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Tribute to Senator Robert F. Kennedy

This gallery contains thirteen photographs scanned from Dan Moldea's book "The Killing of Robert F. Kennedy".



Conspiracy Theory for Dummies -- The Fatal Shot

In Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968, Senator Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Right after winning the California Primary, Senator Kennedy was making his way from the ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel to a press conference. The pre-arranged route went through a food service pantry before leading to the press conference area. While enroute, a Palestinian Arab, Sirhan Sirhan, stepped forward and fired a .22-caliber revolver at Senator Kennedy. Although Sirhan Sirhan was quickly tackled, Kennedy and five others were wounded. Sirhan Sirhan was arrested at the scene and later convicted of first-degree murder. Senator Robert F. Kennedy died the next day.


The murder of Senator Kennedy shocked the entire nation for at least two reasons. First, it was certain that Kennedy would be the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. The polls clearly showed that Kennedy was way ahead of his opponent, Richard Nixon. If he had not been murdered, it was likely that he would have been elected President. Second, it was a turbulent time and Kennedy favored very progressive solutions to the country's problems: Anti-war protests were flaring up all across the country, and Kennedy wanted to end the Vietnam War. The poor were battling for their rights, and Kennedy proposed new ways to help them. During the Civil Rights Movement, Kennedy embraced the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and promised equality for all when he reached the White House. The country needed change and that's what Kennedy proposed. He gave people hope and the courage to move past the hard times and into a more promising future. Sadly, his brutal murder ended this dream and plunged an entire generation into despair.

Why was he killed? Why would someone want to kill a person who believed in peace and social change? The convicted murderer was just a crazy Palestinian who was mad at the U.S. government for supporting Israel, or was he? At quick glance, the murder of Kennedy seemed like an open and shut case. They tackled the shooter, took the gun and arrested him. It was as simple as that, right? Even Sirhan Sirhan's lawyers thought he was guilty. Still, it was not so simple; there were some complications with the investigation and trial, and huge amounts of evidence were either damaged or missing. Also, the trial was speedy and not as in depth as it should have been. Sirhan Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He would have been sentenced to death, but it was ruled to be unconstitutional.

So what were the complications? First, the autopsy report prepared by Dr. Thomas Noguchi clearly stated that the shot that entered Kennedy's neck was fired behind his right ear. Every single eyewitness account of the shooting stated that Sirhan Sirhan was several feet away and in front of the Senator when he started shooting. This autopsy report alone shows that it was impossible that the fatal shot came from Sirhan Sirhan's .22-caliber gun. The autopsy report wasn't given to the defense team, until a few minutes before the trial began. This delay of crucial evidence that could prove Sirhan Sirhan's innocence was quite unusual, especially in a case of that magnitude.

Another piece of overwhelming evidence involved the pantry where Kennedy was shot. During its investigation, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), removed ceiling and door panels that had several bullet holes in them. The panels clearly proved that there were more than eight shots fired at the time of the shooting. However, Sirhan Sirhan's .22-caliber gun held only eight bullets. This evidence was not used at the trial, and it was destroyed in the mid 1970s by the LAPD because they claimed that there was no storage space available for it.

An eyewitness named Scott Enyard provided one of the most astonishing pieces of evidence. He was in the pantry with a fake press pass taking pictures when the shooting took place. He witnessed several armed men shooting in the pantry that night and he captured it on film. He was arrested at the scene and taken back to the Police department. His film was confiscated and has never been seen again. Why would the police want to get rid of evidence that showed others might have been involved in the shooting? Did the LAPD have a different agenda? One last piece of evidence was the 2,400 photographs that the police burned because they were "duplicates." In fact, there were no lists precise enough to show that all the photos destroyed were indeed duplicates.


Don't forget to fill up, when you can!

Ultimately, the point is that even if Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Kennedy, he wasn't given a fair trial. Evidence was tampered with, missing, or not presented. The big question is why crucial evidence was not used or presented properly. This leaves room for a lot of speculation, and this speculation wouldn't exist if the correct process had been conducted. The possible cover-up that may have taken place hurts us as a nation because it reveals that our own government officials did not follow the law. We all deserve to know what really happened on June 5, 1968. The only logical way to find out more solid information is to have a retrial with all the evidence presented correctly and in its entirety. I think the Kennedy family and the nation deserves it.

Since so much evidence was tampered with, it's hard to determine what is fact and fiction. We may never know if Sirhan Sirhan was guilty or innocent because justice has been obstructed through mistreatment of key witnesses, physical evidence, and due process. To make sure this doesn't happen again, we as citizens have a responsibility to question our government. Doing this will make them more accountable, and help us be more informed. Ultimately it will make us a stronger nation.

The assassination of Robert F. Kennedy changed the world. If he had become president our country might have been much different. Troops in Vietnam would have been withdrawn much earlier and many lives could have been saved. A struggling generation would have had a leader that was more representative of their beliefs. Maybe the Watergate scandal would not have happened. This single event changed the course of American history, and we still don't know the whole truth about it.

The lesson to be learned from the Kennedy assassination is that, we must be very thorough when investigating cases of this magnitude. We also must ensure that government officials do not bypass the Constitution, but if they do, they must be punished just like anybody else who violates the laws. As citizens we have to be knowledgeable of our rights and the rights of others. Otherwise, it leaves the door of injustice open for anyone to walk through.


Please email me at: nick@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

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Stephanie -The frigid blast of military might known as the Cold War
Daphne - Mary Jane and Jack Daniels can really screw you up
Nick - A deadly bullet and a mishandled trial: Dark days for America
Making A Difference - America: home of the free and the brave? Stephen - Hey! Pass some of that cold cash with acid rain garnish my way