By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Nothing could be crazier or sadder. It is the continued determination of a small group of people in Dallas to tightly control public observations of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination here. They want to banish the public from Dealey Plaza where it happened so that no one can go there and raise questions.
At the behest of this group, the city has agreed to barricade and shut down Dealey Plaza for two weeks bracketing the November 22 anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's murder in 1963. The longer this goes on and the closer we draw to the date, the more I feel myself getting spooked out by the whole thing. This is some weird stuff.
The city's stated goal is to keep Kennedy assassination conspiracy theorists away from the immense hordes of international press that city leaders fear will show up for the event. First of all, immense hordes are not coming. C'mon. If you asked people on the street right now to tell you who JFK was, half would guess he was a rapper.
But a pretty decent-sized contingent of press might show up to see Dallas acting like we did it. "Half Century Later, Dallas Still Guilty" — now that's a decent little color piece. The more City Hall keeps doing cheap imitations of a 1950s TV detective show, the better chance we have of actually drawing interest and attention next November, all of it bad.
Last week another shoe dropped onto the overwhelming mountain of evidence already arguing that shutting down Dealey Plaza is a manifestly imbecilic and self-defeating idea. An appeals court came down entirely on the side of Robert Groden, a best-selling author and assassination expert whom the city has been hounding for a decade. The court's finding was a refutation of everything the city has ever said about its right to control Dealey Plaza.
In 2010 a trial court judge quashed the city's case against Groden for selling assassination tracts in Dealey Plaza. Even though the city had come up with three different versions of what they claimed Groden did wrong, the trial judge said it still failed to find a single law he had broken. By the way, this was the 81st time the city had been tossed out of court for trying to banish Groden form Dealey Plaza. Eighty-one. If in the first 80 times you do not succeed, try an 81st!
The city appealed the trial judge's ruling in 2010. It took the appeals court three years to make up its mind, but last week a judge finally handed down the score: Groden 81, city of Dallas goose-egg. A few days later the city informed Bradley Kizzia, Groden's lawyer, that they will not appeal again. The city attorney's office confirmed this to me.
I learned recently that when Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings was in Washington last January for the inauguration, he met with John Judge of the Coalition on Presidential Assassinations, a national umbrella group for assassination scholars and conspiracy theorists, to explore the possibility of compromise on the 50th observations. Judge told me that he offered the mayor three possible compromise positions.
First, Judge suggested the city move its memorial event to the Kennedy Memorial site two blocks from Dealey Plaza and leave the plaza open to the public to whom to it belongs. Second, if the city insisted on using the plaza for its memorial, Judge proposed the city allow COPA to be present during the observation in some nondisruptive fashion. And finally if the city just could not share the moment, Judge suggested that a staggered timing be worked out so that COPA could move into the plaza and hold its own event immediately before or immediately after the city's event.
Mayor Rawlings confirmed to me he had met with Judge in Washington and discussed possible points of compromise. Of the suggestion that the official event remove itself from Dealey Plaza and leave the plaza open, Rawlings told me he told Judge, "I don't think so." He said he did agree to relay a request from COPA that it be allowed to meet with the committee sponsoring the event to present its thoughts, something the committee has declined to allow so far in spite of previous requests from COPA.
Rawlings told me that since returning to Dallas he has met with members of the event committee and has relayed COPA's request to talk to them. He sounded reasonably though not totally optimistic that such a meeting will take place. "If they [the committee] want to, I think we will make that happen," he said.
He also said this about Judge and his group: "John's a nice guy. It was a good conversation. I felt that they cared about this day as much as anybody, so we needed to continue that dialogue.
"I was pleased with a couple of things I heard them say. One is that it's not a massive group. I was afraid it was 500 people or something. I think it's not. I think it's a smaller group. And second, they've been very respectful [in the past]. In fact they were complaining about somebody who had disrespected their moment of silence. So I liked the tenor of what they were talking about."
COPA, by the way, has a long history of solemn and respectful observations at Dealey Plaza on previous anniversaries of JFK's death. Like Groden, Judge and most of the people we are talking about here are mature scholars who choose their words carefully and know how to behave when they go downtown. The suggestion that there is something ominous or dangerous about them — a linchpin of the city's 81 failed cases against Groden — is a lot of what keeps getting the city laughed out of court.
In fact, for the most part the assassination writers and theorists only look scary when you read about them in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, whose writers have described them as necrophiliacs and fiends in the past. The News, of course, was singled out at the time of the assassination for having fanned the flames of extremism in Dallas. Plus ça change.
Dallas would probably have had an easier time of it in the courts if it had launched a jack-booted horseback and lasso round-up of professors of Greek love poetry. No judge has ever been able to find anything wrong with people standing around on the grass on Dealey Plaza speaking to the hordes of tourists who come there seeking answers to the JFK assassination mystery.
And it is a mystery. Most of the world takes it as a mystery. But organizers of the official Dallas City Hall event for the 50th are determined that no one must be allowed to speak those three words — it's a mystery — at any time or in any place near the event.
Groden was a consultant to the U.S. House Select Committee on Assassinations convened in 1976, which said in a report two years later it had found credible scientific evidence that Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone in killing Kennedy. The report didn't say who did it. It said it was a mystery.
The murder is still an open case, a point driven home here recently when sponsors of the city's official 50th observation succeeded in luring members of the Kennedy family back to Dallas for an official event — the first time since the assassination. At a gathering in the Arts District, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said exactly the same thing the city has been persecuting Groden for saying in Dealey Plaza: It's a mystery. Kennedy said his father, the assassinated RFK, publicly endorsed the lone-gunman findings of the Warren Commission but privately dismissed those findings and derided the commission's report as "a shoddy piece of work."
Early on in this effort, city officials went to great lengths to explain their sensitivity to the feelings of the Kennedy family, even suggesting at one point that the word "assassination" would be banished from all publicity and proceedings lest it cause the Kennedys to recall something they had perhaps forgotten about. Of course, that story went sailing out the window when RFK came to town and said his father thought the Warren Commission was bunk.
In fact for all its lugubrious, funeral-home hand-wringing, it's the city now that begins to emerge as ludicrous and profane in its treatment of this event. How could Dallas, of all the cities in the world, ever have gotten the idea that it had the right to control this particular conversation?
The mayor's more reasonable tone may offer hope for a more reasonable outcome, but he was careful to tell me that this particular piece of business is not in his hands. He repeated a few time that decisions about the 50th are in the hands of "the committee."
I am slowly coming to my own personal theory about "the committee," the people behind Dallas' effort to basically make this day go away. The committee includes some window-dressing and diversity names, but the core group is made up of way-back Dallas society and money names including Ruth Sharp Altshuler, Deedie Rose, Erle Nye, Margot Perot and Caren Prothro. I suspect their obsession with this event is linked somehow with the Kennedy assassination having been the first time in human history that international live television took a place most people had never heard of before and cast it out naked onto the center stage of world attention, covered in shame and blood as if in a scene from Stephen King's Carrie.
For the people on whose watch all of that happened in 1963, the assassination became the cause for their own personal arrested development. Only by thinking of it that way can I make sense of their approach to the 50th.
It's not the Kennedy family they're worried about. And I don't even think it has anything to do with the city's vaunted image. Images don't really go back 50 years. More like 50 minutes in this world.
It's the nightmare. They're afraid the nightmare is coming back. The strangest thing, the spookiest thing, the saddest thing in all of this is that they are the ones conjuring it out of the ground.
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This is an interesting article. The main thing that I disagree about is the "mystery" aspect. While the exact identities of who ordered the assassination remain unknown, it is obvious that the national security state and its officials carried out the public execution of a sitting president. The rest of the pillars of power have covered up this rather obvious reality for five decades now. The cover up has basically been successful. Even though only a tiny minority believes the official story, the majority is fragmented and inert - the truth too frightening and depressing for most to acknowledge no matter how obvious it is.
I think the whole of idea and issues surrounding the "the 50th" are ridiculous. I worked the 40th and there was no carnival atmosphere. It was a bunch of news crews trying to find a new things to say about an old story. Like was The Sixth Floor the most pointed out building. (that was from Fox News.) I am not sure how having an historian who hasn't written about Kennedy reading one of his speeches makes sense. And I am not sure why anyone would want to watch it from a monitor from another part of Dallas. The Sixth Floor Museum had the permit for the Plaza the week prior to the anniversary date but we allowed the conspiracy guys to have their march of silence (even though it wasn't silent since they had drums) The 40th was about Kennedy with a exhibit of rare photos, symposiums with cabinet members and having the museum open to the public. (From what I understand the Museum will be closed during the two days of the event.) It seems like the Museum is less interested in sharing the day with the public and more interested in doing something fancy with the city. I am so disappointed.
How about the Texas Theater? Any Chance of us who support the Congressional opinion of a mystery and because the FBI did not pursue any leads of the evidence of conspiracy... and there is tons and still CIA hidden records still after 50 years. What are they still hiding if not evidence of their involvement in the act and or cover-up as accessories after the fact? Any Chance of us skeptics and living witnesses booking the Texas Theater for a meeting about the Warren Commission's Lone Nut theory?
The usher who was there, Butch Burroughs, says Oswald was in the movie before Tippit was killed and the cops took an Oswald look-alike out the back door while they took Lee Oswald out the front door.
I predict that the lead story on all three networks the evening of Friday, November 22, 2013 will be the riot around the grassy knoll as hundreds of protesters from all over the WORLD converge on Dealey Plaza, breaking through the barricades, as tear gas flies. This "keep the hoi polloi out by force" plan is going to blow up in the Dallas elites' faces, big time. This thing they're creating is an anarchist magnet. As the date nears, this will become more and more apparent, and maybe they'll have the good sense to call it off. Barricades? Seriously?
Dallas has a disturbing propensity to practice what I call the Victorian or Puritan way of life. Pretend it didn't happen and it didn't happen. Don't mention it and it might go away. And for heaven sakes don't admit anything negative. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, create the most hateful behind the scenes smear campaigns you can and create a new John Birch style PR campaign so anyone who questions you is either a traitor or crazy. The City of Dallas needs to wake up and smell the coffee. Despite Gary Mack's position to the contrary - even if you remove most of the crackpot theories and take away the people who are shameless profiteers you're left with extremely disturbing questions about what happened on November 22nd. Most of the efforts to take a second look at the audio forensic evidence are at best specious. A great deal of inductive reasoning and some fairly creative science has gone into a lot of the "proof positive" that Oswald and Oswald alone shot and killed Kennedy and wounded Connolly. All conspiracy theories aside - whether whacko or science based - this event is proof positive that Dallasites don't want to deal with truth period - any kind of truth - empirical truth or otherwise. Dallas wants a nice sanitized version of events. The President came, a horrible man shot him, bad things happened - now let's "celebrate" the great city of Dallas and whitewash the fence. I'm expecting them to invite a high school "Huck FInn" cast to the events just to insure that the focus isn't lost. We need to be positive even if it kills our reputation - again.
Is the City Attorney's office so over-staffed and over-funded that it can file 81 losing actions on the same issue? I have a robin that has come every morning since the fall to bang his head against my windows. He is making no impact. I am going to name him Tom Perkins.
All this talk of the past has nothing to do with real estate prices and development which makes it, by its very nature, a waste of time in Dallas. Groden didn't grow up in Highland Park (hell, he's probably never even been there) therefore "the committee" considers him troublesome vermin. Along with rest of the conspirators.
Dallas used to be self-conscience. Now, it's doesn't give a damn about a mirror unless it can sell it.
Alright. Good article, Schutze. (And this time I'm not being sarcastic.)
The real issue with the JFK anniversary isn't about who was behind the conspiracy.
(Maybe it was the aliens or Castro or an Oswald clone or Professor Moriarty or gangsters like you see in the movies.)
The real issue is: Why can't we even talk about talking about a conspiracy? Everyone has the right to say their opinion respectfully or shill some piece of shit book that "finally makes sense of both the JFK assassination and Watergate." Everybody has the right to make a wild claim, make crazy demands, stand on a soapbox. (By the way, when was the last time Mr. Groden didn't feel like he was being followed?)
You are wrong, Schutze, about the anniversary committee. What they care about is not having downtown feel like a mausoleum because that turns off real estate development. Maybe it has to do with a $100 million downtown parks project that Belo's pushing.
That's the thing about conspiracies. It just keeps going.
So Nov. 22nd almost 50 years ago JFK got it through his head that Texans did not like him very much.
Dallas politicians could not 'control' their way out of a toilet! OH thats right Dallas is a toilet.
The JFK assassination was a CIA job led by Alexander Haig and Howard Hunt.
Under the authority of Robert Kennedy, both Haig and Hunt had run covert operations against Cuba & Castro following the Bay of Pigs disaster. In 1963, they simply turned one of their anti-Castro CIA operations against John F. Kennedy. At the time, Haig was an army major working under Army Secretary Cyrus Vance. Hunt was a top CIA operative. They were in unique positions to know which Bay of Pigs veterans could be trusted to do the job, and they were perfectly situated to get it done.
When Howard Hunt got arrested for the Watergate burglary in 1972, intelligence community insiders quickly linked him to Alexander Haig. This was a big problem because Haig, by then, had become a top aide to President Nixon. To sustain the cover-up, Haig led all of the Watergate investigations away from the CIA and towards Richard Nixon's reelection committee (CREEP). That's where Bob Woodward came in.
In 1970, just two years before the Watergate break-in, Navy Lieutenant Bob Woodward had done some very sensitive work for the executive, carrying communications between the Pentagon and the White House. In fact, he did briefings with Alexander Haig and Thomas Moorer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Yes, Bob Woodward worked in the Nixon White House before Watergate!)
After the break-in, Haig used Woodward to protect the CIA and sustain the JFK cover-up. And even though all of the Watergate burglars were CIA men people still think of the Watergate break-in was a CREEP operation. It clearly was not. In fact, just a few weeks before the Watergate job, those very same CIA burglars hit the Chilean Embassy. Does anybody really believe CREEP would have hit the Chilean Embassy?
In the end, Alexander Haig forced Richard Nixon to resign the presidency, and Gerald Ford issued a sweeping pardon that made all of the CIA's problems go away in an instance.
For more, please read Against Them: How & Why Alexander Haig, Bob Woodward, Donald Rumsfeld, & Richard Cheney Covered Up the JFK Assassination in the Wake of the Watergate Break-In. It's a bizarre story, but it finally makes sense of both the JFK assassination and Watergate.
@whocareswhatithink I want to come to Dallas for the 50th but don't want to "waste my money" if I can't get into Dealey Plaza. I've contact the mayor's office who put me on the mailing list for City Hall news. I live in Maryland, I don't want Dallas City Hall news, I want a proper response to my emails. Gee, how does Disney World deal with 35,000 visitors (on a slow day)? Maybe Dallas should be called Never Never Land, because I'll Never Never visit it!
@dfwenigma like the Huck Finn reference.
Degree 33 underground access point 220.127.116.11.2.44442
@roadsidecouch c'mon...make a resolution today to show a little class
@melrosegliss But you left out the connection with the Pueblo and the Gulf of Tonkin ...
@melrosegliss Just what you wrote makes perfect sense. White House insiders said Nixon’s threat to talk about the "BaY of Pigs thing” if the Feds didn’t get off the case was the thing that got him impeached...money to Hunt who knew about Dallas and confessed before he died that LBJ was the Man, or else the Bay of Pigs, code for the JFK assassination while one of the Watergate men said they were looking for anything like photos of their people in Dallas. Also it was a Limited Hangout since the FBI’s Deep throat knew everything Woodward had before hand and led him on to the safe stuff...just enough to get rid of Dick.
@melrosegliss My instinct was to delete this comment for being off-topic. The idea is so funny I almost wish I did it.
@joe.tone Joe, if you're going to delete a remark that is much closer to the truth than the Warren Report, move to the DMN, where covering up the truth of the events surrounding the JFK assassination has been a way of life since the afternoon of 11/22/63, when DMN reporter Mary Woodward's story was changed away from Mary's observations of shots from the Knoll, to the conventional lie of three shots from a 6th floor window by a man who was in the 2nd floor lunchroom at the time, according to witnesses who saw him.