In an environment where half the country wants to tear down every Confederate memorial they can get their grubby little hands on, what sense does it make to have the National Park Service forking over taxpayer money so they can build a monument to the Black Panther Party?
That was the question posed by many Americans after the news broke that the Park Service was contributing $100,000 to UC Berkeley (of course…where else?) so they could pay proper tribute to a group responsible for the murder of a federal park ranger, among other atrocities.
In their grant release, the National Park Service put a positive spin on the monument. “Committed to truthfully honoring the legacy of BPP activists and the San Francisco Bay Area communities they served, the project seeks to document the lives of activists and elders and the landscapes that shaped the movement.”
The Washington Free Beacon, which has been responsible for a lot of great reporting on this story, explains why the move was so controversial:
A captain in the Black Panther Party murdered National Park Service ranger Kenneth Patrick while he was on patrol near San Francisco in 1973. Patrick was shot three times by Veronza Leon Curtis Bowers Jr., who is currently serving a life sentence for first-degree murder. Patrick left behind a widow and three children.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the largest organization of sworn law enforcement officers with over 330,000 members, sent a letter to President Donald Trump last week expressing “outrage and shock” that the National Park Service would fund a project honoring the legacy of the Black Panther Party.
“Mr. President, as far as we are concerned the only meaning they brought to any lives was grief to the families of their victims,” wrote Chuck Canterbury, the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police. “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 said.
Thankfully, after a public reckoning, the National Park Service has confirmed that they will not be giving any taxpayer money to UC Berkeley for the project. We’re sure that will be seen as some form of “white privilege” or “white supremacy” or “white SOMETHING,” but we’re just about to the point where we couldn’t care less.