“Black Panther” voter intimidation in Philadelphia

Is it real, or is it ratf*cking?

At least one polling station in Philadelphia has had African-American men in “Black Panther” garb standing outside, one of them carrying a nightstick. That’s bad.

A couple of notes:

1. I’m delighted that Republicans now agree with civilized people in disliking the presence of armed and uniformed men at polling stations. They haven’t always agreed. I’d happily support a law against carrying weapons or wearing uniforms near the polls. (I’m waiting for advocates of Second Amendment rights to rise in defense of the right of the “Panthers” to keep and bear arms.)

2. What reason do we have to believe that the “Black Panthers” are genuine? Is there really still an active Black Panther presence in Philadelphia? Obviously the net effect of the event and its publicity &#8212 inevitable in the age of the camera phone &#8212 is bad for Obama. Given the history of Republican dirty tricks (as old as the “Harlem for Muskie Committee” and as recent as the “B for Barack” hoax) I wouldn’t bet much either way.

Update Apparently the answer to “Is there Black Panther actviity in Philadelphia?” is “Yes.” A reader thinks that the actual Black Panther loon in this news story looks like one of the guys in the doorway.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com