J. Christian Adams, 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.
"We abetted wrongdoing and abandoned law-abiding citizens," he later testified.
The Bush Justice Department was first to bring the case against three members of the New Black Panthers. The individuals were accused of violating the Voter Rights Act in a civil complaint. The Department of Justice initially won a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panther members did not appear in court, but then the Obama Administration moved in to dismiss the charges, getting one of the New Black Panther members to agree to not carry a "deadly weapon" near a polling place until 2012. After 2012 of course all bets are off, but apparently weapons are not okay till then.
In a statement Tuesday, the Justice spokesman said the civil rights division determined "the facts and the law did not support pursuing claims". He went on to deny Adams' allegations of unequal enforcement of the law.
That spokesman seems to be out of tune with what has been transpiring in his department, as evidenced by the testimony Friday April 23rd hearing before the US Commision on Civil Rights:
Hill was called a “white devil” and a “cracker,” and was told he would be ruled by the black man the next day, and he would have to get used to “living under his boot.” Hill saw several voters, including two elderly women, stop abruptly as they were walking up to the polling place when they saw the two Panthers standing right in front of the door. The voters turned around and left; they said they would “come back later” to vote.
Bartle Bull — a well-known Democratic lawyer (and former publisher of The Village Voice), who worked in the South during the height of the civil-rights campaign — saw the same thing happen. He had also gotten a call about the intimidation and drove to the polling place. One of the Panthers pointed his billy club at Bull and said, “Now you are going to find out what it is to be ruled by the black man, cracker.”
Adams said that when the Black Panther case came up, he heard officials in the department say it was "no big deal".
"The department makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved. We are committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of both the civil and criminal provisions of the federal laws that prohibit voter intimidation," the spokesman said.
Well, if that were true would not the world be a better place? Sadly, the video evidence shows that it took a police officer arriving at the scene to get the three individuals away from the entrance of the polling station. The three individuals were black. The people attempting to vote were white.
Adams said he ignored department directives not to testify before the commission. He 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. Adams considered the case a clear example of voter intimidation. He said hearing Perez's dismissive description was a "very low moment".
The department's hostility toward this case and others involving black defendants has been described by Adams as being "pervasive." As one example, he cited another case where a black official in Mississippi was accused of trying to intimidate voters in 2007.
Adams stated the voter polling station intimidation that the New Black Panther Party had engaged in the November elections were the "same thing" they had done earlier in the Democrat primaries, where the effort was to suppress votes of supporters of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in early 2008. He urged the commission to pursue testimony from other Justice officials to corroborate his story.