Thursday, January 3, 2013

Occupy Grassy Knoll

This is a call from Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA) to Occupy the Grassy Knoll in Dallas for our Moment of Silence at 12:30 pm on November 22, 2013

The denial of a permit for COPA to hold it’s annual Moment of Silence is a free speech issue. Our event has always been “solemn and respectful” save to those who want to forget what happened in Dallas on November 22, 1963 and opt for perpetual silence instead.

We will inform the Sixth Floor Museum and the Mayor’s office of our planned event, which has been held since it was started by Penn Jones, Jr. in 1964 up on the Grassy Knoll in Dealey Plaza, next to Abraham Zapruder’s perch on the pergola, from which he caught the event on a Super 8 camera, a film that convinced the American public, who finally saw it in the 1970s, that there had to have been a shooter to the front of the limousine who hit President Kennedy in the head.

We cannot remember Kennedy’s life by forgetting his death, it’s historical significance and the impunity of those who carried out this still unsolved homicide. I hope you will be out there with us this year and next on November 22 to retain what little is left of democracy in America. We will hold our banners and call for a Moment of Silence and then speak truth to power about the assassinations of the 1960s and since.

Please let us know now if you plan to attend the 50th anniversary COPA conference in 2013 by filling out the form below and getting it back to us before the end of the year. No need to pay until June 30, but we need to make plans based on how many will be coming. You don’t want to miss it! We will have the best researchers of the last five decades. See the details below, followed by our reaction to being covered in the Wall Street Journal regarding the denial of a permit for our annual tradition of a Moment of Silence at the Grassy Knoll. National attention will certainly help our cause, but we will go to court if necessary on this one. The article also mentions Pete Johnson’s website, with more on our plans for the event. Whatever happens, we will be visible somehow at Dealey Plaza and to the thousands who will be denied access. Hope to hear from you soon, have a wonderful New Year! John Judge

If you pre-register before December 31 for the 50th anniversary COPA conference in 2013 you can get special discount rates and help us plan for the event. To help us out, you can choose to stay at either the Hotel Lawrence or the Hyatt Regency at low rates, and I will provide their discount codes soon so you can book your rooms. Attending the banquet will reduce the cost of our meeting room space for the conference. You do not have to send the registration and banquet fees until June 30 next year, but you need to pre-register now to avoid higher rates. Please fill in the form below and return it by email or mail to me. We have 57 people signed up so far. Hope you will be there with us! Have a happy holiday – John Judge

We are planning a major COPA conference for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas for 2013. We will be inviting the best researchers involved over the last five decades in that assassination as well as others and presenting the best new evidence available from released records and ongoing investigations. We will be calling for a full release of all records and for renewed legal investigations and actions on these still unsolved murders.

Our founding president, Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, JD, MD has already confirmed, as have Walt Brown, Bob Groden, David Talbot and others. We plan to have the best conference yet next year so you won’t want to miss it. Please mark your calendar now and let me know you are coming, even if you responded before please fill in the form below and send it back soon.

In order to make plans for room blocks and a banquet meal for our 20th annual conference in Dallas, a major event that will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to be held from November 22-24, 2013, we need to know whether you plan to be there. If we do not get over 100 confirmations for the special awards dinner soon, we cannot make it happen. We also need to know if you want to stay at the Hyatt Regency which sits above Dealey Plaza, at a special discount rate of $99 per night, or at the nearby Hotel Lawrence for $79 per room night for single rooms. Please fill in the form below and return it to me as soon as possible, and no later than December 31, 2012.

I have also set a special pre-registration rate of $100 for the conference, which does not include the cost of the meal. This early registration rate has to be paid to COPA online or by mail before June 30, 2013. After that the cost of registration will increase. Feel free to send the registration fee in now as well if you can. So, please make your plans now and RSVP on the form below – John Judge

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 Constitution, 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
December 26, 2012
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 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.”

Skeptics of JFK assassination official version say they're barred from 50th anniversary
Published January 02, 2013

A Washington-based group that has long questioned the official version of John F. Kennedy's assassination says the city of Dallas is trampling its rights by barring it from Dealey Plaza for this year's 50th anniversary of the murder of the nation's 35th president.
The Coalition on Political Assassinations has gathered every year since 1994 at the site where Kennedy was killed by a sniper on Nov. 22, 1963. The group typically observes a  moment of silence and members often give speeches. But this year it was denied a permit, the group's director told 

"It's ironic that the city wants to celebrate JFK's life -- and not his death -- at the very place where he was assassinated," John Judge, the executive director of the group, said. "They are afraid of the thousands of people that will come to the site to commemorate his death and call for the truth."

"They are afraid of the thousands of people that will come to the site to commemorate his death and call for the truth."

-         John Judge, Coalition on Political Assassinations

The annual gatherings were first loosely organized by journalist Penn Jones, who was one of the earliest skeptics of the official explanation of the assassination. Judge was a friend of Jones, who died in 1998.

"When he died, I promised him I would keep the tradition going," Judge said.

Although a federal commission studied the shooting and determined that Lee Harvey Oswald, a socialist drifter and former Marine, had acted alone, the assassination has long been the subject of conspiracy theories. Judge said his coalition, which focuses on killings ranging from the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., to recent drone attacks in the Middle East, has no single theory about how Kennedy was killed. But the group rejects the findings of the Warren Commission and does not believe Oswald, who was killed two days after the assassination, played any role in Kennedy's death.  

Regardless of who killed Kennedy, Judge believes his group has every right to mark the date at the site.

"This is content-based denial of free speech in a public park," Judge wrote on his organization's website. "Dealey Plaza belongs to history and to the American people, especially on the 50th anniversary."

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings denied that the city banned the coalition from the event, but acknowledged that officials intend to focus on the late president's life and ensure the event was open "mainly" to residents of Dallas.

"We make sure that opposing voices are heard in Dallas and celebrate freedom of speech," Rawlings said. "But with this event, we focus on Kennedy's life and legacy."

In May, Rawlings put together a committee called The 50th Committee, to organize the anniversary. Most board members were alive to remember the president's assassination.
"We have one board member who was waiting for Kennedy at a luncheon that he never attended," Rawlings said.

Rawlings, for his part, remembers sitting cross-legged inside the Leawood Elementary School's gym in Kansas and being told the news by his teacher.

"I knew it was important," he recalls. "It was the president."

Rawlings said his office has reached out to Judge to discuss the event.

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