Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks Condemns President’s Use of Violence

Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, issued the following statement:

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks condemns the recent and continued attacks on people of color in this country. We mourn the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and all the other voices that have been silenced.

As an organization representing former and retired National Park Service (NPS) employees, with over 40,000 years of collective experience in national parks, we also strongly condemn President Trump, Secretary Bernhardt, and their administration’s use of the United States Park Police and other federal police forces and National Guard to clear a public park, which was still open and filled with peaceful protestors, to secure a photo opportunity.

NPS employees should never be ordered to carry out violent actions against peaceful protestors who are exercising their First Amendment rights protected under the United States Constitution. The use of tear gas, rubber bullets, and brute military force on a group of people trying to peacefully enact change is unacceptable.

We are extremely disappointed in, and concerned about, the NPS employees who followed these wrongful orders, including those in leadership positions within the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service.

There must be a substantial change to address the issues facing people of color in our country today-  and our current national leaders are clearly unable and unwilling to enact this change. We need to support black and brown voices across communities, in national parks, and within our membership. The Coalition will continue to call out the leaders of this country who attempt to silence voices of change, and we will actively pursue opportunities to amplify the conversation and to take action.