Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How far is too far?

Voter intimidation, a tactic used by White Americans to keep African Americans from voting during the time of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, is now being used by a new political party that goes by a very familiar name, The New Black Panther Party. The original Black Panther Party has denied any affiliation with this group for good reason. This New Black Panther Party has a new, racist political agenda targeted at White Americans for what seems to be payback of treatment to African Americans before and during the Civil Rights Movement.

The most recent of events for this New Black Panther Party involves voter intimidation outside a polling place in Philadelphia during the 2008 Presidential election. Three members of this party, dressed in what Washington Post is calling “paramilitary uniforms,” assembled outside this polling station to verbally and visually intimidate voters. Their uniforms consisted primarily of black articles of clothing, black boots, black berets, and all other things black to maximize visual intimidation. To add to this visual tactic, one of the members at the time was carrying, out in the open, a police issue type nightstick, seemingly to violently attack voters as they approached the polls. Fortunately this night stick was never used; however, racially offensive comments were constant during this exhibition of the New Black Panther Party.

This voter intimidation tactic interferes with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While the New Black Panther Party was not directly interfering with the registering and voting of candidates by White citizens, the verbal insults and visual intimidation make voters more than uncomfortable when trying to cast their ballots at the polls.

Legal action has been taken to enforce the Voting Rights Act and to show this pseudo-black supremacy party that such force to the point of hate crimes will not be tolerated within our judicial system. However, as of July 30, 2009 the case was dropped and lawyers working on the case were told to discontinue further work.

It is unfortunate to see this case dropped as this New Black Panther Party seeks to deface the true purpose of the original Black Panther Party. This new racial supremacy group using the name of the courageous organization that once made individuals proud to be African American insults both the African American culture and insults the judicial system that brought an end to segregation. What negative impacts might the New Black Panther Party have on the connotations the original Black Panther Party worked hard to put into the history books? What processes, if not judicially based, could be put in motion to stop this militant group from continuing activity?



  1. I think it is wise of you to point out that not only does the New Black Panther Party's actions violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965, but also that their use of the name is degrading to the original Black Panther Party. I'm sure the image of the Black Panther Party will be marred by this attempted association; even if Americans know they are two separate organizations, it is hard not to group the two together because of the obvious similarities. Instead of being seen as an organization that pushed for African American rights along with human rights by way of intelligence and hard work, the Black Panther Party could now be associated with the solely violent and intimidating New Black Panther Party.

  2. I don't know why judicial based action would be difficult to take. Even if the group argues that they are exercising freedom of speech, there are laws in place that don't allow any sort of activity/signs within a specific proximity of a poll. The presence of the militant group is trying to sway the voters' opinions, and is therefore, illegal.