A member of the New Black Panther Party was spotted by a local Fox station today at the same polling location at which he was videotaped two years ago. His presence at that facility in 2008, along with a nightstick-wielding colleague, led to a controversial voter intimidation case that has dogged the Obama administration for over a year and a half.
Fox provided a photo of the individual and reported that he was seen outside the polling place “wearing a pin that indicated his party affiliation, along with a black hat, sunglasses and leather coat.” The polling location, Guild House West, is located in a majority African-American neighborhood in northern Philadelphia.
The individual appears to be Jerry Jackson, who had a poll-watching certificate back in 2008 and was originally named in the civil voter intimidation case bought in the waning days of the Bush administration. The Obama administration did not pursue the case against Jackson or the national party, but did obtain an injunction against fellow NBPP member King Samir Shabazz, who carried a nightstick.
Charles Mirarchi of the City of Philadelphia confirmed to TPMMuckraker on Tuesday that Jackson holds a poll-watching certificate for 2010. The Philadelphia Republican Party was not yet aware of Jackson’s presence at the polling location when contacted by TPMMuckraker.
The man who appears to be Jackson was not holding a weapon today, and there are no reports thus far that he was doing anything illegal. Shabazz, who was carrying the nightstick in 2008, did not appear to be with Jackson at the polling location. The injunction bans Shabazz from coming within 100 feet of a polling location with a weapon.
Fox reported that the man who appears to be Jackson seen at the polling place on Tuesday would not answer questions, “but was apparently working at the polls as a volunteer and greeting voters.” Philadelphia elections officials said there were no reports of voter intimidation at the polling location, Fox said.
But the fact that the member of the fringe extremist group is back at a poll watcher at the same location that sparked such controversy in 2008 could add fuel to the investigation by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the broader investigation into the enforcement of voting laws by the Justice Department’s Inspector General. Republicans are expected to launch an investigation as well if they take back the House of Representatives.
Late update: Fred Voigt, a deputy city commissioner in Philadelphia, told TPMMuckraker that the District Attorney went out to the polling location and found nothing illegal. “There was one guy there, doing nothing. The DA was out there, the judge of elections,” Voigt said. “There wasn’t anything last time by the way, other than the film clip by the two performers. There wasn’t even anything like that this time, there was a guy standing there doing nothing.”
Late, late update: The Justice Department confirmed that federal officials are in Philadelphia, but declined to comment specifically on Jackson’s presence at the polling location. “Department attorneys are on the ground in Philadelphia,” DOJ spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa told TPMMuckraker.
Late, late, late update: Philadelphia’s Fox 29 added video of their interview, which is embedded below. J. Christian Adams, a former Civil Rights Division lawyer who quit the Justice Department and testified against the Department’s handling of the case, has identified the man as Jackson. The Fox 29 story does not identify the man.