, hatreds and xeno and other phobias. Let's cut the crap and realize we all have more in common with each other, and will get somewhere--ie: save the planet--by working together. I highly doubt that the likes of King Shabazz have much of any hearing in the Black Community. As a white person who works in North and West Philadelphia, I can honestly say that I have NEVER experienced a shred of hostility. United we stand.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 02:13AM

“Apokolypzx is no better then the KKK.”

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8. THEWHITEMANISTHEDEVIL said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 09:17AM

“I LOVE THE FACT THAT THE CRACKA TAKE THIS GROUP AS A JOKE BECAUSE THAT MEANS THE DEVIL (CRACKA) WILL NEVER SEE THEM COMING.....BLACK POWER BLACK UHURU!!!”

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9. Anonymous said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 09:34AM

“It's amazing that someone would give this guy "King" Samir press. It's pretty obvious that he was intimidating voters on election day and should be prosecuted for it. He didn't bring the nightstick there to play softball.

I think it's time that people like "King" started addressing the real problems in the black community: 40% of black men drop out of highschool. 75% of black children are born out of wedlock or are raised in single family homes. The incarceration rate of black males is 8 times that of white counterparts. I'm sure "King" will blame that on white people too.”

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10. Rodney Jackson said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 09:38AM

“Only a dopey leftist could write an article this stupid.”

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11. Larry W said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:03PM

“These assholes aren't any better than the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazi's, or any other group of racists.

Seriously, how is them standing outside a predominately-black voting center any different than a group of neo-nazi thugs standing in front of a predominantly-white voting center?”

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12. UnkleSam said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 01:55PM

“Just as the KKK don't have the guts to march and rally in mostly black neighborhoods, these punk azz twerps don't have the guts to carry on in Montana or Texas. Go for it, tough guys. Look at them, ugly, moronic wimps in wannabe military outfits.”

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13. K said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 02:10PM

“How is this a real interview? I was expecting questions and answers not a vague unorganized mess that somewhat mentions the court case? Sloppy story, is this even news? I didn't learn anything? WTF.”

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14. BenFranklean said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 03:26PM

“This guy made terroristic threats against all white people! Why is he not being arrested by Homeland Security?! This guy is much scarier than Mel Gibson!”

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15. pete said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 04:59PM

“As a white man who is not ashamed of
his European culture and background,
l respect this group because they know
what side they are on. We who believe
in our culture have a right to toast some
of the actions of our ancestors, just as
African Americans have their right to do
the same. I love my white self and I hope
people in this city will start to love their
particular ancestral line; it is because of
that line that they are here. Please don't
blame me for the world's ills. The true
source of evil in the world is irrationality,
which everyone is susceptible to.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 05:11PM

“But Mr. Shabazz you must keep in mind that if all of the 'evil' crackers are eliminated, you won't get your monthly welfare check!”

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17. j9 said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 07:17PM

“We must keep in my mind that this group is exercising their freedom of speech...it's offensive to some (of any ethnicity) but their extremism raises some important questions about race and race relations in america that would otherwise be swept under the rug...thus so many comments on this thread...lol...and the racist remark from Anonymous "you won't get your monthly welfare check"...see racism is still alive we just be concealing it on both sides... more dialogue is the key...this writer and this newspaper should be hailed for opening up the lines of communication and helping to start dialogue”

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18. LyingFlag said... on Aug 18, 2010 at 09:47PM

“amazing that liberals are sticking up for this terrorist organization, who stands on the street, screaming racist and sexist profanity at people and think that freedom of speech includes this type of speech. try this in the middle east. you'd have our tongue cut out.”

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19. Janice said... on Aug 19, 2010 at 03:13AM

“@pete- Could I have some of whatever it is you are smoking? There is no problem loving your ancestory and yourself, but when you spew hate speech and condone the "killing of cracker babies", that is not free speech. That is racist, and in my view terroristic threats. When you stand outside a polling place with a baton and attempt to inimidate voters that is a crime. It is against the civil rights of anyone who was voting at that polling place. This group is a racist organization that condones the killing of the white man. Im not sure where you find the respect in that. @J9- I would be more impressed if this writer did his research and actually bothered to read the witness statments from that day at the polling place. Instead his headline is "But did they intimidate them on election day". In my previous post I gave the website where one can read about the investigation.”

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20. Rich Poorman said... on Aug 19, 2010 at 04:32PM

“Buncha welfare crickets, hangin' in the ghetto, trash-mouthin' crackas, playing with dildoes, chillin' and thrillin' white fag boy reporters, doin' the Malcolm X-Spike Lee thang, waitin' for the check to come . . .

Where I live, guns and the ability to use them speak louder than words. I say "Bring it on!" We ready.

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21. True Colors said... on Aug 19, 2010 at 09:59PM

“Can't wait to read about these scum f***ers deaths”

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22. i don't get it said... on Aug 20, 2010 at 08:58AM

“1st of all, isn't Obama half-white. So why was it so important to help a man who's "half-evil" get into office. He sucked the same dicks Bush did to get in, and the same people have pictures of him doing it. you're all sheep, no one realizes that a black president was a strategic move by a bunch of rich white men to keep the country quiet. And what do we have to show for it? Recession, debt, oil spills, and another asshole who still won't even tell the truth about 9/11. Or the Times Square bomber? still haven't seen a moving image of the man, or a picture of the trial, or him in handcuffs, or anything that would lead me to believe he is a real human. This king shabazz has it all fucked up. ALSO, PW hasn't printed a decent article in... i don't know, never. what the fuck is with this lack of substance in a very interesting subject. you could have gone any where with this and you did a half ass interview piece that honestly sounded like a half-mockery of king shabazz 13X.”

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23. Robbins Mitchell said... on Aug 23, 2010 at 01:51PM

“King?????..."king" of what?..."King of the Pickaninnies"?”

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24. Jessica said... on Aug 29, 2010 at 08:17PM

“White people should question why the Blacks feel such animosity... As police brutality and poverty in black communities increases, so goes an increase in the hatred toward the "man"... if you are not careful, the revolution will arrive.”

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25. Blacks can't be racist said... on Oct 29, 2011 at 03:58PM

“Black power!!! I admire the NBPP. Only whites can be racist and they deserve to be intimidated. They always try and hold back the black man. White cops always profile the black man and the black ones always show out for the white one. How dare anyone with call the NBPP racist.”

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