Tuesday morning, Fox News captured video of a member of the New Black Panther Party standing outside of a Philadelphia polling station. Some voters in other locations around the country have also reported seeing New Black Panthers at their polling locations, prompting the right wing to suggest the militant organization might be engaged in voter intimidation.
One prominent conservative blog, PowerLine, ran a photo of the New Black Panther sighting under the headline, “Are the Democrats Trying to Steal Pennsylvania?”
So far, the one confirmed sighting seems to be in Philadelphia’s 14th ward, where Fox News cameras captured video of a single man standing motionlessly outside a polling site, clad in the New Black Panther uniform of all black, boots, sunglasses, and a beret. That polling location was the same one where, in 2008, a single New Black Panther holding a night stick famously got into a confrontation with a Fox News report (the man who was sighted at the location in 2012 is evidently unarmed). At the time, some prominent conservative pundits accused the New Black Panthers of intimidating voters in an attempt to guarantee an Obama victory. A Justice Department investigation led to an injunction being filed against those responsible.
This year, the right has revived the accusation, claiming that New Black Panthers have been sighted intimidating voters in key 2012 swing states. The Michelle Malkin-backed venture Twitchy.com is curating reports of New Black Panther sightings in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. The site has also circulated “unconfirmed reports” that ex-Navy SEALS are confronting members of the New Black Panthers over this alleged voter intimidation. A November 1 article in The Philly Post reported that former Navy captain Benjamin Brink had formed a team of special ops veterans, called “Seal Team November 6,” to “observe and report” on potential New Black Panther voter intimidation, particularly in Philadelphia.
However, Slate’s David Weigel believes that New Black Panther “voter intimidation” is a non-story. Philadelphia’s confirmed New Black Panther sighting, he writes, occurred in a precinct which “gave 596 votes to Barack Obama in 2008. It gave 13 votes to John McCain. … It’s a heavily black, Democratic area, which is why—four years after the first Fox freakout—no one has ever emerged to say he or she wanted to vote but was suppressed by the Panthers.