Black Panther Voter Intimidation Story by Fox News is Totally Fabricated (I Filmed the Video!)
Four years ago, when I was a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, I returned to Philadelphia for Election Day. From my days as a collegiate journalist, I knew that extremely wacky things occur in Philly on Election Day. On Election Day 2006, I had been barricaded out of a polling place, had a camera intentionally knocked out of my hand by a deputy of Democratic Congressman Bob Brady, and was taken away in a police car (for my own safety so I was told), before convincing a judge that I had every right to record video outside of a polling place, prompting him to immediately release me with no charges. So, in 2008, I asked Democrat and Republican friends in Philly, where I was still registered to vote, if they could get me a poll watcher's certificate so I could have solid access to the polls. Ultimately, the Philadelphia GOP procured me one.
As I later wrote in Mother Jones (I'm not repeating this tale in the fashion of Jonah Lehrer, but there's really no point in telling the same story twice!):
"On Election Day, I was working as a paid videographer for the Philadelphia Republican Party. My job was to find and document voting irregularities. (I'd worked for Democrats, including Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, in previous election cycles.) Around midday, someone called and said that he was turned away from his polling place because a man with a billy club had told him that white people weren't allowed to vote there. The caller refused to give his name, and I wrote his number and the polling place location down on a scrap of paper. (I don't know who the caller was, because at some point during the next hour, I lost the piece of paper and had no idea whose cell phone I took the initial call on.) I caught a ride to the polling place and arrived 15 minutes later.
When I got there, I saw two men—later revealed to be King Samir Shabazz and Jerry Jackson, members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, a fringe black supremacist group—standing outside the building. They were clad in some sort of paramilitary garb, and Shabazz was holding a nightstick. I immediately reached for my camera. Here's the video I shot."
When I went back to Philly for Election Day 2010, Jerry Jackson was at the same polling place. But Shabazz, who held the billy club and was more aggressive, was nowhere to be seen.
So it was no surprise that Fox News, who have played my video hundreds, if not thousands, of times (and I've never been paid a dime...but c'est la vie), found Jackson at the same polling place this morning. (See the video here.) That said, so long as he didn't have a nighstick like Shabazz, who was by far more aggressive, unstable, and confrontational, I don't think he's all that intimidating.
But Fox News will be Fox News, so you'll probably see them rehashing this story for FOUR MORE YEARS!