City Hall's Kennedy Conspiracy

Kennedy assassination author and conspiracist Robert Groden says the city's out to get him. He may be right.

City Hall's Kennedy Conspiracy
Mark Graham

And they say Dallas has no focal point, no Central Park or Trafalgar Square. On this bright jewel of a Saturday in early April 2011, Dealey Plaza at the western entrance to downtown is the city's beating heart.

President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jackie, Governor John Connally and his wife Nellie are parked at the fatal X on Elm Street in that famous 1961 Lincoln Continental convertible limousine. At the meticulous direction of a National Geographic film crew working on a new conspiracy theory, the actors move their heads ever so slightly this way and that, just a tick at a time. They look like robots on the blink.

An intense burr-cut man in his 20s is up on a boom lift in front of the famous Sniper's Nest in the former School Book Depository Building, clicking off silent rifle shots with a replica of that famous 6.5 mm Carcano-type Model 91/38 rifle. About 50 tourists have gathered on the sidewalks to watch.

Every weekend at Dealey Plaza, Robert Groden sells books and
CDs based on the House Select Committee's finding that JFK was shot from the grassy knoll.
Mark Graham
Every weekend at Dealey Plaza, Robert Groden sells books and CDs based on the House Select Committee's finding that JFK was shot from the grassy knoll.
Vendors wander the plaza selling souvenir newspapers.
Mark Graham
Vendors wander the plaza selling souvenir newspapers.

On that famous grassy knoll above this freeze-framed diorama of national horror, 40 to 50 frail, elderly African-American Shriners—all bedecked in medals and wearing tall, wonderfully multicolored fezzes—are attempting to assemble for a group photo. Apparently the slope is tricky for them. A kind of generalized group-doddering is going on with much stumbling and elbow-grabbing. Every time the impatient photographer barks another order, the Shriners clutch each other as if on the deck of a storm-tossed ship.

Behind the Shriners in the famous pergola, a smaller group who describe themselves as "hip-hop positive" are assembling a large array of sound equipment. All obviously American, they explain a little disconcertingly that they are here in Dealey Plaza today to serve the cause of Syrian freedom.

Floating between the assassination car, the hip-hop positive Syrian freedom group and the storm-tossed Shriners, half a dozen clowns in full makeup and frizzy-haired regalia have appeared. Their affiliation is unclear.

But that's not the point.

In a makeshift outdoor store at the far end of the pergola, Kennedy assassination author and conspiracist Robert Groden, who worked on the staff of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 and still owns a copy of the famous Zapruder film, is convinced that the hip-hop positive people with their gigantic sound system—whom he has encountered before and finds very obnoxious—have no genuine connection with Syrian freedom at all. He insists their "damn Libyan blast rap" is in fact part of a city of Dallas conspiracy to shut down his store and thereby silence critics of the famous Warren Commission.

The wonderful thing is, his theory is not entirely implausible.

The city of Dallas has engaged in cyclical campaigns of law enforcement aimed at making Groden get out of Dealey Plaza. Groden says he has been ticketed 81 times and jailed twice in 12 years.

"Every single time, without exception, the judges have thrown it out of court," he says.

The most recent arrest and jailing, last June, resulted in a full-blown trial with legal briefs and arguments, after which a municipal judge—a city of Dallas employee—threw out the city's case against Groden, ruling he broke no law by selling his wares in Dealey Plaza. After that, Groden filed a federal civil rights suit against the city.

VIDEO: Robert Groden's Presentation at Dealey Plaza 4/23/2011

City Manager Mary Suhm declined to discuss the city's campaign against Groden, citing advice from the city attorney. She would only say generally that Dealey Plaza is still a place of pain for people of a certain age in Dallas.

"I think until my generation passes on," Suhm says, "we will always get that pain." She compares it to the effect Vietnam memorials have on those who were alive during the war, versus those born since. "I think it's a very similar thing," she says.

But then Dallas also is known for being easily embarrassed. That was clearly the case in March of last year when Erykah Badu stripped naked in Dealey Plaza for a music video. Responding to city council outrage, Dallas police, who had not witnessed the act, charged her retroactively with disorderly conduct.

It was in fact after the Badu Dealey Plaza nakedness crisis that police began cracking down on Groden, which he sees as part of a larger conspiracy to crack down on all of the vendors in Dealey Plaza, including a sun-burned handful who wander the grass selling souvenir assassination newspapers from canvas shoulder bags.

Groden says the city hopes to take him out, because he's "the most respectable" of the vendors in Dealey Plaza—an author and known expert, not just a guy with a shoulder bag.

"If they can do it to me, they can do it to anyone," Groden told Unfair Park, the Dallas Observer news blog, after his arrest a year ago. Dallas Deputy Police Chief Vince Golbeck gave credence to Groden's conspiracy theory when he told Unfair Park that the shoulder-bag vendors were cursing and spitting on tourists, which Golbeck said was "not the image we want portrayed."

But if the shoulder-bag vendors were an image problem for the police, why did they arrest Groden? At 65, a bit heavier and rounder at the shoulder than he was in his bearded '60s days, Groden looks every bit the venerable author he is. His books include High Treason, a New York Times nonfiction best seller in 1992; The Killing of a President, published in 1993 by Viking with a foreword by Oliver Stone; and The Search for Lee Harvey Oswald in 1995.

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35 comments
chic ornaments
chic ornaments

-chic ornaments Let me just say this...I have been honored to have had many worldwide visitors allow me to show them the highlights of the Dallas we take for granted.

Bigbobkdallas
Bigbobkdallas

Let me just say this...I have been honored to have had many worldwide visitors allow me to show them the highlights of the Dallas we take for granted. I can absolutely say this: No matter if they were from Russia, France, China or Australia one common thread abounds between them all; they all want to see where that moment in time occurred and are still infatuated with the legacy in such a way that is disturbingly. The respect and interest is absolutely staggering for so many that had no sensable reason to exhibit any knowledge of, or deep reason for being there.

Jim Rich
Jim Rich

I like this guy ,standing on the facts of truth .has caused the death of many people,why not harrasment .Groden is doing a good job for all of us in America.

Don Abbott
Don Abbott

Here's the litmus test of 11/22/63: do you believe a mob-connected snake (Jack Ruby) was working or grieving when he stalked Oswald on 11/22, 11/23 and ultimately 11/24? Was Ruby so patriotic that he had to kill LHO to spare Jackie the torture of returning to Dallas to testify? Or was he working? Was he ordering red, white, and blue bunting with all the long-distance calls to Chicago and New Orleans in October '63? Or was he working? Figure out Ruby and the rest falls into place. Someday, the government will release it all...primarily to show future generations that they can, in fact, do what they want, when they want, to whoever they want. Up to, and including, killing the head of state in the middle of the day, in the middle of a major American city, in the middle of the street, in the middle of a crowd.

And lie about it.

justsayin
justsayin

A trained sniper is NOT assigned to embassy duty

symboy
symboy

You guys just like to spout off your mouth with out doing any research. Oswald was a very poor marksmen and his co-soldiers state he had "maggies drawers" meaning he often couldn't even hit the target at all. Look it up and quite spouting lies.

Kevin
Kevin

Google the National Guard for your zip code. No results. Directed to the national site.

The most covert org in the world. Right under your nose!!!

And you question the cover up?

Kevin
Kevin

Really? Do you belive the the US is the only country in the world that does not train 12 year olds to be assasins? Get a clue. Go stand on the grassy knoll and then tell me this was not a huge cover up.

Everyone is dead. Last time I checked dead people don't talk.

The National Guard is around the corner from where you live in any where USA. What do they do in there? Right under your nose?

Bywaye
Bywaye

Its been said "even the shooter don't know who killed the president".

Mac Wallace
Mac Wallace

DPD Chief Curry:

"We don't have any proof that Oswald fired the rifle, and never did. Nobody's yet been able to put him in that building with a gun in his hand."

Frank James
Frank James

Who I am Doesn't Matter, but hear what I say here. I was in the 6th. grade when J.F.K. was "MURDERED" in Dallas that day. I've heard that Russia did it, the Mafia did it, and that L.B.J. had a hand in it. But both 6th. grade classes went to the cafeteria, turned on the T.V. and sat and watched the President get shot over and over as they replayed the scene. I remember Jackie crawling out on the trunk of the car,and the news report saying that "HE" was shot from behind. Well, even a child of 12 at that time knows you don't go TOWARD danger, you go away from it. It didn't take me long to figure it out....SHE was getting a part of his skull. I mean the NEWS did report that J.F.K. had been SHOT from behind. I didn't see any body part of any one fly forward.Like the film showed..JFK SLUMPED FORWARD..THEN SUDDENLY FLEW BACKWARD his head seemed to hit the back of the seat. I wasn't as smart as those on the Warren Commission at the time but LIVE COVERAGE can't LIE. So if you still want to believe people trying to cover up the facts that a whole nation watched LIVE on LIVE NEWS COVERAGE. Then you're either STUPID, or you didn't see it, or you hadn't even been born yet. NUFF SAID.......

Chris McPhail
Chris McPhail

Governments lie, people! When has the government ever told you the truth about anything? How long are you going to keep buying those same magic beans?

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

One of the more interesting aspects of someone like Robert Groden who believes in a conspiracy is the fact that they never subject the actual idea of conspiracy to critical analysis. As has been noted many times, including in comments here, you have to be fairly credulous to accept the existence of a conspiracy that has supposedly been air-tight (but for the valiant Grodens of the world) for almost half a century.

Gpolk78
Gpolk78

I am convience that Lee Oswald was involve with something but he didnt know what are who,he was just doing his part.you can tell this man was so confused in the dallas hallway's being led room to room,that all he saw was cameras and media he didnt even know the president had been shot! then when he had time to think,he realize he was being charge of shooting the president and this is when he started sayin he was just a (patsy).So in my mind the FBI, and secret service had a hand in it,ortherwise they(SS) would not "repeat" would not have called the agents off the back of Kennedy's limo comming out of the airport..I have watch all the viedos and all the witnesses testomy for years and it ashames me to think this country allow this to happen and to let the real killers get away with it.Realy how dumb can we pretend to be.

Diana Powe
Diana Powe

Jim, thanks for making the story as complex and multi-layered as it is. Clearly the City of Dallas is wrong but you opened it up in a fascinating way.

Wja1952
Wja1952

Mr. Groden is a good man who for a very long time has spoken out on the events surrounding the assassination of JFK. Is it because as he speaks about the case he is selling books and cd's? Is that not what is being done on the first floor of the Sixth Floor Museum?

Is it the selling of books or, is it his version of his story the city of Dallas is upset with?

Very true, Dealey Plaza is place of great pain for many people in my generation, but a greater pain is that after close to fifty years we still don't know the true facts of JFK's murder...

Leave Mr. Groden alone, is there not more important things for the City of Dallas to worry about....like crime.

Let Mr. Groden speak

Joshua
Joshua

When do we next get a Presidential open car parade in Dallas....maybe before 2012??

Kevin
Kevin

It is because everyone who knew is dead.

phe_75034
phe_75034

For years, I believed all the conspiracy stuff about the assasination. The Zapruder film is tough to argue with - it sure looks like the fatal shot came from the front.

But, secrets are hard to keep. The more people who know the secret, the exponentially more difficult it becomes to keep it. The conspiracy theorists themselves tell us the conspiracy was huge, the cover-up even huger. It's been almost 50 years.How is it we know (really KNOW) nothing more than we did then?

Maybe it's the 9/11 conspiracy nuts who have soured me on anything conspiracy-related. Maybe I've just grown intellectually lazy on the subject. I don't know. But I just can't believe the theories any more.

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

"The wonderful thing is, his theory is not entirely implausible."

That's the wonderful thing about all crackpot hypotheses. They all have that grain of truth at the center that never holds up under the harsh light of day, no matter how many miniscule coincidences and questions crop up.

Look, the federal government can't even deliver the mail. What makes anyone think that anyone involved would be capable of orchestrating this kind of coverup, lasting for more than 40 years, and involving thousands of people? It's just not plausible.

Kevin
Kevin

It is too small of an area for someone not to know what happened. Huge cover up!!

Baywolfe
Baywolfe

Sorry, Bob, but there is definitive evidence done by experts to prove that Oswald, an ex-military sniper, could easily take the shots. And, once you position the respective parties in the limo at the height and angle they were really at, the "magic bullet" disappears.

Get over it and join us in the 21st century.

Oliver Tooley
Oliver Tooley

Get a life Don Abbott. You know so little about Jack Ruby, Oswald and the investigation of the events of that weekend.....Mob-connected snake? Ruby was NOT a nice person, but his connection to the mob was no more than yours Dufus. And I'll bet you are one of those fools who have wasted months claiming that President Obama is not a real American.

Gwcsr2002
Gwcsr2002

Very concise and TRUE! thank you.

OzDidIt
OzDidIt

Oswald qualified as a USMC Sharpshooter when he was in the Marines. Why don't YOU do a bit of research, symboy?

Peter Lawford Did It
Peter Lawford Did It

"LIVE COVERAGE can't LIE" but "Frank James" can. He could not have seen any film replayed "over and over" on live coverage because there were no TV news cameras rolling in Dealey Plaza, and the Zapruder film was only published later as still frames in Life magazine, and not shown on television until Robert Groden ran it on Geraldo Rivera's talk show back in the 1970s.

symboy
symboy

You are only stating your own opinion on this not any facts. Try reading what I recommended above and see if you think there has been no critical analysis applied to this issue. And the conspiracy was never "air-tight" - it leaks like a seeve, you just have to pay attention to those who talked, those who died because the talked, and those who were never listened to. Check out "JFK and the Unspeakable - Why He Died and Why It Matters" by James W. Douglas (pub 2010), available in paperback at amazon.com and amazon.ca.

Matt
Matt

"Maybe it's the 9/11 conspiracy nuts who have soured me on anything conspiracy-related. Maybe I've just grown intellectually lazy on the subject. I don't know. But I just can't believe the theories any more."

So you'd rather just buy what the government spoon-feeds you? Yeah, that's a brilliant conclusion... As for 9/11, there's a mountain of evidence that contradicts the 9/11 commission report.

Do some research before you get "soured on anything conspiracy-related". If you can't do that, you have no right to be soured.

Think for yourself:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

symboy
symboy

Try reading one of the newest and best JFK Assassination books - "JFK and the Unspeakable - Why He Died and Why It Matters" by James W. Douglas (pub 2010). It is one of the best over view texts. It will revive your interest no doubt. Plus with the help of newly released government documents (under the auspices of the Assassination Records Review Board) as mandated by the JFK Act which forced US government agencies to release many assassination related documents and allows you to get a chilling glimpse of the big picture. Try it - you won't be dissapointed. Available on amazon.com and amazon.ca.

shazam!
shazam!

yeah, listen: the cia ain't the FUCKING post office, pal. can you even begin to comprehend the dimensions of that FUCKING agency, or the nsa, for that matter? you wanna talk nothing's possible, when EVERYTHING is possible. come join the post-nuclear age, won't you?

Pat Speer
Pat Speer

I left something out of my first response that is quite important. Oswald was not a trained sniper. He was a radioman who'd been trained to fire a rifle as part of his basic training. The rifle on which he was trained was much easier to use than the rifle found in the building. He was never even trained to shoot at moving targets. After his initial training, moreover, Oswald fell out of practice, so much so that by his last test in 1959, he barely qualified.

When asked about Oswald's shooting abilities, a Marine Corps Colonel told the Warren Commission he was a"poor shot."

These are the facts. Look it up.

Pat Speer
Pat Speer

Baywolfe, if you'd actually look into the case, you'd find that the army test-fired the assassination rifle for the Warren Commission, and were not able to have ANY of their 14 rapid-fired shots hit as close to the center of their head and shoulders targets as two of the three shots supposedly fired by Oswald, even though they were allowed practice shots, when Oswald was not, and even though they were firing on stationary targets. In short, NONE of the top shooters to fire Oswald's rifle came close to replicating his supposed feat, and anyone telling you otherwise is blowing smoke.

Don Abbott
Don Abbott

Oliver, how did you know I'm a mobster? Phone tap? President Obama, unfortunately, is all to real to all Americans. Oh, and let me guess, you were probably born less than 30 years ago...in some economic backwater like Wichita or Corpus.

shazam!
shazam!

is that crack you're smokin' any good? any major dude could tell you that oswald was a first class marksman. of course he had help (whether he was even aware of this is'nt relevant) and that's really the crucible of this whole sorry episode. and yes, nixon was in town. but then was'nt bush in texas, or en route, when reagan blew the plan and survived? to say nothing of the lennon assassination. just sayin'..

 
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