A New Black Panther Party leader with the words “kill whitey” tattooed on his face has been busted for allegedly carrying a loaded and unlicensed gun, according to the New York Post.
Maruse Heath, also known as “King Salim Shabazz,” the head of the New Black Panther Party Philadelphia chapter, was arrested in New York City Thursday night after police spotted him allegedly wearing a large ballistic vest. Officers then allegedly found the .25-caliber gun.
Heath, 41, had been leaving a New Black Panther Party planning meeting, the Post reported. A source told the newspaper his first phone call in custody was to New Black Panther Party national leader Malik Zulu Shabazz.
Heath was the New Black Panther Party member wearing a paramilitary uniform and carrying a baton in the infamous 2008 election video shot in front of a Philadelphia polling place.
During Heath’s arraignment Friday, his attorney argued that police “jumped” him without justification as he was leaving the meeting.
“It is no crime to belong to the Black Panther Party,” attorney Brad Foster said, according to the newspaper. He added that the New Black Panthers do “charity work within the local community, outreach to the homeless, and works with at-risk youth who are at risk of becoming criminals.”
But the prosecutor said Heath was stopped because he was wearing a large, obvious ballistic vest.
“He was stopped, and a loaded handgun was taken from his pocket,” prosecutor Christopher Ryan said.
Heath faces a minimum three-and-a-half-year sentence if convicted of possessing the gun. He’s due back in court June 26 to find out if he’ll face charges of gun possession and illegally wearing body armor, the Post reported. He is being held in lieu of $75,000 bail.