A new lawsuit demands an explanation for the federal government’s decision to allow militia-type men with nightsticks to get away with intimidating voters at a polling station.
The 2008 election incident in Philadelphia has appeared on video on Youtube:
The Justice Department originally brought a case against four armed men who witnesses say derided voters with catcalls of “white devil” and “cracker” and told voters they should prepare to be “ruled by the black man.”
One poll watcher called police after he reportedly saw one of the men brandishing a nightstick to threaten voters.
“As I walked up, they closed ranks, next to each other,” the witness told Fox News at the time. “So I walked directly in between them, went inside and found the poll watchers. They said they’d been here for about an hour. And they told us not to come outside because a black man is going to win this election no matter what.”
He said the man with a night stick told him, “‘We’re tired of white supremacy’ and he starts tapping the nightstick in his hand. At which point I said, ‘OK, we’re not going to get in a fist fight right here,’ and I called the police.”
Officials with Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today filed the lawsuit seeking the government’s documentation about the case.
“The Obama administration owes the American people an explanation,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “How can the Justice Department dismiss a clear-cut case of voter intimidation involving the use of a weapon?
“Are voting rights important at the Justice Department? If there is nothing to hide, then Eric Holder should release this information as the law requires,” he said.
The Justice Department originally filed its case against the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and several of its members then overruled the recommendations of its own staff and dismissed the majority of its claims.
Fitton told WND it’s rare that “you have video of actual voter intimidation.”
With that information, he said, a decision by the government “to do nothing” really undermines the “whole effort over the last 40 years to suppress voter intimidation.”
“So much for the civil rights era,” he said.
The Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeks the documents relating to the agency’s decision to dismiss some of the claims.
As WND reported, two men, Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, wearing paramilitary uniforms and armed with a nightsticks, blocked a doorway to a polling location to intimidate voters. Shabazz is leader of the Philadelphia chapter of the New Black Panther Party.
The Justice Department’s complaint was under Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 against four defendants: the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and its leader, Malik Zulu Shabazz, and the two men who appeared at the Philadelphia polling place Nov. 4, 2008. The complaint accused them of attempting to engage in, and engaging in, both voter intimidation and intimidation of individuals aiding voters.
Judicial Watch originally submitted an FOIA request May 29, 2009, and it took until Jan. 15, 2010, for the Office of Information Policy to provide notice that it would respond.
Then on Feb. 10, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated that after an extensive search it had located “numerous responsive records” but determined that “access to the majority of the records” should be denied.
Earlier, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent bipartisan unit of the federal government assigned to investigate and report on civil rights issues, said it was seeking answers.
Why, the organization wondered, did Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, say “the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the federal criminal civil rights statutes.”