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The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today suggested it is expanding its review of claims that the Department of Justice has implemented a ban on prosecuting defendants who are black.
The comments came at a hearing in Washington at which commission members asked witness J. Christian Adams to provide the names of other Department of Justice attorneys who might shed further light on his allegation that the DOJ is afflicted by a “culture of hostility” toward prosecuting black perpetrators of voting-rights violations against white victims.
Commissioner Gail Heriot asked Adams to provide a “list of attorneys in the department who could corroborate” his testimony, indicating that the commission plans to expand its investigation of racial bias in the Department of Justice.
Also, Adams revealed that some DOJ staffers were disciplined for harassing other departmental attorneys because they held “evangelical religious views” and worked on a case brought against a black political activist in Mississippi.
Adams, until recently a top trial attorney in the voting section of the DOJ, testified that staffers throughout the department have subscribed for years to the notion that the DOJ’s primary responsibility is to protect the voting rights of minority voters, not whites.
He added that recent Obama administration DOJ appointees have reinforced this notion by making such racial discrimination a formal departmental policy.
According to the former DOJ attorney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandez, an Obama appointee at the top of the department, announced at a policy meeting that “the voting section will not bring any other cases against blacks and other minorities.”
Instead, the department will focus on “traditional” civil-rights cases, was the suggestion.
Adams testified that Fernandez also said the department “has no interest in enforcing” the section of the Motor Voter law that requires local jurisdictions to purge the voting rolls of ineligible voters, even deceased voters, because “it has nothing to do with increasing turnout.”
Commissioner Peter Kirsanow asked Adams “to what extent” the department believes equal treatment before the law applies to all voters.
“That’s the problem,” replied Adams. “They assume Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act doesn’t apply to white voters.”
Adams pointed out that over the past 45 years, the department has brought hundreds of cases against whites violating the rights of ethnic-minority voters, but only two cases against blacks violating the rights of whites.
Commissioner Ashley Taylor observed, “The division’s policy can be found in the cases it brings.”
Adams said the DOJ’s attitude toward racial neutrality will be demonstrated in mid-July when the department has to choose a course of action in the next phase of a case against black political leader Ike Brown of Knox City, Miss. “If they don’t object to the submission, they will be [saying] that section 5 does not apply to white victims.”
Adams resigned from the department after he was ordered by his superiors to drop a case prosecutors already had won – the notorious New Black Panther Party intimidation of voters in a majority-black precinct in urban Philadelphia on Election Day in 2008.
Amateur videographers had caught New Black Panther Party activists on video wielding a baton, intimidating the elderly black man serving as the Republican poll watcher and calling for the murder of white babies in their cribs.
One of the four New Black Panther Party members charged in the case is also an elected Democrat holding a local office.
When they were ordered to drop the case, Adams and the team of DOJ lawyers had already won the case by default because the New Black Panthers declined to defend themselves in court. At that point in the proceedings, the DOJ team was simply waiting for the judge to assign penalties against the New Black Panthers.
Adams claimed that the decision to drop the case was made by Obama political appointees, and that the decision to drop a case that was already won was “unprecedented.”
Adams alleged that many DOJ employees, both career civil servants and political appointees, have told him that the DOJ “doesn’t have the resources” to enforce the voting-rights laws in a “race-neutral” manner by bringing cases against members of minority groups who violate the law. Others have refused to work on either of the two cases against black perpetrators, saying, “I didn’t join the voting-rights division to sue black people.”
Adams said one DOJ staffer told his former superior, Christopher Coates, then the chief of the DOJ’s Voting Section, “Can you believe we’re being sent down to Mississippi to defend white people?” He reported another staffer told Coates, “the Brown case has gotten us into so much trouble with civil-rights groups.”
According to Adams, some members of the DOJ Voting Section staff were “harassed” by other members “for working on the Brown case.” An internal department investigation led to sanctions against some staffers for “badgering” others because they worked on the Brown case and held “evangelical religious views.”
According to Adams, Coates suffered humiliation and the gradual loss of his power because he supported the case against the New Black Panther Party. Adams repeatedly urged the members of the commission to bring Coates in to testify about the department’s hostility toward bringing cases against minority members.
As WND reported, the Justice Department originally brought the 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 nightstick 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 fistfight right here,’ and I called the police.”
Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, filed a lawsuit seeking the government’s documentation about the case.
The 2008 election incident in Philadelphia has appeared on video on YouTube:
As WND reported, two men, Minister King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, wearing paramilitary uniforms and armed with a nightstick, 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.
A federal judge ordered default judgments against the Panthers after party members refused to appear in court. The Washington Times reported the Justice Department was seeking sanctions when Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general who had been granted a political appointment by President Obama in January 2009 to temporarily fill the position, ordered a delay in the proceedings. According to the report, the ruling was issued after King met with Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli, the department’s No. 3 political appointee, who approved the decision.
Even though DOJ lawyers had won the case, it was suddenly dropped.
The case was dismissed May 15, 2009, Adams told Fox News.
“All the charges were dropped against three of the defendants and the final order against one of the defendants was a timid restraint.”
Only one of four defendants faced punishment: a temporary injunction against appearing at Philadelphia polls with a weapon. The department stopped at the injunction and didn’t call for criminal penalties, monetary damages or other civil penalties.
“We were ordered to dismiss the case,” Adams said. “I mean, we were told drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party.”
The Department of Justice said it made a decision based on the evidence that the case could not go forward.
Reacting to Adams’ statement the DOJ told Fox News:
The department sought and obtained an injunction against the Black Panther who had a nightstick at the polling station. After a thorough review, the facts did not support the case against the other defendants in the case. It is not uncommon for attorneys within the department to have good-faith disagreements about the appropriate course of action in a particular case, although it is regrettable when a former department attorney distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his or her agenda.
But Adams said high-ranking DOJ officials did not review the facts of the case nor the briefs before making that call.
In a commentary published in the Washington Times, Adams wrote, “Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers.”
He added, “If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls. Let’s all hope this administration has not invited that outcome through the corrupt dismissal.”