The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) has decided to draw the ire of the FBI this week with two of their members, Olajuwon Ali and Brandon Baldwin, indicted for attempting to use fraudulent information to obtain firearms for third parties. See attached indictment document. What has yet to be officially confirmed by the FBI, though widely rumored, is that these two individuals were also picked up in relation to an attempt to obtain pipe bombs in order commit a terrorist attack against the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Further rumors report that either one or both of these men admitted to Federal authorities that they were part of an effort to obtain firearms with the intent of killing as many law enforcement officers as possible following the Grand Jury Indictment decision in the Michael Brown shooting. To be fair, nothing besides the indictment information is confirmed at this point.
A lot of conservative groups and websites have jumped on this story as evidence that Eric Holder has been trying to suppress the case in the media in the interest of protecting individuals supporting the goals of the Ferguson Protesters. Humorously, the Protesters are in full on denial about the entire incident saying that both the gun charges and the pipe bomb story are lies. I think both groups are probably wrong.
The protesters are wrong about the entire story being a lie. The conservative bloggers are probably wrong about Holder suppressing a story I would assume he isn’t even aware of at this point. The gun charge specifically seems like an awfully minor offense for the FBI to be investigating if not to be used as leverage in a bigger case. Therefore, it is my opinion that the case was not widely publicized, not because of Holder, but because the charges in reference to the Arch Threat are still pending and possibly part of larger criminal conspiracy that the FBI is still attempting to unravel.
Furthermore, I have yet to see evidence that Holder has had any part in suppressing the case. Frankly, I’m not convinced he has any idea what goes on in field offices in the St. Louis Area or any other area outside of Washington. While that might sound like I’m contradicting earlier complaints I’ve had about Holder, rest assured I maintain that his influence through the justice department is being readily felt here. I just don’t think he’s basing it on any objective reality derived from the field offices of the agencies here he’s supposed to oversee. I maintain, that if he was going to interfere in the investigation of the NBPP, it seems like there would be a lot more effective ways of going about that then to wait until an indictment was already reached.
Moving on from the Holder issue, I have seen it printed that one or both of the recently indicted individuals above were either leaders, or the leader, of the New Black Panther Party in St. Louis. This does not appear to be the case. However, it should be noted that the ever increasing number of “organizations” and “coalitions” being formed throughout the region is making it difficult to keep track of group affiliation.
I have discussed this topic before in my entry, “Organizational Overlap.” However, it would seem that these groups have become even more complicated lately.
The biggest NBPP player in the area is either Maurice Millere or Malik Shabazz. Shabazz appears far more frequently in the media than Millere, who seems unable to even play at being anything more than a violent militant. Shabazz is the former national director of the NBPP until 2013, as well as founder and current board member of the militant group AADL which is run by Millere. However, Shabazz is never subtitled with any of these other organizations but simply the Black Lawyers for Justice (BLJ).
The BLJ and NBPP are both part of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition which also contains the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS, led by Jamala Rogers) and the Universal African Peoples’ Organization (UAPO, led by Zaki Baruti who is also the spokesman for the Mike Brown Leadership Coalition). The coalition also contains Anthony Shahid, State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, Tauheed Youth Group (TYG), Moorish Science Temple (MST), Nation of Islam (NOI) – Leader, Akbar Mohammed (Mosque 28), and State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nedal.
OBS and the UAPO along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are a part of another organization known as the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression. Zaki Baruti (UAPO) and Jamala Rogers (OBS) are the co-chairs of this organization.
The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression appears again as part of the Ad Hoc Committee for Justice on Behalf of Michael Brown along with the TYO, OBS, NBPP, MST, UAPO, and NOI Mosque 28 (which is located on W. Florissant.)
Many of these same organizations appear again in the “Don’t Shoot Coalition” including Amnesty International, Coalition Against Police Crimes an Repression, NBPP, OBS, and UAPO along with numerous others.
The bottom line is that it has become common to see organizations within organizations being used to distance each other from any type of responsibility for their groups’ actions. If I’m a member of organization A and B. I can claim only allegiance to A when B is outed as doing something illegal or morally reprehensible. Since Black Nationalism is a common thread in many, though not all, of these organizations I can also accuse people of being racist for assuming that I belong to both A and B when I’m only claiming allegiance to A at the moment. Of course, the fact that we’re talking about organizations that can have as many as five to ten layers worth of connections makes it much more difficult and confusing to unravel.