The New Black Panther Party (NBPP) has a new head hater.
The virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization announced last week that its leader, Malik Zulu Shabazz, was stepping down and would be replaced by chief of staff, Hashim Nzinga.
In making the announcement on the group’s online radio broadcast, Shabazz, according to the Anti-Defamation League, said that he was resigning his post as party chairman to focus on his career as a lawyer with the Black Lawyers for Justice, an organization he founded in 1996.
For anyone concerned that the harsh tone of the NBPP will change with his departure, don’t worry.
Shabazz said he will continue to serve the party as a “spiritual guide.”
He’s been some guide.
“Kill every goddamn Zionist in Israel,” Chairman Shabazz said at a springtime protest in 2002 at B’nai B’rith International headquarters in Washington D.C. “Goddamn little babies, goddamn old ladies. Blow up Zionist supermarkets.”
But his replacement at the top of the small but loud organization has demonstrated over the years that he can sling slurs with the best them.
In August 2006, several members of NBPP served as security personnel for former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s primary campaign, which she lost. After her defeat, a reporter asked McKinney what she attributed her loss to.
Nzinga interrupted and stepped in.
“You wanna know what led to her loss? Israel,” he said. “The Zionists. You. Put on your yarmulke and celebrate.”
Beyond its anti-Semitism and black separatist rhetoric, the group has a knack for exploiting the legitimate pain and anger surrounding racially charged incidents such as the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, a black, unarmed 17-year-old who was shot to death by wannabe cop and neighborhood crime watch volunteer George Zimmerman.
Before Zimmerman was finally arrested weeks after the Sanford, Fla., shooting, the group made headlines across the country in March 2012 when Mikhail Muhammad, a NBPP leader in Florida, said the group was offering a $10,000 bounty for Zimmer’s capture.
Asked whether he was inciting violence, Muhammad said, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
Zimmerman, who argued self-defense, was later acquitted in the murder of the teenager killed as he returned home from the store with a can of iced tea and bag of candy.
“Can’t nothing but God change white America,” Nzinga said after the controversial verdict.
The veterans of the original Black Panther Party – the party of Huey Newton, Elaine Brown, David Hilliard, Panther-turned United States Congressman Bobby Rush and Fred Hampton among others – have denounced and dismissed NBPP as essentially pretend panthers and, in the words of Bobby Seale, a famous founding member of the original organization, “a black racist hate group.”
An open letter from the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, which is run by members of the original Panther Party, decries NBPP for being a hateful and unconstructive group, trying to exploit “the Party’s name and history” and failing “to find its own legitimacy in the black community.”
“The Party,” the letter said of the original group, “operated on love for black people, not hatred of white people.”
Indeed, the original Party was a militant, but non-racist left-wing organization, which operated free breakfast programs for poor children and community health clinics for their families. Party members also engaged in several high profile and deadly confrontations and shootouts with law enforcement at a time when many in black and brown inner city neighborhoods bitterly complained about police brutality.
Last week, as the New Black Panthers were changing leadership, across the country in California, the old Black Panthers – the real ones – were finalizing plans for a 47th anniversary celebration of the original party’s founding during the turmoil and progress of the 1960’s.
The 47th anniversary celebration was a multi-racial affair held last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Santa Rosa. There were speeches and documentary films and a lot of gray hair.
Elbert “Big Man” Howard, 75, one of the six founding members of the Black Panthers in Oakland, Calif., in 1966, told The Press Democrat newspaper the Party was born shortly after the assassination of Malcolm X when “a group of young guys” organized and came together because they “thought they could do something about the conditions that existed.”
“Don’t be afraid,” Howard advised today’s young activists, “to challenge situations that are not right and are not beneficial to humanity.”
He said humanity, all of humanity.
Now that’s a Black Panther.