Death Valley National Park Goes Rogue, Tweets Anti-Trump Messages To America

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On Monday morning, a series of messages were shared from Death Valley National Park’s official Twitter account. The subject of these tweets was one of the many dark spots in America’s history: the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The first tweet serves as a reminder that, “during WWII Death Valley hosted 65 endangered internees after the Manzanar Riot.”

The second tweet featured a black-and-white photo of a man along with the following message:

‘We want the opportunity they have to prove their loyalty. We are asked to accept a denial of that privilege in the name of patriotism.’

Because they came shortly after it was announced that President Trump was moving forward with his plan to ban Syrian refugees from entering the country, many of the park’s followers believed that the tweets were a commentary on Trump’s presidency. However, despite being heavily interpreted as such, a spokeswoman for the park, Abby Wines, told The Los Angeles Timesthe news outlet to initially report on the story, that there was no political motivation behind the tweets.

She explained:

‘I just spoke with the park employee that made those posts. She has been doing ranger talks here in the park about the Manzanar internees that were relocated to Death Valley since 2012. She said she’s done tweets about this topic on and off over the last few years. This is part of the park’s history, and there is no further motivation than that.’

Wines also commented on the massive social media response:

‘There have been an unusually large number of comments and shares of these tweets. This appears to be because people believe that the NPS is not allowed to tweet anymore. That is not the case. There was a temporary ban. That has been lifted, and parks have been reminded to focus on park information and public safety messages. These tweets are consistent with that.’

Whether Death Valley National Park’s tweets were or were not meant as indirect commentary on the new Trump administration, Twitter users definitely were not grasping at straws when they drew a parallel between Japanese American internment camps and Trump’s proposed treatment of refugees and immigrants. The relationship becomes especially apparent when one factors in rumors that the President wants to implement a registry to track these immigrants.

Featured image via Robert Alexander/Getty Images.