Right-wing media smear “African-American Attorney General” as racially biased in trumped-up New Black Panthers case
Right-wing media continued trumpeting completely unsubstantiated allegations that the Department of Justice — and Attorney General Eric Holder specifically — dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party because the defendants were African-American. In fact, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez testified that the charges were dropped after attorneys at the Civil Rights Division determined that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the three defendants.
Right-wing media smear Holder as having racial motivation in “inexplicably” dropping the case against the New Black Panthers
RedState accused Holder of “judging people by the color of their skin”; says, “It’s impossible to believe that President Obama and his Administration actually buys in to this idea that we have moved beyond race and into a color blind society.” In a July 7 testified that the two were “career” attorneys who had “been in the [Civil Rights] Division for 30 years” and had “worked in the administration of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and many other Presidents.” Indeed, Rosenbaum was reportedly once promoted to the head of voting rights in the Civil Rights Division by former President George H.W. Bush. Perez also testified that this was “a case about career people disagreeing with career people”:
Two people, Loretta King and Steve Rosenbaum, have been in the Division for 30 years. They worked in the administration of George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, and many other Presidents.
I have worked at the Department under Republican and Democratic leadership. And I have been involved in many, many cases where you look at evidence. And reasonable people of good faith can take a look at evidence and draw different conclusions from the evidence. This is a case about career people disagreeing with career people. That happens very often.
Perez: The decision not to pursue additional charges against three of the four defendants was made because the “allegations … did not have sufficient evidentiary support.” Contrary to Doocy’s, Perino’s, and Morrissey’s claims, Perez directly addressed the decision not to pursue additional charges in May 14 testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He manufactured controversy surrounding the New Black Panthers Party case “small potatoes” and encouraged readers to “forget about the New Black Panther Party case,” commenting that “too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.” From the July 6 NRO noted that “no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting,” which “was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.” A July 2 article at the legal news website Main Justice further reported that “no voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation” adding, “The complaints have come from white Republican poll watchers, who have given no evidence they were registered to vote in the majority black precinct.”
Bush-era DOJ also chose not to prosecute a similar case against Arizona Minutemen
Perez: “[T]he Department declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation” in 2006. In his May 14 testimony before the Commission on Civil Rights, Perez highlighted a case that completely undermines the notion that the DOJ’s decisions in the Black Panthers case were unprecedented or racially motivated. Perez testified that in 2006, the DOJ “declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation” “when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish.” [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 5/14/10]
Anti-immigrant activist in 2006 case reportedly had “9mm Glock strapped to his side” at polling place. A November 8, 2006, Austin American-Statesman article reported (from the Nexis database): “In Arizona, Roy Warden, an anti-immigration activist with the Minutemen, and a handful of supporters staked out a Tucson precinct and questioned Hispanic voters at the polls to determine whether they spoke English.” The article continued:
Armed with a 9mm Glock automatic strapped to his side, Warden said he planned to photograph Hispanic voters entering polls in an effort to identify illegal immigrants and felons.
Arizona Daily Star: “[A]nti-immigrant activist” “stood by with a firearm in a holster.” A November 8, 2006, Arizona Daily Star article reported (from Nexis):
A crew of anti-immigrant activists, meanwhile, visited several South Side polling places in what one poll-watch group called a blatant attempt to intimidate Hispanic voters.
Anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove circulated an English-only petition, while a cameraman filmed the voters he approached and Roy Warden stood by with a firearm in a holster.
Diego Bernal, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), said the trio was trying to intimidate Hispanic voters. “A gun, a camera, a clipboard before you even get to the polls - if that’s not voter intimidation, what is?” he asked.
Bernal said his group encountered the men at the Precinct 49 polling place at South 12th Avenue and West Michigan Street and began documenting the scene with their cameras. “There was an interesting period where they were taking pictures of us taking pictures of them.”
Tucson Citizen: Incident “reported to the FBI.” A November 8, 2006, Tucson Citizen article (from Nexis) reported that Bernal “said he reported the incident to the FBI.” The article also reported that Pima County elections director Brad Nelson said: “If intimidation or coercion was going on out there, even though it might have been outside the 75-foot limit, it’s something we take very seriously, and we’ll be looking into it.”
The New York Times noted that Bush’s DOJ “discouraged” “high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies … where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly.” An August 31, 2009, New York Times article noted that under George W. Bush’s administration, “appointees had discouraged such tactics” as “high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies … where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly”:
As part of this shift, the Obama administration is planning a major revival of high-impact civil rights enforcement against policies, in areas ranging from housing to hiring, where statistics show that minorities fare disproportionately poorly. President George W. Bush’s appointees had discouraged such tactics, preferring to focus on individual cases in which there is evidence of intentional discrimination.