New Black Panther who sparked voter intimidation probe in 2008 arrested on gun charges

A member of the New Black Panther Party who sparked a federal probe for voter intimidation in 2008 has been arrested on gun charges in New York.

King Samir Shabazz, a 41-year-old Philadelphia street preacher and national field marshal for the New Black Panther Party, was arrested late Thursday in Harlem after NYPD officers spotted him with wearing a bulletproof vest and a loaded, unlicensed handgun.

Shabazz was arrested without incident at about 10:30 p.m. on June 20 after officers stopped him to talk about the vest under his clothing, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told

"When they stopped to talk to him about it and patted him down for their own safety, they discovered that he was armed with a loaded, illegal five-shot revolver," Browne wrote in an email.

Shabazz, whose real name is Maruse Heath, is best known for bringing a club to a North Philadelphia polling station on Election Day in 2008, leading to a federal probe on voter intimidation.

Shabazz was jailed on $75,000 bail on charges of illegal gun possession and illegal wearing of body armor. He faces a mandatory minimum of 3 ½ years and a maximum of 15 years in jail if convicted, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

Shabazz, whose attorney could not be reached for comment, was in New York to help plan a September march commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Million Youth March. He is scheduled to appear in a Manhattan courtroom on Wednesday.

Black Panther leaders have dubbed Shabazz — who has previously called for the extermination of white people — a "political prisoner" and plan a rally and fundraiser in his honor on Monday night at a Harlem restaurant, the newspaper reports.

Malik Shabazz, national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told that he will serve as King Samir Shabazz’s attorney and said his client was unlawfully searched by NYPD cops.

“He was the victim of an illegal and unlawful stop-and-frisk by the New York City Police Department,” Shabazz told “The evidence will show that there was no reason to stop him.”

Shabazz said his client’s appearance gave no indication that he was wearing body armor.

“His appearance was normal,” Malik Shabazz said. “We’re fighting for a judge to throw the case out.”