National Park Service Cancels Project Honoring Black Panther Party’s Legacy

Elijah C. Watson Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When…
University Of California Berkeley Receives Federal Funding For Black Panther Party Project
University Of California Berkeley Receives Federal Funding For Black Panther Party Project

The National Park Service has rescinded funding for a project that was supposed to honor the legacy of the Black Panther Party.

READ: University Of California Berkeley Receives Federal Funding For Black Panther Party Project

In a report from the Washington Free Beacon, the rescinding came after Chuck Canterbury, the president of The Fraternal Order of Police, wrote a letter to Donald Trump expressing “outrage and shock” that the NPS was funding the project.

“Mr. President, as far as we are concerned the only meaning they brought to any lives was grief to the families of their victims,” Chuck Canterbury wrote. “According to our research, members of this militant anti-American group murdered 16 law enforcement officers over the course of their history. Among their victims was U.S. Park Ranger Kenneth C. Patrick. He was murdered in cold blood by three members of the Black Panther Party on 5 August 1973. His killer, who remains behind bars, still considers himself a Black Panther and a ‘political prisoner.'”

“It is appalling that the National Park Service, Ranger Patrick’s own agency, now proposes to partner with [Berkeley] and two active members of this violent and repugnant organization,” Canterbury continued. “At a time when many in our nation feel strongly that memorials to aspects of the darker times in our history be removed from public lands, why would the NPS seek to commemorate the activities of an extremist separatist group that advocated the use of violence against our country—a country they perceived as their enemy? This is a despicable irony and we hope you can bring it to an end by halting [the grant] immediately.”

However, the letter does fail to also mention the instances in which police officers throughout the country brutally murdered members of the Black Panther Party, most notably leader Fred Hampton who was killed in his own bed by Chicago cops on behalf of the FBI back in 1969.

The NPS had initially given close to $98,000 to the University of California, Berkeley, for the project. Titled “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project,” it was supposed to identify “sites related to the establishment and operations of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, the greater San Francisco Bay Area” and build “a comprehensive collection of local BPP history through acquisition of additional materials from diverse sources including video oral history, photographs, news coverage and other media; disseminating publications that incorporate primary sources from BPP organizational records.”

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