New Black Panther Party
|French wing leader||Kémi Séba|
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The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (NBPP) is a U.S.-based black nationalist organization founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1989. Despite its name, the NBPP is not an official successor to the Black Panther Party. Members of the original Black Panther Party have insisted that the newer party is illegitimate and they have firmly declared, "There is no new Black Panther Party".
The New Black Panther Party is currently led by Hashim Nzinga. Malik Zulu Shabazz announced on an October 14, 2013 online radio broadcast that he was stepping down and that Nzinga, then national chief of staff, would replace him. Chawn Kweli, who, initially, served as NBPP national spokesman replaced Nzinga as national chief of staff. Still, the NBPP upholds Khalid Abdul Muhammad as the de facto father of the movement. When former Nation of Islam (NOI) minister Khalid Abdul Muhammad became the national chairman of the NBPP from the late 1990s until his death in 2001, he, Shabazz, and many other breakaway members of the NOI followed minister Muhammad to the NBPP during this period. Nzinga served as personal assistant to minister Muhammad.
In April 2010, Malik Zulu Shabazz appointed French Black leader Kémi Séba as the representative of the movement in France. Capo Chichi has been holding the position of head of the francophone branch of NBPP.
Formation and early years
In 1987, Michael McGee, an alderman in Milwaukee, threatened to disrupt white events throughout the city unless more jobs were created for black people. He held a "state of the inner city" press conference in 1990 at City Hall to announce the creation of the Black Panther Militia. Aaron Michaels, a community activist and radio producer, was inspired to establish the New Black Panther Party.
Michaels rose to widespread attention in 2003 when he called on blacks to use shotguns and rifles in Dallas to protest against the chairman of a school board who had been taped calling black students "little niggers".
Philosophy, ideology, and criticism
The New Black Panther Party identifies with the original Black Panther Party and it claims to uphold its legacy. It also says that many others see the organization similarly. The NBPP is largely seen by both the general public and prominent members of the original party as illegitimate. Huey Newton Foundation members, containing a significant number of the original party's leaders, once successfully sued the group; their ultimate objective in doing so—to prevent the NBPP from using the Panther name—appears to have been unsuccessful. In response to the suit, Aaron Michaels branded the original Panthers "has-been wannabe Panthers", adding: "Nobody can tell us who we can call ourselves."
Although the NBPP says it sees capitalism as the fundamental problem with the world and revolution as the solution, the new party does not draw its influences from Marxism or Maoism as the original party did. Instead, it promotes the Kawaida theory of Maulana Karenga, which includes black unity, collective action, and cooperative economics. The NBPP says it fights the oppression of black and brown people and that its members are on top of current issues facing black communities across the world. Also, it notes that not all of its members are members of the Nation of Islam, although the group acknowledges universal spirituality practices within the organization.
Over time, many groups subscribing to varying degrees of radicalism have called for the "right to self-determination" for black people, particularly US blacks. Critics of the NBPP say that the group's politics represent a dangerous departure from the original intent of black nationalism; specifically, that they are starkly anti-white, and also antisemitic. The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the NBPP as a black separatist hate group and notes that its members hold black supremacist religious views. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the group's leaders "have advocated the killing of Jews and white people".
As of 2009, the NBPP claimed a few thousand members organized in 45 chapters, while independent estimates by the Anti-Defamation League suggest that the group is much smaller but is nevertheless able to attract a large turnout of non-members to its events by focusing on specific issues of local interest.
The New Black Panther Party provoked a melee outside Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's campaign headquarters after she lost a Democratic primary election to her opponent, Hank Johnson. The NBPP's Chief of Staff, Hashim Nzinga, had been acting as security detail for McKinney when he physically attacked reporters, calling them Jews and insisting that they must focus on Hank Johnson rather than on McKinney, since Johnson, he alleged, was a "Tom." In a subsequent appearance on the Fox News Channel program Hannity & Colmes, Nzinga defended these actions. He accused his interviewers of being part of a "Zionist" media complex bent on defaming African Americans and, by extension, the New Black Panthers.
In 2006, the New Black Panther Party regained the media spotlight by intervening in the 2006 Duke University lacrosse team scandal, organizing marches outside Duke University and making numerous media appearances to demand that the jury organized by then-District Attorney Mike Nifong convict the accused lacrosse players. Malik Zulu Shabazz met with the DA and asserted repeatedly that the DA's answers meant he was supporting the claims made by the NBPP, a point that was widely disputed.
On April 12, 2007, after the case brought by Nifong collapsed and the Duke Lacrosse players were exonerated, Malik Zulu Shabazz appeared on The O'Reilly Factor. He refused to apologize for his actions in the leadup to the Duke University lacrosse rape scandal, stating that he did not know whether or not anything happened to the young accuser. He stated his beliefs that the rich white families of Duke had placed political pressure on the investigation and forced the charges to be dropped. When questioned by guest host Michelle Malkin, he labeled her a political prostitute and mouthpiece for a male, chauvinist, racist Bill O'Reilly. Malkin said, "There's only one whore on this split screen and it's you, Mr. Shabazz." Shabazz replied, "You should be ashamed of yourself for defending and being a spokesman for Bill O'Reilly, who has no respect for women."
Calling the NBPP extremist, critics have cited Muhammad's Million Youth March in Harlem, a youth equivalent of the Million Man March, in which the protest against police brutality included speakers calling for the extermination of white South Africans. The rally ended in scuffles with the New York Police Department as Muhammad urged the crowd to attack officers who had attempted to confiscate firearms. Chairs and bottles were thrown at the police, but only a few in the clash suffered injuries. The Million Youth March was subsequently named an annual event.
King Samir Shabazz, a former Nation of Islam member and head of the New Black Panther Party's Philadelphia chapter, has a long history of confrontational racist behavior. He advocated racial separation and made incendiary racial statements while promoting anti-police messages in the media and on the streets of Philadelphia. He publicly announced, "I hate white people. All of them." He also suggested the killing of white babies. Shabazz was arrested in June 2013 for carrying a loaded, unlicensed weapon. The party has claimed his arrest is part of an "onslaught of attacks against the New Black Panther Party."
Alleged voter intimidation in Philadelphia
During the 2008 presidential election, poll watchers found two New Black Panther militia members shouting racial slurs outside a polling place in Philadelphia. One of the two was a credentialed poll watcher, while the other was a New Black Panther member who had brought a police-style nightstick baton. A University of Pennsylvania student, Stephen Robert Morse, was hired by the local Republican Party on behalf of the John McCain presidential campaign to tape the incident. His video aired on several news outlets throughout the country. Republican poll watcher Chris Hill stated that voters were complaining about intimidation, while the District Attorney's office stated that they had not been contacted by any voters. The New Black Panther with the nightstick was escorted away by the police.
On January 7, 2009, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil suit against the New Black Panther Party and three of its members alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 over the incident at the Philadelphia polling place. The suit accused members King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson of being outside a polling location wearing the uniform of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and said that Shabazz repeatedly brandished a police-style baton weapon. The suit sought an injunction preventing further violations of the Voting Rights Act. After the defendants did not appear for court, a default judgment was entered. On May 29, 2009, the Department of Justice requested and received an injunction against the member who had carried the nightstick, but against the advice of prosecutors who had worked on the case, department superiors ordered the suit dropped against the remaining members. On July 6, 2010, J. Christian Adams, a former lawyer for the Justice Department, testified before the Commission on Civil Rights and alleged that the case was dropped because "[w]e abetted wrongdoing and abandoned law-abiding citizens". Former Civil Rights Division Voting Section Chief Christopher Coates testified on September 24, 2010, "I am here today to testify about the Department of Justice's final disposition of the New Black Panther Party case and the hostility in the Civil Rights Division and the Voting Section toward the equal enforcement of some of the federal voting laws." (pp. 7, 22–25; pp. 8, 1–2) Abigail Thernstrom, the Republican-appointed vice chairwoman of the Commission, has written that perhaps the Panthers should have been prosecuted under section 11 (b) of the Voting Rights Act for [its] actions of November 2008, but the legal standards that must be met to prove voter intimidation—the charge—are very high. And "The incident involved only two Panthers at a single majority-black precinct in Philadelphia. So far—after months of hearings, testimony and investigation no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots."
According to an April 23, 2010 press release from the New Black Panther Party, the Philadelphia member involved in the nightstick incident was suspended until January 2010. "The New Black Panther Party made it clear then and now we don't support voter intimidation...The charges against the entire organization and the chairman were dropped. The actions of one individual cannot be attributed to an entire organization any more than every act of any member of the Catholic Church be charged to the Vatican."
Bounty for George Zimmerman's capture
Another controversy occurred in 2012 after the NBPP offered a $10,000 bounty for the "legal citizen's arrest" of George Zimmerman, the perpetrator of the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The group also stated that it believed in "a life for a life". The bounty offer was condemned and repudiated by Martin's family and others, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The NBPP's organizer, Mikhail Mohammed, said that the United States Constitution granted the right to a citizen's arrest.
Prevented from entering Canada
In May 2007, Chairman Shabazz was invited by Black Youth Taking Action (BYTA) to speak at a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and to give a lecture to students at Ryerson University. The Ryerson Students' Union (RSU) had endorsed the event as it called for grade-school curricula to acknowledge the historical contribution of African-Canadians and African-Americans, and for the Brampton, Ontario, super jail project to be dismantled. A spokesperson for the RSU later stated that support for the event was given "before they knew that Shabazz was the speaker."
Shabazz arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport as planned, but he was prevented from entering Canada by Canada border officials because of past rhetoric that violates Canadian hate laws. Although Canada's airports and borders are within the federal jurisdiction, the Ontario Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister, Monte Kwinter, justified the barring of Shabazz. Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty expressed concern about Shabazz. The press reported that Shabazz was denied entry to Canada because of a minor criminal record. Shabazz flew back to Buffalo, New York, and attempted to cross the border by car, but he was spotted by border agents and prevented from entering Canada.
The rally at Queen's Park went ahead without Shabazz, with approximately 100 people, plus at least two dozen journalists. Ryerson University canceled the planned lecture. The university administration alerted the RSU that it had received e-mails of threats of violent disruption of the event. The RSU canceled Shabazz's lecture because of safety concerns. Heather Kere, RSU's Vice-President of Education, said, "We definitely recognize there was some criticism of his views" and "we were endorsing the campaign's goals and not the individual speaker." Kere added, "He deflected attention away from the main point of the campaign. We still strongly believe in the campaign."
Hashim Nzinga, Shabazz's chief of staff, blamed Jewish groups for the incident, stating in a telephone interview, "They let these groups like the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the JDL (Jewish Defense League), which is nothing but a bunch of gangsters, dictate what happens in the world today," and "They told Canada not to let us in and Canada followed [its] rules, because this country is run from Israel." Nkem Anizor, president of the BYTA, also blamed the "Jewish lobby" for the government's decision to deny Shabazz entry to Canada, Shabazz later said, "Canada is on Malik alert," and "B'nai Brith has won this one, and I'm starting to see the power of the Jewish lobby in Canada, full force. I thought Canada was free. I think this is evidence that black people are being oppressed in Canada." Hashim Nzinga is now the National Chairman of the New Black Panther Party.
Involvement of Micah Xavier Johnson
Micah Xavier Johnson, the person who ambushed and shot at police officers in Dallas, Texas, in July 2016 after a peaceful protest against police killings of African-American men elsewhere in the United States, had "liked" the Facebook pages of several black nationalist organizations, including the NBPP, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Quanell X, the leader of the NBPP in Houston, Texas, said Johnson had been a member of that city's chapter several years earlier, for about six months. He also said Johnson had been asked to leave the group for espousing dangerous rhetoric and violating the organization's "chain of command", and that Johnson questioned NBPP's tactics, asking why they had not purchased more weapons and ammunition. In a written statement, the NBPP said Johnson was not a member of the organization and that "a simple like ... via a social media website does not represent membership, affiliation, or endorsement. It simply is what it is... a like on the page."
Criticism by former members of the original Black Panther Party
The Huey P. Newton Foundation issued a news release denouncing the New Black Panther Party. Its release read in part:
As guardian of the true history of the Black Panther Party, the Foundation, which includes former leading members of the Party, denounces this group's exploitation of the Party's name and history. Failing to find its own legitimacy in the black community, this band would graft the Party's name upon itself, which we condemn. ... [T]hey denigrate the Party's name by promoting concepts absolutely counter to the revolutionary principles on which the Party was founded. ... The Black Panthers were never a group of angry young militants full of fury toward the "white establishment." The Party operated on love for black people, not hatred of white people.
Bobby Seale, one of the co-founding members of the Black Panther Party, also spoke out against the New Black Panther Party. In a 2010 interview, he called the group's rhetoric xenophobic and described its leaders' remarks as "absurd, racial, [and] categorical".
[W]e will never, ever stoop to the low level of the mentality of a racist to just hate another person because of the color of their skin or ethnicity. We don't do that. That's not the goal objective. The goal objective is human liberation. The goal objective is the greater community cooperation of humanism. The goal objective is to get rid of institutionalized racism.
Reacting to a video of two NBPP members positioned outside of a polling place on Election Day in 2008 in Philadelphia, Seale agreed with CNN Newsroom anchor Kyra Phillips "to some degree" that the incident was voter intimidation. He also described what he saw as significant differences between the original Black Panthers and the New Black Panthers, particularly between their respective Ten-Point Programs.
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Gus Martin (June 15, 2011). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Second Edition. SAGE Publications. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4129-8016-6.
Despite the name, however, there is no direct connection between the NBPP and the original BPP.
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