Rule of Law

Marching Down New Black Panther Memory Lane

The New Black Panthers can’t stay out of the news, mostly because the Obama administration continues to behave so strangely when they come calling. The latest example is the oddly thin indictment on federal gun charges against two members of the anti-Semitic and anti-white hate group, when so much more seemed possible. Let’s recap.

Local St. Louis media reported that St. Louis police were investigating two New Black Panthers who sought to assassinate law enforcement officials in Ferguson as well as the local district attorney. The reports also indicated that they sought to use explosive devices against the St. Louis Gateway Arch. After this story, I opined here that the charges should be federal domestic terrorism charges, not state-level charges.

And voila! We have a thin two-page indictment against them on basic illegal gun purchasing charges. As Bill Gertz’s piece points out:

The soft treatment for activities that normally would have brought federal terrorism charges appears to be part of efforts by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to “go soft” on the racist group, according to former Justice official J. Christian Adams.

That’s odd. But what is odder still is how it seems a local St. Louis police investigation has been smothered, overtaken, and downplayed. When Gertz called the local police for comment, they referred him to the U.S. attorney in St. Louis. Normally, local officials don’t punt to the feds on a local investigation.

Then, when Gertz called the U.S. attorney, he was told he had to call the Office of Public Affairs in Washington. These are the professional, politicized press flunkies for Holder. When Gertz asked if more charges would be issued, he got no answers.

Remember, when the same Justice Department indicted Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, the indictment ran dozens and dozens of pages. The facts were laid bare. But McDonnell is a Republican, and the New Black Panthers, shall we say, are not.

Why did Washington absorb what started as a state case, and then downplay it?

One of the favorite narratives of spokesmen for the Obama administration who work at places like Slate and Mother Jones is that the New Black Panthers are about a dozen nuts who shouldn’t be taken seriously. If they are clowns, then concern about the anti-white hate group is also clownish. The Left finds it inconvenient to their racial narrative to have black racists around. The smaller the number, the better. That’s why the New Black Panthers are portrayed as a couple of clowns by the left.

But back in 2007, the New Black Panthers weren’t considered to be a couple of clowns to organizers of the commemoration of the Bloody Sunday Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing.

Each March in Selma, Alabama, top “civil rights” figures are invited to attend the crossing. Even former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor attended. In 2007, Senator Obama kicked off his campaign in Selma — at least the important part of his campaign. As I wrote in my book Injustice:

But as of March 2007, Obama had not rallied wide black support. So he went to Selma, Alabama, a city with deep meaning in civil rights lore thanks to the iconic Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights marches of 1965. Obama’s goal was to launch himself to the black community as a credible, winning, and most important, authentically black candidate — and he sought to do that by grafting his budding campaign onto the classic civil rights storyline. Fittingly, he timed his visit to coincide with Bloody Sunday jubilee weekend, the annual commemoration of the 1965 marches culminating in the event’s re-enactment on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Obama would share the podium and march with the head of the New Black Panther Party — Malik Zulu Shabazz:

work oval selma malik and obama

Bloody Sunday Weekend Event, 2007

I described the Selma events in Injustice:

The speakers were all people one would expect to hear at this kind of high-profile event, with one exception: New Black Panther Party chief Malik Zulu Shabazz, a future defendant in a DOJ voter intimidation lawsuit. He was flanked at the podium by several Panthers in full Panther battle regalia — black fatigues, beret, insignia, and boots. One of them was Panther “Field Marshal” Najee Muhammad, who is seen in a Panther video called “Training Day” in which he encourages blacks in DeKalb County, Georgia, to don ski masks, lie in wait behind shrubs, and kill police officers with AK-47s. Following that exhortation he mocks the hypothetical victims’ grieving widows. When the speeches ended, the crowd began the memorial walk to Edmund Pettus Bridge. For the duration of that one-mile trek, video reveals that the uniformed New Black Panther members shadowed close behind Obama, who showed no aversion to their presence.

I’ve never said that the Justice Department delivers special treatment to the New Black Panthers because of a relationship between Senator Barack Obama and the New Black Panthers. But I did raise several questions which have never been answered. Perhaps someone can ask them now, especially given the latest queer handling of criminal actions by Panthers.

Raised fists of New Black Panthers Marching Behind Obama

Raised fists of New Black Panthers Marching Behind Obama

In the end, nobody knows what Obama thought about the Panthers’ demonstration of support for him, because the media never asked him about it. Again, from my book:

Obama did not publicly acknowledge the Panthers’ tributes, but he also made no effort to shoo them away. Malik Zulu Shabazz told a reporter he spoke with Obama that day in Selma, though he did not provide details about the conversation.

It is possible Obama found the Panthers deeply embarrassing. Perhaps in his conversation with Shabazz he told the Panther leader to stay away from him, but Shabazz marched right behind him anyway. Or perhaps Obama was indifferent to the Panthers, viewing them as a weird sideshow and not fully understanding exactly who these people were.

But we cannot dismiss the disturbing possibility that the Panthers’ presence in Selma and on the podium outside Brown Chapel, as well as their positioning behind Obama during the march, was collaborative and deliberate. It is plausible that the Obama campaign acquiesced to the overtures of people like Malik Zulu Shabazz. The images of Obama and the Panthers together were useful to Obama, providing signs of his racial “authenticity” for important voting segments. And after all, it’s clear that some elements in the Obama campaign sympathized with the Panthers; in March 2008, the official Obama campaign website posted the Panthers’ endorsement of Obama, then quickly removed it when it drew negative attention.