Dealey Plaza Controversy Featured in Wall Street Journal

January 5, 2013

Dallas is in denial. They want to grab the national and international press attention they know is coming to Dealey Plaza next November 22, the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination. They don’t want to talk about his death, though, at the time and place where it happened. They want to freeze time at 12:29 pm on November 22, 1963, when Nellie Connally, wife of the Texas governor, turns to President Kennedy in the limousine and says, “Well, Jack, you can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you” based on the turnout of waving crowds who came to see the motorcade.

They are afraid of the thousands of people that will come to the site to commemorate his death and call for the truth, calling them a “safety concern”. Instead they are limiting public access to the whole area by having a ticketed event that will only mention President Kennedy’s life and legacy, celebrating it with a military jet flyover and some comments by a second-rate historian.

They have now officially denied a legal permit to COPA to hold our annual Moment of Silence, a tradition that has gone on every year since 1964. Their exclusive permit was first secured by the Sixth Floor Museum, whose director was quoted in the Dallas Morning News saying that she was being “proactive” to prevent “a carnival atmosphere and conspiracy theory”. This is content based denial of free speech in a public park and at a designated historic site. Dealey Plaza belongs to history and to the American people, especially on the 50th anniversary.

The Mayor wants to hold a dignified and solemn “moment of silence” that will be a perpetuity of silence and the secrecy that surrounds this still unsolved murder and protecting those who killed Kennedy from prosecution. How does that honor his life and legacy, save to deny that it got him killed?

The Mayor suggests that “demonstrators” and “dissent be moved a mile away to the City Hall Plaza, where their ceremonies have been held in the past. But, a recent poll of 2,200 people by the History Channel found that 85% of Americans do not believe the conclusions of the Warren Commission. Nor did the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which found there was a “probable conspiracy” in the deaths of both John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Decades of critical review by forensic, medical, ballistics and other experts, historians and academics has demolished the theory that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy. Not based on “conspiracy theory” but on legal and medical facts. Which means that COPA, a national organization of serious researchers into the major political assassinations of the 1960s, is not the “dissent”, we are the mainstream. What other political or historical controversy can claim 85% agreement of American citizens? The deniers are the dissent.

This article in the Wall Street Journal apparently motivated the Mayor of Dallas to agree to meet with COPA members and to hear our concerns. We had gotten nothing but refusals and silence over the last year from the Mayor’s office and from his select committee set up to plan events for what he calls “The 50th”. The 50th what? We will meet with the Mayor to suggest the following:

The City of Dallas should move its event to the JFK Memorial site a block to the east of the Plaza where they have held commemorative events on past anniversaries. They should open Dealey Plaza to the public and the thousands of visitors and press who want to be there to commemorate his life, his legacy and his assassination.

And they should issue a legal permit to COPA. as required by law and the Constitution, to hold our annual Moment of Silence followed by some of the best researchers over the last five decades who will speak truth to power, and call for freeing all the files and finding the truth about his assassination. History demands it, since we have yet to move beyond the point of his death because we keep denying the forces behind it and what they put in motion once he died. Their legacy plagues us today as does the lack of justice for the murder of a popular elected president and the democracy he represented.

They should allow COPA to be represented on the “community” planning commission selected by the Mayor to coordinate events for that day. Currently the Sixth Floor Museum is represented, which promotes the mythology of a lone assassin firing from the window of their building, creating wounds and reactions that defy physics based on evidence that would never have stood up in court. Their influence is visible in every aspect of this denial, including proposed official signage for the Plaza that continues the lie. At least the historic marker on the Book Depository refers to Oswald as the “alleged assassin”. There was never a conviction, save in the press and the flawed report of a politically selected panel designed to reach the conclusion from the start. Or at least let us present our proposal and be heard by the committee.

The City of Dallas needs to respect John F. Kennedy enough not only to impede further discussion of the questions surrounding his murder and the evidence released by the JFK Assassination Records Act that has rewritten the history of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as borne out the suspicions of critics and District Attorney Jim Garrison in his case for conspiracy. We know far more than we did in the 1960s and this is not a time to remain silent. If the City instead acknowledged its errors or wrongdoing in the handling of the prime suspect in the murder, the flawed investigation and gathering of evidence to the exlusion of all others, and the abysmal press coverage of the events that continues the denial to this day, and called instead for full release of all local and federal records that remain sealed and a new, independent and thorough legal investigation of the case, including a grand jury in Dallas empaneled by the current District Attorney Watkins, they would begin to restore their image in the national and world press. This attempt at a public relations event designed to frustrate the legitimate press and public interest is yet another mark against their reputation. If they want to show they loved Jack Kennedy, then they need to join us in calling for transparency and accountability at all levels of government and a resolution to this historic event.

COPA will continue to press for these outcomes with the City of Dallas officials. We will also continue to plan to hold our Moment on Silence on the Grassy Knoll on November 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm as we have for so many decades. We will not be silenced. We will be visible at Dealey Plaza in whatever way we can and to the crowds denied access as well. We do not seek a police confrontation by calling for people to Occupy the Grassy Knoll (see website in the article below), but we do seek to exercise our First Amendment rights of free speech and expression about this critical issue when it matters most. We hope some of the 85% will join us in demanding that presence and voice.

We find the disingenuous suggestion of the director of the Sixth Floor Museum that we “simply set aside the national and press attention to his death to another moment.” What moment might that be? Their actions in blocking the American public from the Plaza on this historic date are not “proactive” they are “pre-emptive” and against the spirit of America, the Constituiion, the First Amendment and common sense. Kennedy’s assassination belongs to all of us, and certainly not to a tiny minority who want to prevent mention of it on the 50th anniversary. The Mayor’s office needs to know that.

JFK Conspiracy Theorists Seek Inclusion in Ceremony
Wall Street Journal

DALLAS—Officials in the city where President John F. Kennedy was gunned down Nov. 22, 1963, want to observe the 50th anniversary of that day with a celebration of his life.

The city plans a ceremony that would include readings from Kennedy speeches by historian David McCullough and military jets flying over Dealey Plaza, where the 35th president was shot.

But some who believe the assassination was a conspiracy involving high-ranking U.S. officials say their views shouldn’t be excluded from the commemoration.

“It’s absurd to move the discussion of his death to another moment,” said John Judge, executive director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that studies 1960s murders of public figures. “Our First Amendment rights are being violated.”

Mr. Judge, 65 years old, said conspiracy-theory proponents have gathered at Dealey Plaza every Nov. 22 since 1964. Next year, he added, will be the first that Dallas hasn’t granted a permit for the meeting, which usually involves a moment of silence and a few speeches. He said the city should move its ceremony elsewhere, adding that his group’s members would find a way to disseminate their theories during the city event, possibly even dropping protest banners from nearby buildings.

Mayor Mike Rawlings said in an interview that he would meet with Mr. Judge’s group, as well as with others who object to the city’s plans, to hear their concerns. But he is determined to keep the tone of the event reflective of the “international, cosmopolitan, arts-centered city” Dallas is today, he said, while focusing on President Kennedy’s life and accomplishments. “For 40 minutes, we need to be focusing on the man, not the moment 50 years ago,” Mr. Rawlings said.

Almost half a century after it shocked the nation, the Kennedy assassination remains a touchy subject in Dallas. The city’s reputation took a beating after the president was slain while riding in a roofless limousine through the city’s downtown during an official visit. It suffered another blow two days later when the prime suspect in the case, Lee Harvey Oswald, was killed while in the custody of Dallas police. Hate mail poured in from across the country, and cabdrivers in other cities refused service to visiting Dallasites, said Darwin Payne, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University and a reporter for a local newspaper at the time of the shooting.

“The world and the nation turned against Dallas,” Mr. Payne said.

The animosity has faded, but Dallas remains closely linked to the assassination, a topic that continues to fascinate many. Over 70% of Americans believe that more than one person was involved in the killing, according to a 2003 Gallup poll.

“There are so many possible plotters,” said Kathy Olmsted, a history professor at University of California, Davis, who has studied conspiracy theories about the U.S. government. “It becomes some sort of parlor game to people.”

On any given day, dozens of tourists from around the world track the route followed by Mr. Kennedy’s motorcade through downtown Dallas, taking pictures in front of the white X that marks the spot where the first bullet hit the president. The Sixth Floor Museum, housed in the building from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired, gets more than 300,000 visitors a year.

Dallas is sprucing up Dealey Plaza, repairing the chipped paint on its pergolas and covering up graffiti, in preparation for the ceremony, which will start with church bells and end with a benediction. Private funds will cover the cost, estimated at $1 million, with half of the amount set aside for security. People who wish to attend the ceremony will need to sign up for free tickets; the number of tickets and how they will be distributed remains unclear.

For those who can’t get tickets, the event will be broadcast on giant screens around the city. Demonstrators will be allowed to gather in front of City Hall a few blocks away.

But Pete Johnson, a 58-year-old pharmacist from Columbus, Ohio, who studies the Kennedy assassination in his free time, has launched to urge supporters to descend on the plaza for the ceremony. Some conspiracy theorists believe a second shooter fired at Mr. Kennedy from a patch of grass in the plaza.

“It’s a controversial historical event,” he said, “and they need to allow that controversy to be expressed.”

2 Responses to Dealey Plaza Controversy Featured in Wall Street Journal

  1. January 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    One glance at the Zapruder film convinces any rational person that the fatal shot (the final shot) that struck JFK came from a 2 o’clock position relative to the motorcade…in other words, from the grassy knoll area. JFK’s brain matter was driven backward and to the left, which according to Newtonian physics cannot mean it came from Oswald’s position in the Book Depository.

    All the rest is political posturing.

    Robert Lockwood Mills, author, “Conscience of a Conspiracy Theorist”