Thanks But No Thanks

Malik Shabazz, of Black Lawyers for Justice, leads protesters through Baltimore. Many community leaders questioned his motives and presence in the city. (NOAH SCIALOM/EPA/Newscom)
Malik Shabazz, of Black Lawyers for Justice, leads protesters through Baltimore. Many community leaders questioned his motives and presence in the city.

Attorney Malik Shabazz, founder and president of Black Lawyers for Justice (BLFJ) in Washington, D.C., planned rallies in Baltimore amid many locally organized events during the days following the death of Freddie Gray. One BLFJ event erupted in violence, as crowds dispersed at the end of a march on April 25; Shabazz was heckled to surrender his megaphone during another rally at City Hall on May 2.

“Shabazz specializes in arriving at these very fraught events and exploiting them,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that monitors and battles hate groups and other extremists and has its roots in the anti-segregation movement. “He’s not there to find a resolution or calm things down, just the opposite.”

Shabazz has regularly and publicly demonstrated that he “is a truly amazing over-the-top anti-Semite, anti-white and anti-gay conspirator,” added Potok.

For the May 2 event, Shabazz’s organization produced a poster identifying several prominent leaders in Baltimore’s African-American community as sponsors. But Del. Jill P. Carter (D-District 41) was among those surprised to see her name on promotional materials as was attorney and former state Del. Aisha Braveboy.

“We are not affiliated with this event and have demanded that our names be removed,” Braveboy wrote on her Twitter account. In another tweet, Braveboy wrote that she, Carter and other lawyers “were appalled to [have] our names on the flier.”

The Baltimore Sun reported that attorney Gabriel J. Christian and Dayvon Love of Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle and Marvin L. “Doc” Cheatham, a former Baltimore NAACP leader, also renounced sponsorship of Shabazz’s event. At least half of the organizations and people listed on the flier were not consulted, and several names were misspelled.

Doni Glover, a Sandtown resident, editor of Bmore News and owner of DM Global marketing, was also surprised to find out he was a local sponsor to Shabazz’s rally.

“I met [Shabazz] and was very disappointed,” said Glover. “After he disrespected me, I left.”

Glover said he is wary of Shabazz, because “nobody knows where he’s from” and asserts that being in front of television cameras is his priority. “You don’t come into someone’s community and attempt to manhandle fully capable human beings. We’re trying to save our city. We are more than capable.”

On the SPLC website, Shabazz is listed under “Extremist Files” a section in which they track activities of individuals who demonstrate hateful language or actions. The profile includes several of his inflammatory public statements, including the call-and-response he led before an event at Howard University in 1994, a few years before he became leader of the New Black Panther Party.

“Who is it that caught and killed Nat Turner?” Shabazz asked, according to the transcript.

“Jews!” the crowd answered.

Shabazz: “Who is it that controls the Federal Reserve?”

Audience: “Jews!”

Shabazz: “What? You’re not scared, are you?”

Audience: “Jews! Jews!”

Shabazz: “Who is it that controls the media and Hollywood?”

Audience: “Jews! Jews!”

Shabazz: “Who is it that has our entertainers … and our athletes in a vice grip?”

Audience: “Jews!”

SPLC describes Shabazz, born Paris Lewis, as “a racist black nationalist with a long, well-documented history of violently anti-Semitic remarks and accusations about the inherent evil of white people. He is also particularly skilled at orchestrating provocative protests.”

Said Potok, “I cannot imagine any positive aspect to Shabazz visiting Baltimore.”

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