Black Pan­ther Party project de­funded

South Florida Times - - FRONT PAGE - By MATTHEW DALY

WASH­ING­TON - The Na­tional Park Ser­vice has with­drawn plans to pay nearly $100,000 for a project hon­or­ing the legacy of the Black Pan­ther Party after po­lice groups com­plained to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The park ser­vice had pledged $98,000 to the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley for a two-year re­search project on the black power group, which was founded in Oak­land in 1966.

The Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice sent a let­ter to Trump ex­press­ing “out­rage and shock” that the park ser­vice would pay to honor a group as­so­ci­ated with killing a park ranger. A party mem­ber was con­victed of mur­der­ing Ranger Ken­neth Pa­trick in 1973 while he was on pa­trol at a na­tional seashore near San Fran­cisco.

Park ser­vice spokesman Jeremy Bar­num said Mon­day that a co­op­er­a­tive agree­ment” to fund the project was not fi­nal­ized, and the agency with­drew fund­ing “after an ad­di­tional re­view of the project.” He de­clined fur­ther com­ment.

Rep. Bar­bara Lee, D-Calif., called with­drawal of the fund­ing “out­ra­geous.” The Black Pan­ther Party was “an in­te­gral part of the civil rights move­ment and the pub­lic has a right to know their his­tory,” Lee said.

Lee, who rep­re­sents Oak­land, urged the park ser­vice and In­te­rior De­part­ment to pro­vide a full ex­pla­na­tion of why fund­ing for the project was dropped.

The po­lice group said in its Oct. 19 let­ter to Trump that “the only mean­ing” that the Black Pan­thers “brought to any lives was grief to the fam­i­lies of their vic­tims.”

The FOP said its re­search in­di­cated that 16 law en­force­ment of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Pa­trick, were killed by Black Pan­ther mem­bers.

“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?” the po­lice group wrote.

The Black Pan­thers formed in Oak­land to de­fend African-Amer­i­cans against po­lice bru­tal­ity and pro­tect the rights of a down­trod­den peo­ple to de­ter­mine their own fu­ture. The party scared main­stream Amer­ica with their calls for rev­o­lu­tion that were at odds with Martin Luther King Jr.'s in­sis­tence on peace­ful protest.

After the group launched armed pa­trols, Cal­i­for­nia law­mak­ers re­pealed a law that al­lowed peo­ple to carry loaded weapons in pub­lic. The Pan­thers gained na­tional at­ten­tion when they car­ried guns into the state Capi­tol in protest.

The Pan­thers even­tu­ally im­ploded, weak­ened by in­ter­nal fight­ing and by a gov­ern­ment ef­fort to un­der­mine the group. For­mer FBI Di­rec­tor J. Edgar Hoover said the Black Pan­thers rep­re­sented the na­tion's “great­est threat to in­ter­nal se­cu­rity.” The Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion moved to shut the group down.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF BLAVITY

Black Pan­ther Party

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF YOUTUBE.COM

The Pan­thers said they car­ried guns as a form of self-de­fense against po­lice bru­tal­ity.

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