NPS Awards Grant for Black Panther Project

In Sept. the National Park Service awarded a $97,999.70 grant to the University of California, Berkeley for the “Black Panther Party Research, Interpretation & Memory Project.” I would like to take a few moments to offer some suggestions on how NPA can ensure the project provides a full and truthful picture of the Black Panthers.

There are probably some of you wonder why the National Park Service even has an interest in the Black Panther Project. According to the press release announcing the grant the National Park Service is interested in identifying Bay Area sites that helped shape the Panther Party and documenting the lives of party activist and elders.

Ok, I guess I can see the connection. So, with that in mind let me offer some suggestions.

Over the years the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, and Weather Underground, all closely related and intertwined organizations which shared members and political objectives, have been implicated in the killing of 35 police officers. I recommend that the NPS add the sites of these killings to their list of those which have helped shape the Black Panther Party, its elders, and activists.

I know that including sites as far away as New Orleans, Philadelphia and NYC may be outside the scope of the project. So, let’s stick closer to home by focusing on officers killed within driving distance of the Bay Area.

Oakland California, a short ride across the bridge from San Francisco, was the site of one of the first police killings attributed to the Black Panthers.
Officer John Frey E.O.W. 10/28/1967 – Off. Frey was killed during the course of a traffic stop involving 2 members of the Black Panther Party. Off. Frey’ partner, who was also wounded during the shooting, returned fire and the wounded suspect was later apprehended.

Okay, maybe Oakland is too far away. Let’s look a little closer to home.

The San Francisco Police Department has lost three members to activities of the Black Panthers or its related organizations. Each of these killings took place in the very city where the majority of this project will now take place.

Sgt. Brian McDonnel E.O.W. 02/18/1970 – Sgt. McDonnel dies of wounds received 2 days earlier during the bombing of the Park Station Police Station. Although the bombing is unsolved it was believed to be the work of the Weather Underground.

Officer Harold Hamilton E.O.W. 10/09/1970 – Off. Hamilton was shot and killed when responding to a bank robbery. The shooter, wounded by Off. Hamilton’s partner, was identified as a member of the Black Liberation Army. The BLA detonated an improvised explosive during Off. Hamilton’s funeral, luckily no one was injured.

Sgt. John Young E.O.W. 08/29/1971 – Sgt. Young was killed by multiple shotgun blasts inside the Ingleside District Police Station by members of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army. These same suspects were later connected to a church bombing on Oct 22, 1970, and bombing of the Mission Police Station on March 30, 1971.

San Francisco is a big city and maybe it is too difficult to locate records and witnesses for such a project. So let’s make it easy and stay in-house. The National Park Service should not have any problem locating details relating to the loss of one of their own.

Park Ranger Kenneth C. Patrick E.O.W. 08/05/1973 – Ranger Patrick was 40 years old, a 10-year veteran officer and former member of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. On August 5th 1973 he was on duty as a Park Ranger with the National Park Service at Point Reyes National Seashore when he conducted a traffic stop. Unknown to him at the time the car he stopped contained several members of the Black Panther Party, one of whom opened fire with a 9mm handgun and wounded Ranger Patrick. Although the shooter initially left the scene he quickly returned and executed Ranger Patrick, who was unable to access his service weapon and then stole that service weapon as well.

If the National Park Service is true lay committed to preserving the legacy of the Black Panther Party and identifying those Bay Area sites which “helped shaped the Party” then the murder locations for each of these officers should be at the top of the list.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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