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Killing the First Amendment in Dealey Plaza: JFK Assassination 50th Anniversary and the Eyes of Texas (Pt. II)

By Lori Spencer  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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(Article changed on November 30, 2013 at 08:17)

By Lori Spencer

JFK researcher Bob Groden, arrested 81 times by Dallas cops (
(Image by ThisCantBeHappening!))
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"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."

              -- John Judge, executive director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations

DALLAS ---  In Part One of this series on the JFK 50th Anniversary, I covered a two-year battle between the City of Dallas and Kennedy assassination researchers/activists over a fundamental question. Who had the right to use Dealey Plaza on November 22: the people, or the elite? (The elite won that war, of course, but not without some significant losses in the court of public opinion.)

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The battle was fought in the press, in the courtroom, and today it was going to be fought in the streets of Dallas.

The mutual distrust and tension between these opposing forces had come to a boil, despite what appeared on the surface to be an uneasy truce made a week before the November 22 ceremonies. The City of Dallas only gave these last-minute concessions to avoid what would have no doubt been an embarrassing and costly lawsuit threatened by the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).

"Half of my members wanted to go to court, and half wanted to take the mayor's offer." said COPA executive director John Judge. Ultimately, Judge chose the most diplomatic solution, in keeping with the legacy of President Kennedy.

Even if you're not a JFK Truther; even if you honestly think that Lee Harvey Oswald was a disgruntled ex-Marine-turned-Commie with a grudge against Kennedy and an incredibly magic bullet in his old broken-down gun, you gotta wonder. What is it about the JFK conspiracy theorists that causes the establishment so much consternation, anyway? Why is the City of Dallas --- and indeed the government of these United States --- so hellbent on shutting them up? Why has the mainstream media demonized and marginalized Kennedy assassination scholars for five decades?

Who are these people, and why are they so dangerous? Let's meet some of them, shall we?


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Robert Groden is the top dog of JFK conspiracy researchers in Dallas. To some, he's a hero; to others a charlatan. To city officials and the Sixth Floor Museum honchos, he's a Really Big Pain in the Ass. In their occult secret society rituals these powerful men most likely burn his effigy and stick pins in a voodoo doll while chanting Groden's name. More than anything, they'd love to see him take a nice, long, relaxing permanent vacation in someplace like oh, Siberia, for example.

Groden achieved national prominence in 1975 when he fought a legal war to obtain --- and eventually air --- the Zapruder film on national TV. It was the first time the public had ever seen the film. He later worked as a forensic photographic expert to the House Select Committee on Assassinations in 1978 and was a consultant on the 1991 Oliver Stone film, JFK.

For many decades, Groden has been an unofficial sort of tour guide to Dealey Plaza, talking with curious visitors and selling his self-published books, magazines, and videos about the JFK murder. Apparently the Sixth Floor Museum didn't appreciate the competition, and asserted their perceived right to be the only dispenser of information in Dealey Plaza. So they started calling the cops on Groden. Often.

After having been ticketed, arrested, and/or jailed an astonishing 81 times for exercising his right to free speech, Groden filed a federal lawsuit against the city this year and won. Nonetheless, he was still excluded from all city-sponsored "official" ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary and banished from Dealey Plaza on Nov. 22 (his own birthday, ironically).

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper He is a columnist for Counterpunch, is author of several recent books ("This Can't Be Happening! Resisting the (more...)

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