To: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Dear Mr. Kennedy:
You and your sister, Rory, appeared here in Dallas a few days ago as part of the run-up to this city's observance of the 50th anniversary of the murder of your uncle, President John F. Kennedy, in Dealey Plaza in Dallas on November 22, 1963. This letter to you is my request for your help in an urgent related matter.
See also: Assassination? What Assignation?
Your visit here was taken by the Dallas establishment as a welcome gesture of reconciliation, since as far as most people know none of your family has come here officially since the assassination a half-century ago. I don't diminish that.
But in your appearance here you revealed that your father, Robert F. Kennedy, was skeptical of the work of the Warren Commission and skeptical of the single-gunman theory it propagated. I did not attend the event where you spoke. I understand from the reports that you mentioned the Mafia and rogue CIA agents as possible co-conspirators.
Let me mention quickly, for what it's worth, that I do not have a personal theory about the assassination of your uncle. Like anybody else who has been a reporter in Dallas for a long time, I have traipsed across the trail many times, but only enough to remind me how little I know and how silly it would be for me to offer opinions. That's not why I am bothering you.
This is why. Are you aware -- do you have any knowledge of -- the vicious campaign of repression that the City of Dallas has carried out for many years and is still prosecuting against people here for doing exactly what you just did so easily on a Dallas stage: expressing skepticism about the Warren Commission?
One man in particular, Charles Groden, has been ticketed more than 80 times and jailed twice, in spite of findings by city judges in each and every instance that he had broken no law by speaking and offering books for sale on city land near where your uncle was killed.
Even today the city is using a bogus, and probably illegal, permitting procedure to clamp down Soviet-style on assassination skeptics for the November 22, 2013 observances at Dealey Plaza. The entire thrust and style of the event itself is designed to ward off any discussion of theories that depart from the Warren Commission findings.
In fact, at the press conference to announce plans, the mayor of Dallas, an otherwise reasonable man, instructed reporters that the event itself was to be called only "The 50th," without any verbal reference or allusion to the murder of your uncle, a bizarre exercise in euphemism that should tell you all you need to know.
The problem of suppression, sadly, goes far beyond the case of Groden. In fact the city has raised a large sum of money privately for "security" in order to bar presence at the event next November of a group called COPA, Committee on Presidential Assassinations.
Obviously you know and I know that the assassination has attracted the attention of lots of eccentric people, even crazy people. They can be irritating, and I think I'm guilty of having expressed that irritation by making fun of some of them here in the past. COPA is not crazy people. If anything, the dedicated scholars and investigators of COPA and some other study groups are the monks who have kept scholarship alive on these questions over long decades of derision and even aggressive attack like the behavior of the City of Dallas. If there is a body of knowledge out there now capable of responding to your own personal curiosity about these questions, it exists today only because of the work of COPA and some other groups and individuals.
These are the people Dallas is banning from the observances. What you were allowed to say without incident on a stage in Dallas last weekend they will not be allowed to say at the observance itself next November. In fact they will not be allowed to be even physically present and silent, under an especially Kafkaesque ruling by the city that the moment of silence they wished to observe on November 22 would conflict with other moments of silence already planned. Under current arrangements they will be physically shut out of Dealey Plaza, banned by a jury-rigged ticketing process.
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Why? That's another long conversation. Are the answers psychological, moral, political or conspiratorial? I don't have an answer worth uttering. I don't know.
I do know this. Your uncle and father would never have countenanced the suppression of free speech being carried out in Dallas now around your family name. No one could do more to defeat those efforts now than a Kennedy. A word from any one of you on this subject, publicly or privately, would go far.
Please don't be deceived by the fawning reception I'm sure you received here. What's going on behind those practiced smiles is not pretty. They invoke your name to justify their actions, insisting that free speech at the event on November 22 would be an affront to your family.
Your words here last weekend put the lie to that rationale but did not put an end to the effort. That will take more. This is an urgent sincere plea that you do more.