Dealey Plaza is a public park and a designated National Historical Site that has been open to the public over the five decades since President Kennedy was assassinated there. It was meant to encourage visitors to seek and discuss their own history and this critical event. In 1964, Penn Jones, a newspaper editor and early critic of the Warren Commission’s official version of the assassination, began to hold an annual Moment of Silence on the Grassy Knoll (North Pergola) lest we forget the injustice or let the case remain unsolved. At his request, the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) has continued the tradition since his illness and death in the 1990s.
COPA has sought a permit since 2010 for our annual Moment of Silence this 50th anniversary year. We also speak truth to power about the assassination of President Kennedy, who was behind his murder and why he was killed to put others in power in the United States in an un-Constitutional coup.
Instead, the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings reportedly instructed the chairwoman of The 50th Planning Committee, Ruth Sharp Altschuler, who claims to have “no authority in these matters” that he did not want “crazy conspiracy theory” on the Grassy Knoll on November 22. This was in 2011.
Nicole Longford, director of the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas School Book Depository, which has memorialized the false sniper’s nest of the discredited Warren Commission Report and blamed Lee Harvey Oswald as the assassin, was quoted in the Dallas Morning News, saying she took out an exclusive permit for Dealey Plaza on November 22 to be “proactive” (pre-emptive?) on behalf of the Mayor to prevent “a circus, a carnival atmosphere and conspiracy theory” on the 50th anniversary at the Grassy Knoll.
The Sixth Floor permit was taken out with no event planned and Longford told the DMN that they were still planning what to do, including “maybe a moment of silence”. Sadly such a “moment of silence” about the assassination and the political truth it reveals will instead mark a Perpetuity of Silence. When approached, she told the Coalition on Political Assassinations that, “We simply suggest that you set aside the national and international press attention to his death to another moment.” What other moment could that possibly be?
The Mayor knows the press is coming from all over the world that day to Dealey Plaza. He is a career advertising man, and he wants to do a massive public relations event to show the world that Dallas loved and still loves John F. Kennedy, with a “solemn and dignified event that celebrates his life and legacy”, but refuses to mention his assassination at that time and place. It would be like celebrating the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln on April 14 at the Ford Theater where he was shot in Washington, DC.
Mayor Rawlings and his planning committee set up a website to allow everyone interested to apply for a ticket to an event that will hold 5,000 people starting at 11:45 in Dealey Plaza, to be drawn by random from over 13,700 who applied, and half of whom must be Dallas area residents. The other 8,700 who are not issued a ticket, and perhaps “tens of thousands” coming to Dealey Plaza that day, according to the Mayor, will be turned away at barricades and asked to watch the event at other parks.
COPA also celebrates JFK’s life and legacy, and we think it got him killed. We just held an annual commemoration on June 10th of Kennedy’s 1963 speech at American University calling for real peace, a detente with the Soviet Union, and an end to the nuclear testing and arms race, as well as nuclear disarmament. That was likely the last nail in his coffin. His speech the next day, June 11, addressing the racial justice issue in America was similarly controversial and was followed that night with the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers. More major assassinations would follow of those who led social movements for racial and social justice and to end the war in Vietnam as well as the Cold War, including Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his brother Robert F. Kennedy, who had also vowed to reopen JFK’s assassination once elected to the presidency in 1968.
The Mayor’s hired publicist, Laurie Peat discussed COPA at early planning meetings and asserted that Dallas did not want “conspiracists” on the Grassy Knoll. The Mayor asked how many chairs would be on the Grassy Knoll, and that they would have to fill them.
At the opening event for “The 50th” anniversary in Dallas, the Mayor sat in a large audience to hear Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. assert that his father, the former Attorney General under President Kennedy, never believed the conclusions of the Warren Commission and started his own investigation into a conspiracy behind the assassination of his brother. This was greeted with loud applause because we are not the dissent but the majority view among Americans, 85% of whom discount the Warren Commission and believe a conspiracy killed their president according to recent polls.
In our meeting with the Mayor, researcher Jeff Morley asked if Robert F. Kennedy would be welcome to speak at the Mayor’s event, and he said he would “but he would have to stay on point”. Apparently nobody will have free speech there that day. Among the items banned from the Mayor’s exclusive, ticketed event are “banners, signs, bullhorns or megaphones”. We are told this is for security purposes, but ironically guns and weapons are not listed as prohibited that day.
COPA will hold its annual Moment of Silence at the JFK Memorial site in Founders Square just off Elm Street, east of the Plaza at 12:30 pm, simultaneous with the Mayor’s event, and again when COPA and the public are finally allowed into Dealey Plaza at 2:30 pm. We hope you will stay and join us. COPA will also hold its 20th annual conference this year on the assassinations of JFK and others, from November 22-24 at the Aloft Hotel, 1033 Young Street, a few blocks from the Plaza. For information see www.politicalassassinations.com.