Steve Doocy falsely claimed that the Justice Department “still has not explained why they dropped the case” against members of the New Black Panther Party. However, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez testified that a “default judgment was sought and obtained” against a defendant carrying a nightstick and that DOJ attorneys concluded that “the evidence did not support” additional charges.
Doocy falsely claims DOJ has not explained decision
Doocy: DOJ “still has not explained why they dropped the case.” Concluding an interview with the Media Research Center's Dan Gainor about the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division choosing not to pursue additional civil voter intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party, Fox's Steve Doocy falsely claimed: “And the other problem is Eric Holder, the attorney general, still has not explained why they dropped the case.”
Assistant AG explained DOJ's decision before Civil Rights Commission
Assistant AG Perez explained DOJ decision to proceed with default judgment in case. In his May 14 testimony before the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez stated that the Justice Department had obtained “sufficient evidence to sustain the charge” of voter intimidation against King Samir Shabazz, identified by Perez as “the defendant who had the nightstick,” and that “the default judgment was sought and obtained as it related to him.” Perez testified:
PEREZ: Based on the careful review of the evidence, the Department concluded that the evidence collected supported the allegations in the complaint against Minister King Samir Shabazz. The Department, therefore, obtained an injunction against defendant King Samir Shabazz, prohibiting him from displaying a weapon within 100 feet of an open polling place on any Election Day in the City of Philadelphia or from otherwise violating Section 11(b).
The Department considers this injunction to be tailored appropriately to the scope of the violation and the constitutional requirements and will fully enforce the injunction's terms.
Perez testified “the evidence did not support” case against others. In his testimony Perez further explained that “as it related to the other defendants in the case, [DOJ attorneys] Ms. [Loretta] King and Mr. [Steve] Rosenbaum concluded that the evidence did not support that. And that was the decision that they made.” From Perez's testimony:
PEREZ: The Department concluded that the allegations in the complaint against Jerry Jackson, the other defendant present at the polling place, as well as the allegations against the national New Black Panther Party and its leader, Malik Zulu Shabazz, did not have sufficient evidentiary support.
The Department reviewed the totality of the evidence in the applicable law in reaching these decisions.
Bush administration “dropped” criminal charges. Perez also testified that the Bush administration's Justice Department “determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes” but did “file a civil action on January 7, 2009.” From Perez's testimony:
PEREZ: Moving to the matter at hand, the events occurred on November 4th, 2008. The Department became aware of these events on Election Day and decided to conduct further inquiry.
After reviewing the matter, the Civil Rights Division determined that the facts did not constitute a prosecutable violation of the criminal statutes. The Department did, however, file a civil action on January 7th, 2009, seeking injunctive and declaratory relief under 11(b) against four defendants.
No voters have alleged intimidation stemming from incident
Civil Rights Commissioner: "[N]o citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting." In an April 23 hearing on the DOJ's decision in the case, Civil Rights Commissioner Arlan Melendez 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.” From the April 23 Civil Rights Commission hearing:
MELENDEZ: My remarks are going to be brief because I think far too much of our time has been consumed on this seemingly unnecessary investigation. Citizens should be able to vote without intimidation, and it is our Commission's duty to investigate complaints from citizens that their voting rights have been infringed.
In this case, however, no citizen has even alleged that he or she was intimidated from voting at the Fairmount Avenue Polling Station in 2008. This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the Justice Department last spring, which is why they took the course of action that they did.
This absence of voter intimidation was clear to the members of this Commission as well, or at least it should've been. Our investigation has been going on now for the better part of a year. We have wasted a good deal of our staff's time, and the taxpayers' money.
Main Justice: "[N]o voters at all in the Philadelphia precinct have come forward to allege intimidation." A July 2 article at the legal news website Main Justice 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.”
Doocy suggests nothing “like this happened during the Bush years”
Doocy alleges media hypocrisy between Bush and Obama years. Doocy also commented: “We always go back to this, Dan Gainor, and that is: Had something like this happened during the Bush years or with any Republican in office, this would be in type that big on the front page of The New York Times.”
Something “like this happened during the Bush years”
Bush-era DOJ declined to prosecute similar case in 2006. As Media Matters documented, the Bush administration's Justice Department elected not to pursue voter intimidation allegations against anti-immigrant activists, one of whom armed with a pistol, who approached Latino voters at polling places in Arizona in 2006.