**UPDATE Below (Response from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund)
In the past 24 hours, more than a few pundits and writers have noted that the NAACP resolution accusing Tea Partiers of racism is hard to swallow when the NAACP seems unconcerned with the New Black Panther voting intimidation case. Their points would be valid by analogy only. Their points are even more valid, though, because of a direct, rather than just analagous, tie between the NAACP and the Panther case.
It was first reported here at the Washington Times that “Kristen Clarke, director of political participation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Washington, however, confirmed to The Times that she talked about the case with lawyers at the Justice Department and shared copies of the complaint with several persons. She said, however, her organization was ‘not involved in the decision to dismiss the civil complaint.’”
Ms. Clarke testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights a few months back that that account was wrong. But J. Christian Adams, the main lawyer who built the case against the Black Panthers, contradicted her when he testified to the commission on July 6. Here is the exchange between Mr. Adams and commission general counsel David Blackwood:
MR. BLACKWOOD: During the decision making process about the Panther case, did you hear that anyone at the Department was consulting with any outside groups such as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund?
MR. ADAMS: Well, I did, but we were also consulting with outside groups. We visited the Southern Poverty Law Center. We visited the Anti-Defamation League and would have probably hired them as an expert in this case if it had gone forward. Because of course the Black Panthers, they’re a militant, anti-Semitic group. They’re not just black nationalists. They hate Jews. And the ADL has an extensive database on this organization.
MR. BLACKWOOD: But the — Your communications with the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center I assume were related to the substance of the case.
MR. ADAMS: That’s correct.
MR. BLACKWOOD: Do you know whether anybody was consulting as to whether to proceed or the merits of the case with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund?
MR. ADAMS: Well, listen. This is not firsthand. But I was told by section management that NAACP members or staffers were talking with the Voting section attorney in March of 2009 and asking, “When is this case going to get dismissed” which, of course, is interesting to hear for the first time that someone’s even thinking about dismissing the case that you’re in the middle of building. And that was — It seemed strange. But it didn’t really give me much pause other than to think that’s a really strange request.
MR. BLACKWOOD: Well, all press reports indicated a conversation between Kristen Clark of the Legal Defense Fund and a Laura Coates of the Department. Who is Laura Coates?
MR. ADAMS: She is a line attorney in the Voting section, no relation to Christopher Coates.
MR. BLACKWOOD: And according to the press reports Laura Coates reported this contact, this conversation, with Kristen Clark of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund “to her superiors.” Do you know whether that occurred?
MR. ADAMS: I do. And if Mr. Coates were able to comply with his subpoena and testify under oath I’m quite confident that he would be able to share the full details of those communications as conveyed to him.
MR. BLACKWOOD: But you’re not in the position to do that.
MR. ADAMS: Other than they existed and you accurately — and that I characterized them as a request as to when the case was going to be dismissed as conveyed to me by Mr. Coates.
Mr. Coates was the top attorney directly involved in building the case. After he was subpoenaed by the commission, the Justice Department summarily transferred him to South Carolina, which just so happens to be outside the commission’s statutory subpoena range. The department has repeatedly refused to compy with or enforce the commission’s subpoenas, even though federal law mandates that all federal agencies shall cooperate with the commission.
Anyway, if, as has been believably alleged, the NAACP attorney was lobbying or actively hinting to the new Obama appointees or their “friendlies” in the “career” ranks of DoJ that DoJ should drop the Black Panther case, it makes the NAACP’s charges of racism against Tea Partiers even more tendentious. These New Black Panthers, after all, are some of the most virulently racist people around. Witness, again, this video of one of them advocating “killing crakkas” and “kill[ing] they [sic] babies.”
Racism in all forms needs to be stamped out. The NAACP should be on the side of those wanting to punish the Black Panthers, not on the side of the Panthers.
July 15, 2010: NAACP Legal Defense Fund responds:
Note from Quin Hillyer:
I was careful to include in my original report this sentence: “Ms. Clarke testified to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights a few months back that that account was wrong.” Mr. Adams contradicted Ms. Clarke. I await further investigation to find out who is right.