Founded in Dallas, the group portrays itself as a militant, modern-day expression of the black power movement. Although it frequently engages in armed protests of alleged police brutality, non-racist, left wing members of the original Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 1970s have rejected the new Panthers as a “black racist hate group” and contested their hijacking of the Panther name and symbol.
In Its Own Words
“Our lessons talk about the bloodsuckers of the poor. … It’s that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating, Johnny-come-lately, perpetrating-a-fraud, just-crawled-out-of-the-caves-and-hills-of-Europe, so-called damn Jew … and I feel everything I’m saying up here is kosher.”
— Khalid Abdul Muhammad, one of the party’s future leaders, Baltimore, Maryland, February 19, 1994.
“Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel! Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies! Blow up Zionist supermarkets!”
— Malik Zulu Shabazz, the party’s former national chairman, protesting at B’nai B’rith International headquarters in Washington, D.C., April 20, 2002.
“I hate white people. All of them. Every last iota of a cracker, I hate it. We didn’t come out here to play today. There’s too much serious business going on in the black community to be out here sliding through South Street with white, dirty, cracker w---- b------ on our arms, and we call ourselves black men. … What the hell is wrong with you black man? You at a doomsday with a white girl on your damn arm. We keep begging white people for freedom! No wonder we not free! Your enemy cannot make you free, fool! You want freedom? You going to have to kill some crackers! You going to have to kill some of their babies!”
— King Samir Shabazz, former head of the party’s Philadelphia chapter, in a National Geographic documentary, January 2009.
“It’s the cracker doing that…our people have always fought against the cracker.”
— Krystal Muhammad speaking about Jim Crow laws in Soweto, South Africa, June 2016.
The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) is a black separatist group that believes black Americans should have their own nation. In the NBPP’s “10 Point Platform,” which is taken from the original Black Panther Party, the NBPP demands that black people be given a country or state of their own within which they can make their own laws. They demand that all black prisoners in the United States be released to “the lawful authorities of the Black Nation.” They claim to be entitled to reparations for slavery from the United States, all European countries and “the Jews.”
The NBPP’s views are anti-white and antisemitic. Its early leaders blamed Jews for the 9/11 terrorist attacks and slavery. The late party chairman Khalid Abdul Muhammad has said, “There are no good crackers, and if you find one, kill him before he changes.” A document on the NBPP website titled “The Nationalist Manifesto” claims that white men have a secret plan to commit genocide against non-white races. It also refers to black people who condone mixed-race relationships as the “modern day Custodians [sic] of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
Many NBPP members are also current or former members of the Nation of Islam who vocalize deep resentment toward Jews because they think the Holocaust garnered much more sympathy and reparations for Jews than African Americans have received as the victims of “the black holocaust” —slavery and Jim Crow. They also believe Jewish businesses prey on black communities. Former NBPP Chairman Khalid Muhammad has referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers.”
The New Black Panther Party, originally founded in 1989 by Dallas radio personality Aaron Michaels, hoped to engage black citizens in community activism. One of its main goals was to increase black representation on the Dallas school board. NBPP also attempted to reduce drug dealing in certain black neighborhoods.
By 1993, the group had moved into extremism and organized the National Black Power Summit and Youth Rally, which drew around 200 attendees. Former California grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Tom Metzger, was a featured speaker at the event. Although Metzger is no friend to African Americans, both he and NBPP members share a common belief that white and black people should live in separate countries. At that 1993 meeting, Michaels claimed that the NBPP had formed 20 chapters.
The NBPP has no connection to the original Black Panther Party, whose members have heavily criticized the group. An open letter first referenced in 2007 from the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, which is run by members of the original Black Panther Party, calls the NBPP a hateful and unconstructive group. Bobby Seale, a founding member of the original Panthers, called the organization “a black racist hate group.” Fahim Minkah and Marvin Crenshaw, original Panthers from Dallas, Texas, won an injunction preventing the group’s first leader from using the New Black Panther Party name or its logo. The injunction was never enforced and NBPP continues to use the pilfered name and logo.
In 1994, Khalid Muhammad joined Aaron Michaels’ mission, the same year that he was dismissed as spokesman for the Nation of Islam for making inflammatory remarks at Kean College:
“You see, everybody always talk about Hitler exterminating 6 million Jews. … But don’t nobody ever asked what did they do to Hitler? What did they do to them folks? They went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped, they turned around and a German, in his own country, would almost have to go to a Jew to get money. They had undermined the very fabric of the society.”
The statement made national news and the entire U.S. Congress denounced him for his language.
That same year, Muhammad was shot in the leg at a speaking engagement in Riverside, California. The shooter, James Bess, who also shot five of Muhammad’s bodyguards, was a former Nation of Islam minister from a Seattle chapter. After the shooting, Bess was jumped and disarmed by members of the audience, was arrested and received a sentence of 15 years to life.
Once he was released from the hospital, Muhammad spoke at Emmanuel Evangelistic Temple, where he alleged that more shooters were involved despite the Riverside police stating that they found no proof to validate his theory. He also used his time at the podium to claim that O.J. Simpson was innocent of murdering of his wife, despite the fact that he “left his black wife and decided to live a life sleeping with the enemy,” and described himself as a linebacker “willing to open up a hole, breaking crackers’ necks and backs.”
In May 1996, Muhammad and Michaels worked together in an effort to force the resignation of Dallas School Board President Bill Keever, after he had three New Black Panther Party members arrested for disrupting a board meeting.
The group was already upset by Keever’s appointment, which they saw as a continuance of racial inequities and discrimination in the school system. Keever, a Caucasian in a district where students of color were the majority, was elected on the heels of a scandal involving school board member Dan Peavy. Some of Peavy’s phone conversations, where he frequently used the N-word to describe a number of individuals, including students, were leaked, and Peavy was forced to step down.
After the arrests, Michaels and Muhammad issued a citywide call to action, requesting that black men come armed to the next school board meeting. They followed this up with a press conference at a Dallas mall where members of the Nation of Islam acted as security.
At the event, Muhammad told the audience, “The white man is the devil” and quipped, “I almost said Jew York City. But I won’t say that. It might make someone upset. I almost said Jew-nited States of America. But I won’t say that. It might make someone upset.”
On June 7, 1998, James Byrd Jr., was murdered in Jasper, Texas, by three white men who chained the black man to the back of a truck and dragged him to death. In the wake of the horrific murder, Khalid Muhammad led a group of armed NBPP members to Jasper, where members confronted a group of Klansmen who rallied in the town.
About 50 Panthers, a dozen of whom carried rifles and shotguns, faced off against about 20 Klan members. Police officers erected a barricade to separate the two groups. NBPP members twice tried to break through and confront the KKK protesters, but failed to do so. Frustrated, Muhammad called for his followers to attack the police, shouting: “Black people, we can take these bastards. We can run over the damn police and take their ass. Who’s with me?” Police officers attempted to evacuate the Klan members, but a small group of Panthers surrounded one of their vehicles and started rocking it back and forth. As a result, one NBPP member was arrested. No further violence occurred.
In September 1998, Khalid Muhammad organized the Million Youth March in New York City. Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attempted to prevent the group from holding the event, denying them a permit and referring to the rally as a “hate march.” But the NBPP won a court battle, forcing the city to allow the event. Malik Zulu Shabazz, the future leader of party, played a prominent role in organizing the event.
On September 5, about 6,000 people attended the march while 3,000 police officers stood at the ready. A few minutes after the rally was scheduled to end, police began to disperse the crowd, resulting in a scuffle that left 16 police officers and 12 attendees injured. Muhammad reportedly encouraged the crowd to attack officers with chairs and bottles and even to take the officers’ guns if attacked. Shortly after this event, Muhammad became the national chairman of the NBPP, making him the leader of the organization. The event was held annually for three years with smaller crowds attending each year, never reaching anywhere near the million youths that the name described.
In 1999, Muhammad made news when he and his aide, Quanell X, claimed the FBI had uncovered a Nation of Islam (NOI) plot to kill them, a claim the FBI publicly denied making. Muhammad described to the Village Voice why he thought the threat might be real, saying that NOI zealots “believe all of Minister Farrakhan’s enemies should be eliminated before he dies."
Quanell X was the former national youth minister for NOI. In 1995, X was quoted as saying Jews should “knuckle up, put your boots on, because we’re ready and the war is going down” and claiming, “All you Jews can go straight to hell.” In 1999 he advised a rally crowd, stating “If you feel that you just got to mug somebody because of your hurt and your pain, go to River Oaks and mug you some good white folks. If you’re angry that our brother is put to death, don’t burn down your own community, give these white folks hell from the womb to the tomb.”
X was later kicked out the Nation of Islam. The accounts of why he left vary. The Houston Press reports it was for a “moral infraction.” The Los Angeles Times claims it was due to his “hate filled diatribes,” while X has said it was to start his own paramilitary organization called Mental Freedom Obtains Independence (MFOI). X would eventually leave MFOI and join the New Black Panther Party.
Muhammad took Quanell X under his wing, along with NOI member and law student Malik Zulu Shabazz. In 1994, Shabazz invited Muhammad to speak at Howard University, where he was attending school. Muhammad went on to work for Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry but was fired for making assertions “regarding other people’s cultural history, religion and race that do not reflect the spirit of my campaign, my personal views or my spirituality.” By 1998, Shabazz was speaking on behalf of the group that Muhammad was now leading.
In June 2000, Quanell X and NBPP protested the execution of Texan Shaka Sankofa, who was charged with capital murder for robbing and killing Bobby Lambert in a Safeway grocery store parking lot in 1981. Sankofa admitted to committing other robberies, but claimed he was innocent of the murder until the end, calling it a “state sanctioned lynching.” The group marched into a near-empty downtown Huntsville, Texas. Muhammad held a news conference a month later where he railed against a former group member, William Collins, who appeared on the 2000 season of the reality-TV show “Big Brother” as “Mega,” where he gave a massage to a white contestant. Muhammad told those assembled, “He knows the white woman is the devil. Not a devil, the devil.”
On February 17, 2001, Muhammad unexpectedly died of a brain aneurysm and Shabazz took over as chairman of NBPP. His right-hand man, Hashim Nzinga, became NBPP’s chief of staff.
On October 31, 2001, Shabazz co-sponsored the “Muslims for Truth and Justice” conference at the National Press Club, in which he and a handful of Muslim clerics blamed the Jews for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “Zionism is racism, Zionism is terrorism, Zionism is colonialism, Zionism is imperialism, and support for Zionism is the root of why so many were killed on September 11,” he proclaimed. Shabazz would later claim that Jews had received advance warning of the attacks, a conspiracy theory that is also highly popular in white supremacist and neo-Nazi circles.
Shabazz worked to improve relations between the NBPP and the Nation of Islam, which were increasingly adversarial after Muhammad’s transition to NBPP. In 2005, Louis Farrakhan invited Shabazz to be the co-convener of the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March. The groups also appeared together at events calling for reparations for black slavery. That friendly relationship between the two groups has continued.
In August 2006, several members of the NBPP served as security personnel for former U.S. Rep. from Georgia Cynthia McKinney’s primary campaign. After McKinney lost the primary, a journalist asked her why her campaign failed. Hashim Nzinga, the NBPP National Chief of Staff, interrupted: “Why do you think she lost? You wanna know what led to the loss? Israel. The Zionists. You. Put on your yarmulke and celebrate.”
On November 4, 2008, two NBPP members clad in military-style fatigues and berets showed up at a Philadelphia polling station, supposedly to protect black voters from having their rights violated. King Samir Shabazz, the local NBPP chapter leader, brandished a nightstick and made threatening remarks to voters. An eyewitness claimed that Samir Shabazz said, “Cracker, you are about to be ruled by a black man.” Jerry Jackson, a certified Democratic poll watcher who also wore NBPP garb, accompanied him. Police officers arrived at the scene and forced Samir Shabazz to leave, though they allowed Jackson to stay. After the incident, the NBPP distanced itself from Samir Shabazz’s actions and suspended the Philadelphia chapter.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed civil charges of voter intimidation in January 2009 under the Voting Rights Act against King Samir Shabazz, Jerry Jackson, the New Black Panther Party and Malik Zulu Shabazz. (The Bush Administration, which filed the charges in its last hours, chose not to pursue a criminal case.) The DOJ won the case by default in April 2009 when the defendants did not appear in court. But DOJ officials under the Obama Administration decided to drop most of the charges, saying the evidence did not substantiate the allegations that votes were suppressed or that the party or its leader were culpable. They did, however, get an injunction against Samir Shabazz that forbade him to bring a weapon to any Philadelphia polling place until 2012.
In January 2010, Samir Shabazz was reinstalled as head of the newly reactivated Philadelphia chapter. On April 23, 2010, he wrote in a reference to the prosecutors who investigated the case against him, “You are nothing more than a modern day lynch mob.” In May 2010, Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez defended the Department of Justice’s decision to drop the charges. He cited local officers’ decision to allow Jackson to remain when they removed Samir Shabazz (suggesting that Jackson was not intimidating voters) and the fact that there were no similar incidents at other polling stations. These facts, Perez argued, exonerated Jackson, Malik Shabazz and the NBPP from charges of voter intimidation. Nevertheless, a wide array of right-wing conservative individuals and groups attacked the DOJ’s decision as supposedly revealing the Obama administration’s refusal to pursue cases against bigotry by African Americans.
The NBPP made national headlines in March 2012 when Mikhail Muhammad, a New Black Panther leader in Florida, said the NBPP was placing a $10,000 “bounty” on neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an African American, in Sanford, Florida. When asked whether he was inciting violence, Muhammad said, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” The group also called for the mobilization of 10,000 black men to capture Zimmerman, who shot the unarmed teen as he was walking through a gated community wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying only some candy and iced tea. The lack of charges against the gunman, who claimed he was attacked by Martin, sparked nationwide outrage.
Major conflict arose in October 2013 when Shabazz announced he was stepping down from the group to pursue his law career. His second in command, Hashim Nzinga, was named as chairperson, and longtime NBPP group member Chawn Kweli became chief of staff. A portion of NBPP’s membership had not been previously apprised of his decision nor did they approve. In reaction, this faction attended an NBPP summit and appointed all new leadership, voting in Krystal Muhammad as their chair.
The transition was fairly quiet outside the organization. Krystal Muhammad put out a statement about the change in the group’s leadership that went largely ignored by the media. Malik Shabazz and Hashim Nzinga started a new group with longtime NBPP members Chawn Kweli and King Samir Shabazz. They called it the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, but their antics were regularly mistaken by the media as those of the New Black Panther Party, a mistake the new group did not bother to correct.
The NBPP, run by Krystal Muhammad, did attempt to address this confusion. In 2015, the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, chaired by Nzinga, held a National Summit in Atlanta that became violent when his group and members of the Black Liberation Movement clashed. NBPP put out an online statement clarifying that they were not the group involved in the melee and condemning the other group’s actions.
The rivalry between the groups increased. NBPP began occasionally calling themselves the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in speeches and marketing materials to usurp the name from Shabazz and Nzinga. The New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, in turn, got access to NBPP’s Facebook page and plastered their own images across it.
On July 7, 2016 black nationalist Micah Johnson killed five police officers at a Dallas, Texas, rally protesting police shootings. Johnson was a former member of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, but news outlets assumed it was NBPP and Muhammad found herself having to clarify that she had never seen or heard of Johnson before. She followed it up by giving a tacit endorsement of his actions, telling Voice of America, “My moral judgement is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. What happened in Dallas, who knows, this could be happening all across America. Because people are fed up. You cannot continue to brutalize human beings and think that some human beings are going to fall for it.”
The NBPP has spent recent years protesting alleged police brutality, having showdowns with other activist groups and reaching for headlines. They have also conducted paramilitary-style trainings where they learn to use the firearms they carry during most of their events.
In August 2014, NBPP took issue with gun rights group Open Carry Texas, who wanted to hold an open carry demonstration in a predominantly black neighborhood. Muhammad told Open Carry Texas, “You’re coming into the Fifth Ward and to the black community as insurgents.”
Earlier in the year, in February 2014, NBPP rallied in Jasper, Texas, along with Quanell X against the killing of local African American man Alfred Wright. White supremacists confronted the armed Panthers, and one had to be rescued from them by law enforcement.
In April 2016, NBPP went to Dallas to stand guard in front of the local Nation of Islam Mosque that the Anti-Muslim group Bureau of American Islamic Relations (BAIR) planned to protest. They also protested the death of Kendole Jackson in the city of Gretna, Louisiana, after which Muhammad boasted online that “WE SHUT THE CITY OF GRETNA PIG DEPARTMENT DOWN.”
During the summer of 2016, Muhammad represented NBPP at the World Wide Pan-African Convention in Soweto, South Africa. During her presentation she called the civil rights movement “a scheme and a scam” and told the audience Jim Crow laws were “the cracker doing that … our people have always fought against the cracker.” She followed this up with an interview on RT (formerly Russia Today) to discuss the group and racism in America.
The next month, on July 5, 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, local Alton Sterling was shot and killed by members of the Baton Rouge Police Department. The NBPP arrived on site almost immediately, ready to protest what they called the “Baton Rouge Pig Department.” Some members were arrested at the protest. In October 2016, Muhammad held a press conference to announce that the group would be filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department, the Baton Rouge Police Department and the Louisiana State Police because the charges against NBPP members and over six dozen others had not been dropped.
In May 2017, the group organized an event described as a “New Black Panther Party call for National Day of Action for Justice for Alton Sterling, Saturday, May 6th at 12:00 pm at the Baton Rouge, Louisiana Pig Department / Airline & Goodwood. Dress Code, ALL BLACK. Black Power!!!” During a May 2 protest, the group attempted to block Airline highway in Baton Rouge, and three people were arrested including Muhammad, who was charged with aggravated obstruction of a highway, failure to disperse, resisting an officer and illegal carrying of a weapon because she had a concealed revolver in her handbag.
On NBPP’s day of action, a little over a dozen protesters showed up, as did their opposition, the far-right anti-government group Oath Keepers. One Oath Keeper was arrested.
Muhammad made her way to Jackson, Mississippi, to take part in another protest at the state capitol. The June 14 event was a call for justice for two recently slain men, Phillip Carrol and Jeremy Jackson. NBPP vowed to keep boots on the ground and continue investigating their deaths themselves.
The group was back in Baton Rouge in July 2017 for the anniversary of Alton Sterling’s death where they marched to the police station and were met by officers who commanded them to disperse. As the police began to put up a barricade, a scuffle broke out. An officer and an NBPP member were both shot with stun guns and multiple members, including Muhammad, were arrested.
On August 19, 2017, Muhammad and other NBPP members were in Houston, Texas, reacting to Charlottesville’s “Unite the Right” rally by joining a Black Lives Matter rally to “Destroy the Confederacy.”
On a 2018 New Black Panther Party podcast co-hosted by deputy field marshal Minister Samir Shabazz, who is also minister of defense for the Black Riders Liberation Party, Shabazz introduced himself with the statement: “The white man is the devil. Let’s get right down to business. In 2018, any negro coon lips and dares say all white people aren’t bad should be sent to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with slavery syndrome or you should do the inevitable to yourself.”
On the same show, Shabazz was described by his co-host as the embodiment of the New Black Panther Party and all that it stood for.