Ex-Official Accuses Justice Department of Racial Bias in Black Panther Case

Fox News, July 6, 2010

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J. Christian Adams [an ex-Justice official who quit over the handling of a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party], testifying Tuesday before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, said that “over and over and over again,” the department showed “hostility” toward those cases. He described the Black Panther case as one example of that–he defended the legitimacy of the suit and said his “blood boiled” when he heard a Justice official claim the case wasn’t solid.

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“We abetted wrongdoing and abandoned law-abiding citizens,” he later testified.

The department abandoned the New Black Panther case last year. It stemmed from an incident on Election Day in 2008 in Philadelphia, where members of the party were videotaped in front of a polling place, dressed in military-style uniforms and allegedly hurling racial slurs while one brandished a night stick.

{snip} The Obama administration initially pursued the case, winning a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panther members did not appear in court. But then the administration moved to dismiss the charges the following month after getting one of the New Black Panther members to agree to not carry a “deadly weapon” near a polling place until 2012.

The Civil Rights Commission, which subpoenaed Adams, has been probing the incident since last year. Adams said he ignored department directives not to testify and eventually quit after he heard Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez testify that there were concerns the Black Panther case was not supported by the facts.

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But he [Adams] described the department’s hostility toward that and other cases involving black defendants as “pervasive.” Adams cited hostility in the department toward a 2007 voting rights case against a black official in Mississippi who was accused of trying to intimidate voters. Adams said that when the Black Panther case came up, he heard officials in the department say it was “no big deal” and “media-generated” and point to “Fox News” as the source.

But as the investigation unfolded, he said he discovered “indications” that the Black Panther Party was doing the “same thing” to supporters of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary season in early 2008. He urged the commission to pursue testimony from other Justice officials to corroborate his story.

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Mr. Adams [J. Christian Adams] will make some explosive charges. He says the administration used a racial double standard in deciding last year to drop the prosecution of the New Black Panther Party after members were videotaped in front of a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008 dressed in military-style uniforms, brandishing a billy club and using racial slurs against voters. Mr. Adams says the career prosecutors who pursued the case did their job but were stymied by Obama political appointees, for whom he has harsh words: “To abandon law-abiding citizens and abet wrongdoers constitutes corruption,” he told Fox News last week.

President Obama’s Justice Department continues to stonewall inquiries about why it dropped the voter intimidation case, which Bartle Bull, a former civil rights lawyer and former publisher of the left-wing Village Voice, calls “the most blatant form of voter intimidation I’ve ever seen.” Mr. Bull and others witnessed one Black Panther pointing his billy club at voters and making racial threats. Mr. Bull says he heard one yell: “You are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker!”

Nonetheless, the Justice Department moved to dismiss most of the charges a month after winning a default judgment against the Black Panthers when the party failed to appear in federal court. {snip}

But the Washington Times has reported that six career lawyers at Justice, including Christopher Coates, former chief of the Justice Department’s voting section, also favored pursuing the case. One of the career attorneys, Appellate Chief Diana Flynn, had urged in an internal memo that a judgment be pressed against the defendants to “prevent the paramilitary style intimidation of voters” in the future.

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