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Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Black Panthers Party Want Feds To Probe Newberry Hate Crime

Newberry, SC Law Enforcement officials have intentionally refused to charge the suspect (White) who shot Anthony Hill (Black, former U.S. Soldier) than dragged his body 10 miles down a road, with a Hate Crime because they don't want Feds "snooping" into their business.

Instead of standing with the New Black Panthers Party, local NAACP leaders are keeping their distance.

This is why I NO longer support the spineless NAACP organization.

New Black Panthers Party Falsely Labeled As Hate Group, Plans Rally In Newberry, SC

Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster is reassuring residents he has extra deputies in the county, as a weekend of protests begin by a group that has been labeled as a hate group.

The New Black Panther party had a vigil planned Friday for a 30-year-old Anthony Hill. He's the man who deputies say was shot, then dragged 10 miles behind a pickup truck in June.

Gregory Collins, 19, is charged with murder in connection with the death.

Deputies also found more than 20 assault weapons inside of Collins' home. Hill was a former soldier, and member of the volunteer fire department. The two men worked at a plant together, and Foster says they were together earlier in the day.

Foster said the death of Hill is being investigated as a possible hate crime, but that ruling can only come from the FBI, who is also looking into the case.

A week following the arrest, the New Black Panther party arrived in Newberry holding rallies, marches and starting a fund to help Hill's children. But what many in the community may not know is that they have been identified as a hate group by multiple organizations.

Documented video has shown members of their group using racial epithets for whites in speeches, and at rallies, calling for violence toward whites. Group members have also made numerous anti-Semitic statements on camera.

"They are certainly what we would call a black nationalist organization, they believe in notions of black independence black autonomy, some would classify that as being racially separatist or a hate organization," USC political science professor Todd Shaw says.

The New Black Panthers has been defined as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2000. The Anti-Defamation League has also condemned the group's actions.

"The rhetoric itself is strong it's obnoxious at times to others," Shaw says. "To draw the attention to the issue, to draw the cameras, to draw the public notice, that's the point, they also do it of course because they believe what they're saying, but they know that in some ways they see themselves as provocateurs."

While the New Black Panthers self-associate with the original Black Panthers from the 1960s, a leader of the group from that time, Bobby Steale says they are not the same.

"A xenophobic kind of rhetoric that turns into a kind of sort of racist rhetoric rather than anything that's constructive," says Steale, who is the chairman of the group. "Making absurd categorical racial remarks, that's not what it's about."

Shaw says it is important to ask what the organization believes in.

"Groups that have views of that extreme will use shocking violence, will use shocking racial rhetoric, obnoxious or not it's important to ask what's the broad set of questions that are raised by their presence," Shaw says.

South Carolina NAACP Chairman Lonnie Randolph tells News19, "I don't support their views but as long as they operate within the law, I am fine."

He also says he has been in Newberry when the New Black Panthers were there but did not meet with them.

The New Black Panthers say they are just looking for justice for Anthony Hill. That's part of their seven demands, along with federal hate crime charges in this case.

News19 has also learned that one of the New Black Panther party members who has made trip to the Midlands was arrested this week in Atlanta.

Hashim Nzinga is the National Chief of Staff for the New Black Panther Party. He's made appearances in Columbia with the group during news conferences about the death of Anthony Hill.

Atlanta Police confirm to News19 that Nzinga was arrested Tuesday on bank fraud charges. He has posted bond.

Investigators did not provide other details on his arrest.

Large Crowd Expected For New Black Panther Rally

The New Black Panthers Party is planning to rally in Newberry Saturday in response to the murder of a man who was later dragged behind a truck for several miles..

Officials are expecting a large turnout and they're concerned about crowd control.

The group says they expect thousands of people to show up at the march.

The New Black Panthers say the murder and dragging of 30-year-old Anthony Hill, a black man, is an obvious hate crime. They've been demanding justice since the incident occurred in early June.

A suspect, 19-year-old Gregory Collins, was put behind bars without bond just hours after the murder.

Authorities continue their investigation, but say it's unclear as to whether it was a hate crime.

Newberry, S.C. Uneasy As New Black Panthers Party Saturday Rally Nears

Dana Brooks understands why the New Black Panther Party is organizing a rally and march Saturday through her hometown.

But she has no plans to be a part of it

“It feels like they’re stirring up more problems than they’re solving,” said Brooks, 18, and a recent graduate of Mid-Carolina High School. “I know they’re trying to call attention to a very serious situation. But I don’t feel like I should be in a situation where there could be problems.”

Fear and uncertainty are thick in Newberry as local residents prepare for Saturday’s rally. No one knows how many people to expect or what the mood will be. Downtown business owners were reluctant to speak this week about the planned rally but most said their businesses already will be closed by the time the Panthers assemble at the courthouse around 5 p.m.

The event is in response to the June 2 killing of Anthony Hill.

Hill, a black man, was shot to death and his corpse was dragged nearly 11 miles along country roads behind a truck. Gregory Collins, 19, who is white, is in jail without bail on murder charges in the case.

Authorities are investigating the killing as they decide whether to charge Collins with a hate crime. U.S. Attorney William Nettles said he has not decided whether the killing was a hate crime and the investigation would dictate when he made that decision.

Within a week of the crime, the New Black Panther Party had seized on the case and began holding meetings in town to demand the killing be labeled a hate crime. Last week, a few people who said they were members of the party accompanied Hill’s widow to a town hall meeting during which Nettles and other state and local law enforcement discussed the case.

Many people in Newberry, however, have said they are willing to let local law enforcement continue their investigation. And they do not welcome the Panthers to town.

Willie Davis, 60, said the Panthers know U.S. history with racism and hate crimes. But it’s too early to call Hill’s murder a hate crime, he said.

“People have to be careful about jumping to conclusions,” said Davis, who will not attend the rally or march.

The New Black Panthers Party is based in Washington, D.C., and are led by Malik Zulu Shabazz, an attorney. The group is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based nonprofit that monitors hate groups and hate crimes in the United States. It is not affiliated with the Black Panther Party that made its name as a militant group in the 1960s, said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project.

Potok said his organization did not have any reports of New Black Panther affiliates in South Carolina.

However, Tiffany Gibson, a Newberry resident, said she is helping organize the rally on behalf of the Newberry Black Unity Coalition and that the group is an affiliate of the New Black Panther Party.

Gibson, a graphic designer, said racism abounds in Newberry and the dragging death case brought it to a head. She formed the coalition as a way to take action.

“If we’re going to complain and no one else is going to take action, we must do it ourselves,” she said.

The Panthers have been in the national news this month after video surfaced of two members standing outside a Philadelphia polling station in 2008. The video was related to a controversy within the U.S. Department of Justice over whether or not to prosecute the men for voter intimidation.

“Anytime you have people come in from outside with a message of hate, that always causes fear,” said Maj. Todd Johnson of the Newberry County Sheriff’s Department.

State, local and federal law enforcement officials will be in full force, Johnson said. And authorities plan to have Emergency Medical Services on standby because the rally and march are scheduled to last five hours in the blazing heat, he said.

“We’re going to make sure they have a First Amendment right to free speech,” Johnson said. “But we’re also going to make sure their First Amendment right doesn’t infringe on anybody else.”

The Black Panthers event will begin at Wise Park in the heart of an in-town black neighborhood. The group then plans to march 1.5 miles to the county courthouse.

Jack Edwards, who lives across the street from the park, said he was nervous when the Panthers held a rally there in June. And he worried about the potential for violence Saturday, from the Panthers or someone who might oppose them.

“Those are some thick bushes over there,” he said. “You never know where snipers might be.”

He would rather the Panthers not come, but if they do, he hopes police will be out in full force Saturday to keep the peace.

“We haven’t had no trouble that we need somebody else to speak for us,” he said.

In downtown Newberry, where antiques shops and cafes line Main Street, there was a nervous undercurrent among business owners. Many of them refused to comment on the event.

“I hope we don’t have to expect too much,” said Shane Wicker, an employee at the As Time Goes By antique store. “I hope nothing will be too wild.”

Theresa Wilson, 24, who works at the C.T. Summer hardware store, said she had heard all sorts of rumors about who would be coming to town as part of the rally. But she wished the Black Panthers would leave Newberry alone.

“I want Anthony Hill’s family to have peace of mind, and they’ll never have peace if they keep stirring this stuff up,” she said.

The New Black Panther Party Is The New ACORN

As Voter-Intimidation exercises go, it wasn’t much. In 2008, a lone white voter reported he had encountered two black men dressed all in black, one carrying a nightstick, at his Philadelphia polling place in a predominantly black neighborhood.

The armed man was escorted away by police, and no one reported the incident to the local district attorney. But the incident was caught on camera, making it great fodder for cable news because political campaigns were actively scouting for voter-intimidation cases they could use against opponents. Still, it seemed like the sort of incident that happens at dozens of polling places every Election Day, then quietly recedes.

Twenty-one months later, though, right-wing Bloggers can't get enough of the story, and it's starting to make it into the mainstream press. Even Sarah Palin has joined the act, tweeting: "Watch FOX's Megyn Kelly on Black Panther voter intimidation case; she knows the case; she's speaking truth; her revelations leave Left steaming."

So how did the incident become a replay of the ACORN scandal? There's some resemblance between the two: an organization with unacceptable practices and a vague connection to the Obama administration (through voter registration drives in the ACORN case and Justice Department litigation in the Panther case) becomes a tool for critics of the White House to attack it as corrupt and illegitimate.

But as in the ACORN case, the scandal is minimal (much of the ACORN hit has been discredited)—and the allegations against Obama flimsy.

Let's start with the cast of characters. The two reportedly imposing men at the Philadelphia polling station were members of a fringe group that calls itself the New Black Panther Party—much to the chagrin of the "old" Black Panther Party, which strenuously rejects the NBPP. Its leaders go by peculiar pseudo-African names (like chairman Malik Zulu Shabazz), and it is designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League.

Its ideology tends to skew toward the black supremacist and anti-Semitic.

The group typically gets attention every few years when it successfully manages to bait the national media with some nutty stand. In 2006, for example, the New Black Panther Party announced it was going to Durham, N.C., to investigate the Duke lacrosse case.

Fox News, in particular, loves it: after the Duke charges were dropped in 2007, Bill O'Reilly had Shabazz on the program, where he called syndicated conservative columnist Michelle Malkin a "whore."

Several months after the 2008 Election Day incident (and 13 days before President Obama was sworn in) the Department of Justice filed a civil lawsuit against the NBPP under the Voting Rights Act, alleging voter intimidation. In May 2009, Justice—now led by Attorney General Eric Holder, Obama's appointee—successfully obtained an injunction against King Samir Shabazz, the man who carried the nightstick, then dropped the suit, Fox News reported.

A spokeswoman at Justice says a career attorney made the call, which was then affirmed by an appointee, because "the facts and the law did not support pursuing claims against the other defendants in the case. A federal judge determined that the relief requested by the Department was appropriate."

That's where things get messy.

Starting last summer, some conservative media outlets—notably The Washington Times—began digging into the case, suggesting that because a top Obama appointee had signed off on the decision to drop charges, a move allegedly opposed by career lawyers, it provided proof that Holder's Justice Department was a bastion of political favoritism (and, by implication, racism, given that both Holder and Obama are black).

Although that story didn't go mainstream, it did cause the Commission on Civil Rights, an independent body, to take up the case. As Dave Weigel reported, there was more to that decision than met the eye: after eight years of George W. Bush appointments, the commission tilted definitively right. In addition, the star witness in the case against the NBPP, Bartle Bull, wasn't exactly impartial.

The white former Robert F. Kennedy aide, who called the incident "the most blatant form of voter intimidation I have encountered in my political campaigns in many states, even going back to the work I did in Mississippi in the 1960s," had been an outspoken critic of Obama for some time.

The commission has met several times to examine the case, but things really blew open on July 6, when Bush Justice official J. Christian Adams, who is white, suggested that Justice's voting division avoided bringing cases where defendants were black and plaintiffs were white.

Adams's testimony is questionable; there are doubts about whether he was actually present for the incidents he described, and he's refused to offer details on key questions. Critics see other credibility problems for Adams: he was, for instance, hired when Bush's Justice Department was systematically weakening the civil-rights division by forcing out career lawyers and replacing them with attorneys who had strong conservative credentials but little in the way of civil-rights experience.

This week's resolution by the NAACP blasting "racism" in the Tea Party has further fanned the flame. At its 101st annual convention in St. Louis, the nation's oldest civil-rights organization condemned the party's "continued tolerance for bigotry." Tea Party leaders heatedly rejected the criticism, and Palin dismissed it as "a diversionary tactic." To some commentators on the right, the NAACP action is rank hypocrisy, given that the group hasn't condemned the racism they see festering over at Justice.

With some help from Fox News's Kelly, the New Black Panthers story is now gaining steam. While there's little doubt that the NBPP is a fringe group, critics of the decision to drop the suit have a tough case to make. The problem is that although it may look like voter intimidation, there aren't actually any voters who filed an official complaint claiming to have been intimidated.

As Adam Serwer writes, a polling station in a predominantly black neighborhood isn't the best place to go if you're trying to scare white voters off: "I imagine that the New Black Panthers thought they were protecting black voters from some phantom white-supremacist conspiracy (their public statements say as much)." And Weigel, who's followed the case, has suggested there's not much to it either—plus, "there's no evidence the NBPP's clownish Philadelphia stunt suppressed any votes, or that they'll try such a stunt again."

Of course, even if the case against the NBPP is thin as onion paper, it's still a problem if the Justice Department is systematically screening its cases by race. So is there evidence of that beyond Adams's testimony? The department denies the charge. Spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler says in part: "The Department makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved."

Cord Jefferson of the The Root, a black-issues Web site, says the case is spurious, but that Justice must explain itself further. But Abigail Thernstrom, a white conservative member of the Commission on Civil Rights, complains that it's all light and no heat:

Get a grip, folks. The New Black Panther Party is a lunatic fringe group that is clearly into racial theater of minor importance ... This case is a one-off. There are plenty of grounds on which to sharply criticize the attorney general—his handling of terrorism questions, just for starters—but this particular overblown attack threatens to undermine the credibility of his conservative critics.

Thernstrom may be right, but she misses the point. Like the ACORN case, it's not about a real investigation; it's about staging an effective piece of political theater that hurts the Obama administration.

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Sources: Fox News,, Newsweek, The State, WXTL, Youtube, Google Maps

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