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Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Duke Rape Case: Prosecutor Mike Nifong Shares Evidence with Black Panthers

updated: May 6, 2006

Mike Nifong, District Attorney Durham, NC Malik Zulu Shabazz - New Black Panther Party
Mike Nifong - Durham District Attorney & Malik Zulu Shabazz - New Black Panther Party met in Durham, NC, on Monday, May 1, 2006.

Also, Mike Nifong won his primary election on Tuesday, May 2nd, and will remain the Durham District Attorney. Regarding the election, Newsweek said:

One of Nifong's opponents is a lawyer named Freda Black, who was passed over for the D.A. job. Black is—or was, until the Duke case—better known around town than Nifong, largely because she won a conviction in a celebrated murder case. Nifong's other opponent is a lawyer with no prosecutorial experience named Keith Bishop. Nifong and Black are white; Bishop is African-American. Durham voters are about 40 percent black, so Nifong almost surely needs to win black votes to keep his job.

Nifong won by 3 percent (Nifong: 45%, Black: 42%, Bishop: 13%).

About the meeting with the New Black Panthers, CommonVoice.com reported:
Malik Zulu Shabazz, an attorney with the New Black Panthers, told Fox News Channel Tuesday that the prosecutor in the Duke rape case shared information and evidence with the Panthers during a meeting.

In an interview with Fox News Channel's Brian Kilmeade and Juliet Huddy, Shabazz said that members of his group, who are protesting the treatment of the alleged victim of a rape by the Duke University lacrosse team, met with the prosecutor to review his evidence against the students.

Shabazz claims the evidence shows the white lacrosse players are guilty of sexually assaulting the victim, who's a black woman.

When Fox's Kilmeade told the Black Panther leader that the victim's father didn't want them in Durham, Shabazz said that the victim's father should keep his mouth shut.

N&O reported - New Black Panthers Demonstrate, but Not on Duke Campus:

About 40 members of the New Black Panthers for Self Defense were turned away Monday at the gates of Duke University. The group had said it would confront lacrosse players about rape accusations made by a woman hired to dance at a team party.

Chanting "black power" and demanding a guilty verdict against two Duke athletes arrested in the case, the New Panthers then marched past the student hangouts along Ninth Street to rally at the Buchanan Boulevard house where the party was held.

The players charged, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, are white. Their accuser is black.

"This is a hate crime, and we want a conviction," declared Malik Zulu Shabazz, the national chairman of the New Panthers, a black separatist group based in Atlanta..

Barry Sauders from The News & Observer - Panthers right on, finally:
Shabazz and his New Black Panther Party were in Durham, almost at Duke's door, to declare "guilty" the white Duke lacrosse players accused of raping a black dancer hired from an escort service.

I dug Shabazz's mantra of "respect for black women" but was disappointed by his failure to acknowledge that, in many instances, "The Man" doing the disrespecting is now black.

How, I asked, can you criticize anyone else without holding black men accountable for their part in the tawdriness-for-hire, the raunchy videos, the demeaning song lyrics?

New Black Panthers - Yes, Defense Attorneys - No

Why is Mike Nifong interested in sharing evidence, the day before his primary election, instead of gathering evidence? Newsweek reported:
After giving about 70 interviews when the case first broke in the press a month ago, Nifong is no longer saying much to reporters. Nor, it appears, is he doing much talking to lawyers for the defense. On April 13, Nifong met with three defense lawyers, Bill Thomas, Butch Williams and Wade Smith. According to Williams, when the lawyers got into exculpatory evidence, like the photos, Nifong essentially cut them off, saying that he knew much more about the case than they would ever know, and that he intended to indict two players.

Kirk Osborn, the lawyer for indicted player, Reade Seligmann, tried to share evidence with Mike Nifong. But Nifong wasn't interested. The NY Times reported:
Mr. Osborn said he hoped Mr. Nifong would drop the charges, but he was unable to talk with him.

"I've known the guy for 25 years," Mr. Osborn said. "I went over and thought surely he'd listen to me on it. And he sent some messenger out and said: 'I saw you on the TV saying your client was absolutely innocent, so what do we have to talk about?' He wouldn't even see me himself."

USA Today - Nifong wins election to remain as D.A. in Durham, N.C:
DURHAM, N.C. — The district attorney prosecuting members of the Duke University lacrosse team on rape charges defeated two opponents in a Democratic primary Tuesday.

Michael Nifong, who has received national attention over the Duke case, said he expects the two men charged to go to trial before the year ends. Had he lost, Nifong would have left office in January.

update: May 6, 2006

The News & Observer, May 6, 2006, Study says black vote aided Nifong:
A precinct-by-precinct analysis of results from the Democratic primary for district attorney shows incumbent Mike Nifong won in large part on the strength of his support from Durham's black voters.

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