Extremism at Home: Recent Trends in Domestic Extremist Groups
New Black Panther Party Rises in Prominence
Posted: March 6, 2007
In 2006-2007, the New Black Panther Party, the most virulently anti-Semitic and racist black militant group in the United States, capitalized on media attention surrounding racially charged issues by organizing protests across the country under the guise of championing the causes of black empowerment and civil rights.
Since taking over leadership of the group in 2001, Malik Zulu Shabazz has sought to expand the organization and its influence in the African-American community by solidifying relationships with street gangs and developing a close relationship with the Nation of Islam (NOI) and its leader, Louis Farrakhan. Shabazz is now a frequent speaker at NOI events, including the NOI's annual Saviours' Day conventions in Chicago in February 2006 and Detroit in February 2007.
Shabazz could benefit from his recent reconciliation with NOI because of Farrakhan's ill health, which caused him to relinquish formal control of the NOI in September 2006. Any immediate change within the NOI could alienate large numbers of its members, who might turn to Shabazz and the New Black Panther Party.
Shabazz and his followers' brand of activism essentially consists of creating tension to generate media attention, including threatening violent action. For example, in December 2006, the group held a rally in Queens, New York, that included calls for violence against New York City police officers. During the rally, held in front of a police precinct to protest a fatal shooting by police the previous month, Shabazz pointed at police and promised revenge for any more shootings. "We will kill you!" Shabazz said. Chants at the rally included, "Fifty shots! Fifty cops!" and "Kill the pigs who kill our kids!" and among the signs were, "Death to the Pigs Who Kill Our Kids" and "Shoot back."
Due to their ability to insert themselves into controversial racially charged issues, NBPP members have frequently appeared on national television. For example, Malik Zulu Shabazz and New Black Panther Party Chief of Staff Hashim Nzinga were invited to appear on FOX and MSNBC programs numerous times over the past few years to discuss national and world issues—despite their own record of bigotry.
By cloaking their racism, anti-Semitism and conspiracy-oriented worldview in religious and civil rights principles, Shabazz and his group will likely continue to inflame the embers of bigotry and intolerance in the coming year.