[media id="19524" embed="true" image="true" download="true"]
[Video from U.S. Commission on Civil Rights]
It was pretty obvious from the start that the whole New Black Panthers Party "voter intimidation" controversy was a Breitbart-like right-wing operation intended to gin up fear among white voters, made for heavy airplay on Fox News -- and later, to become an Obama-bashing tool, especially in the hands of Bush-appointed right-wing operatives still inside the Justice Department.
Now Ryan J. Reilly at TPM Muckraker has a great little scoop demonstrating that this whole scene in fact was being orchestrated by GOP attorneys: It turns out that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which has been devoting a great deal of energy to the matter, finally released the full two-and-a-half-minute video showing the New Black Panthers being chatted up by police outside the polling station in Philadelphia -- and then afterwards, the "poll watchers" -- lawyers hired by the GOP -- orchestrating the scene:
In the extended version of the footage, posted by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights this month, a police officer tells Morse to back off. That's when the commotion begins.
The video shows someone off-screen to Morse's left, telling the officer "I got him, I got him." A man who appears to be Chris Hill, a Republican poll watcher who was accused of intimidating voters at the polls by another woman at the location, says "Put it down. You've got enough."
Then Bartle Bull chimes in. "Don't you threaten him with your hands. You're threatening him. Don't you use your hands!"
Soon an individual seems to grab Morse's arm or his camera -- the screen moves erratically. "I'm a fucking professional videographer," Morse tells the person trying to stop him from filming. "I was paid... to come from L.A. today."
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which has doggedly pursued the Justice Department's handling of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case, released the final version of their report this week, complete with responses from all the commissioners on the panel. Two Democratic commissioners who have dissented from the investigation pointed out the additional footage in their reply and note that while the Justice Department handed over a full copy of the video, the Commission didn't see fit to post it online until this month, far after the report had been finished.
The video shows that the white Republican poll watchers who showed up to the majority African-American precinct knew exactly what kind of media sensation they had on their hands.
"We're on the same team," says another Republican poll watcher off screen.
"You're fucking up the story. Don't fuck up the story," one unidentified poll watcher tells Morse.
"You guys are lawyers, I'm a videographer," Morse says.
The USCCR issued its full report, including evidentiary material, earlier this week, and as you can see it's a pretty divided affair, largely along partisan lines -- though in fact conservative Bush appointee Abigail Thernstrom backs up her earlier concerns about the investigation with a brief but scathing dissent:
This investigation lacked political and intellectual integrity from the outset, and has been consistently undermined by the imbalance between the gravity of the allegations and the strength of the evidence available to support such charges. Some commissioners offered serious, principled critiques of the process, and questioned the evidentiary record. Their views were contemptuously ignored by the commission's majority.
The majority charges that racial double standards govern the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the Holder Justice Department. If that can be convincingly demonstrated, it will be a grave indictment of this administration.
But that evidentiary showing awaits further investigation by the Department of Justice and Congress. I applaud that investigation, and hope that it will shed more light on this important question than the tendentious report provided by the commission’s majority.
Indeed. As we explained previously:
So a little perspective is perhaps helpful here: There are indeed black racist hate groups (the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors is another). However, they are dwarfed both in size and in sheer numbers by white racist hate groups. Check the SPLC's compendium of hate groups and you'll see what I mean: they outnumber anti-white racists by about 99 to 1.
Oddly enough, we never get any reporting about these hate groups from Fox News -- except when they want to attack the Department of Homeland Security's bulletin warning about the rising likelihood of violent terrorism from right-wing extremists. Then, they're all too eager to simply whitewash away the very existence of white supremacists and far-right terrorists.