The conservative blogosphere is brewing with ominous warnings about the inevitable riots they think will come if George Zimmerman is acquitted of charges related to his killing of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. (My colleague Lauren Williams has rightly questioned this mania here.) An email this week from Everett Wilkinson, a former tea party leader in Florida who now runs something called the Nation Liberty Federation, outlines many of the leading (and recurring) conspiracy theories about the verdict's aftermath, which he naturally thinks will include riots: martial law. FEMA camps. But he offers up some of the new ones, too.
Among those is the suggestion that the New Black Panther Party is busing people to Florida for the specific purpose of inciting riots after Zimmerman presumably walks out of court a free man. Wilkinson writes:
Reports have come in from eye witnesses in Sanford, Florida that the New Black Panther Party, an extremist group that has called for the killing of George Zimmerman if he is found not guilty, is busing in thousands to that town. Sanford is the location of the trial and near the place where the shooting of Trayvon Martin by Zimmerman occurred. There have been threats of riots if Zimmerman is not found guilty and it is believed that the New Black Panther Party and other extremist groups will attempt to take advantage of racial tensions after a non guilty verdict by organizing riots.
Wilkinson points out that the New Black Panthers supposedly put out a "dead or alive" poster with Zimmerman's face on it last year—proof that the "eye witnesses" in Sanford must be right. He writes ominously, "When Zimmerman was first arrested the Black Panthers threatened to burn the whole state of Florida down." Wilkinson suggests that the Obama administration might be bringing in Russian soldiers to fight off the angry mobs (through FEMA, naturally), a claim that follows on the heels of his suggestion earlier this year that Russian intelligence was warning that President Obama was creating teams of "death squads," a story that originated on a hoax website.
Clearly Wilkinson doesn't know much about the New Black Panthers aside from the overhyped reports about them on Fox News during the past few presidential campaigns. For one thing, they probably don't need a bus. Most of their members could fit in a taxi. And they're not especially good at organizing anything, even voter intimidation. Their erstwhile leader, Malik Zulu Shabazz, got his start in DC in the 1990s while at Howard University's law school, running as a candidate for the DC city council and trying to organize boycotts of Korean merchants in DC's poor, black neighborhoods. His first moment in the limelight came after he organized anti-Semitic chants at a Howard rally in 1994. Shabazz was good at getting himself in the news and not much else. Little has changed in that regard since 1995, when now-Slate editor David Plotz wrote this seminal profile of the guy. (A sampling: "Seated in the tiny chair in the tiny room, Shabazz looks somewhat like an overgrown schoolboy—an impression magnified by the large zit erupting beneath his right nostril.")
The reports and emails from Nation Liberty Federation vastly overestimate the potential of the Panthers to mobilize people. The Panthers themselves tweeted recently that even they don't think they could organize the kind of chaos conservatives warn about, saying, "If Zimmerman is acquitted there is likely to be unrest all over America. It will be way beyond the capacity of the NBPP." (The NBPP tweet that they will not be engaging in any unlawful activity, either.)
The Nation Liberty Federation's rhetoric suggests that if there are going to be riots after a verdict, the people we might want to be worried about are the white ones. Wilkinson, who is white, has some advice for readers on protecting themselves against "flash mobs":
The obvious things you need are firearms, ammunition, maps, food, water, full tank of gas and/or “Bug Out Bag Survival Bag” and/or “Urban Survival Kit.” I would also highly recommend a CB radio or ham radio because the cell phone towers may be overloaded or shut off.
One of the reason's why Americans beat the British is because they organized as militia units. Remember also Korean shop owners that protected their shops during the LA riots. We must learn to work as teams. Talk to your friends and family and come up with a plan to protect as a unit.
We are expecting martial law declared, similar to Boston or Katrina Hurricane, in any area affected by riots or that Obama feels wants to control. Unless you like the idea of spending anytime in a FEMA Camp, I would recommend bugging out of the area at the first sign of unrest if you live in an infected area. Plan on having to be on the the move within 15 minutes of an riot…
Don’t be surprised if Russian or other foreign troops come to help the DHS! Rumor has it that Obama has positioned at least 15,000 Russian troops.
If you find yourself in the immediate area of a “flash mob,” riot or protest, leave immediately. This is not the time to be hero or argue. You will only become a victim. Hopefully you have a firearm to defend yourself, but you need to use it to help you extract from the area. In other words, "shoot, scoot and run.”
It wouldn't take many paranoid, angry gun owners to create a bloodbath in Florida after a Zimmerman verdict, a prospect that seems far more frightening than Malik Shabazz and a cab full of New Black Panthers.
This post has been revised.