Last November three members of the Black Panther Party were videotaped displaying weapons and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia election site. They wore military-style uniforms, blocked poll entrances and made racial comments. The Justice Department pursued a civil complaint against them as late as May 5 and were on the verge of getting legal sanctions against them. And then the politically-appointed DOJ brass stepped in. From the Washington Times, EXCLUSIVE: Career lawyers overruled on voting case
Justice Department political appointees overruled career lawyers and ended a civil complaint accusing three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense of wielding a nightstick and intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place last Election Day, according to documents and interviews.
A long-time civil rights activist saw the whole thing:
To support its evidence, the government had secured an affidavit from Bartle Bull, a longtime civil rights activist and former aide to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Mr. Bull said in a sworn statement dated April 7 that he was serving in November as a credentialed poll watcher in Philadelphia when he saw the three uniformed Panthers confront and intimidate voters with a nightstick.
“In my opinion, the men created an intimidating presence at the entrance to a poll,” he declared. “In all my experience in politics, in civil rights litigation and in my efforts in the 1960s to secure the right to vote in Mississippi … I have never encountered or heard of another instance in the United States where armed and uniformed men blocked the entrance to a polling location.”
Mr. Bull said the “clear purpose” of what the Panthers were doing was to “intimidate voters with whom they did not agree.” He also said he overheard one of the men tell a white poll watcher: “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker.”
He called their conduct an “outrageous affront to American democracy and the rights of voters to participate in an election without fear.” He said it was a “racially motivated effort to limit both poll watchers aiding voters, as well as voters with whom the men did not agree.”
Interestingly, the government never used that affidavit in court.
What does DOJ say?
A Justice Department spokesman on Thursday confirmed that the agency had dropped the case, dismissing two of the men from the lawsuit with no penalty and winning an order against the third man that simply prohibits him from bringing a weapon to a polling place in future elections.
The department was “successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again,” spokesman Alejandro Miyar said. “Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law.”
Mr. Miyar declined to elaborate about any internal dispute between career and political officials, saying only that the department is “committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote.”
Except when they have plenty of evidence of it. Then they ignore it. Watch the video and decide for yourself.
What with this and Congress’s refusal to hold hearings on ACORN voter registration fraud, you could get the idea that Washington isn’t especially interested in the integrity of our voting system.