A Black Panther, yes. Intimidation, no

John Sullivan reports:

A Republican poll watcher called police to allege that two members of the New Black Panthers group were intimidating voters at the polls at 12th and Fairmount, according to an attorney working with the McCain campaign on election matters.

But police and an investigator from the district attorney's office went to inquire and found no evidence of that, according to spokespeople for both offices.

The Republican attorney, Lovida H. Coleman Jr., said one of the alleged intimidators had a nightstick and was asked to leave the location by police. In a video posted on a site called electionjournal.org, police can been seen asking a man with what looked like a nightstick to leave.

"I think it had the appearance of being a serious issue," Coleman said, "but I have not found evidence of any specific harm to anyone."

Another Panther at the scene this afternoon, Jerry Jackson, said he was there to protect voters, not intimidate them.

"I'm making sure that media agitation does not disturb voters," said Jackson, a member of the 14th Ward Democratic Committee who had permission to be there, according to election officials at the scene.

Overall, the D.A.'s office had received 45 calls about a variety of complaints by mid-afternoon compared to 72 at the same time in 2004, according to spokeswoman Cathy Abookire.

"It's been remarkably quiet," she said.

Peter Berson, the supervisor at the DA’s election complaint unit, said he had received calls from reporters from as far away as Chicago about this unsubstantiated report of intimidation.

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