Conspiracy theories

John F KennedyOn November 22, 1963 – forty-three years ago today – President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. As a student of history, I went thru what I call my JFK phase, where I read everything I could get my hands on about him and his assassination. I have a copy of the Warren Commission Report. I have copies of all the films taken that day, including the famous Zapruder one. I have original newspapers from the time, some collected by my family, others I purchased. I have a copy of the report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations. I have the autopsy photographs. If there was a book written about the assassination, I probably have a copy. Heck, I’ve even talked to an FBI agent who was in the bureau at the time just to get a sense of the mood.

The idea that a lone gunman could have pulled off such a feat never resonated with many. As the result, books and articles on the various conspiracy theories abound. The cottage industry that sprouted was fueled by the lack of information regarding the assassination at the time. I think that November 22, 1963 was the day our innocence was stolen, where our faith in our government to tell us what really happened was shattered. As a people, I believe we have become more cynical and less distrusting about “government reports” of such things.

Seneca DardenWhich brings me to Seneca Darden, the Norfolk police officer killed in the line of duty by a fellow officer. I have written about the Darden case a number of times, so I will not repeat myself here. The latest twist in this case is the “investigation” by former NAACP president John Wesley Hill. Hill is also a former police officer and was one of my opponents in last year’s Treasurer’s race. I put investigation in quotation marks because Hill’s report included interviews with residents of Young Terrace, where the shooting occurred, but none of the police officers. Hill was denied access to the officers. Hill concluded that the shooting was a crime and that it is being covered up.

Sound familiar?

The fact that the death of Darden was investigated by the State Police and that the Commonwealth’s Attorney found no basis to charge the officer is not enough information. Despite requests by the Mayor, the State Police will not release the full report. Because of this refusal, the theories will continue to circulate.

The only answer to this is to release the report. Or will we still be talking about a conspiracy forty years from now in the Darden case?

3 thoughts on “Conspiracy theories

  1. Vivian:

    I’m like you…I’ve always had a fascination for All Things Kennedy, including, sadly, the assassinations of both Kennedy brothers. When asked who my ultimate political hero is, I always reply that it was and is Bobby Kennedy. So much could have been better, so much could have been different had he lived…but that’s an eternal post or book in and of itself.

    I have a CD-ROM on the JFK assassination, something you would very much enjoy. I, too, have an old, hardcover copy of the Warren Commission report, and I still find it chilling to read when Jack Ruby basically says, “Get me out of Dallas and I can talk. Take me to Washington and I can talk, but not here.” And he told that to none other than Earl Warren himself. I always think of JFK on this date. Like you, I”ve seen every movie, TV or studio feature, ever made, and will be in the theatre to see the Emilio Estevez thing….My books on the Kennedys would almost make up a small library themselves….I’m getting ready to read the Evan Thomas book on RFK…I’ve even read the books that tore apart some of the more romantic images of the Kennedys, and find value in them, too, for various reasons. One is “The Dark Side of Camelot,” by Seymour Hersh. Very interesting book.

    If I ever had the pleasure of meeting you, we could exhaust this subject I’m sure….Over the years, though, I’m not as sure as I used to be that there was a conspiracy in JFK’s death, although I know all the obviously unanswered questions and contradictory theories of the Warren report. I’m not even a “conspiracy theorist” in general, but I see the point you are making about the Norfolk case.

    In Lynchburg, we had the death of an African-American man after a “scuffle” with police just a few months ago. That death is currenly being probed by the State Police. Civil rights leaders here have asked for a federal investigation, but were turned down. I believe there’s a story today at of their second request for a federal investigation. In this case, the city cops have refused to release 911 calls relating to that case. The whole thing started when the cops went looking for someone, and even went to the wrong door at an apartment complex, where they got into it with the man who wound up dead.

    There are much more details than I can provide here. But your point is still true: there is mystery and evil in the world…and “officials” don’t always tell the truth.

    Before this day ends, I intend to watch the opening sequence of Oliver Stone’s JFK…you know, the part that goes to the shooting itself before the story takes off with Kevin Costner, etc. I think that brief part encapsulates very well the promise of JFK and the sadness of his untimely death. It’s good to know I’m not the only one thinking of Kennedys and their place in history on this day of Nov. 22.

    (Also, I posted an earlier entry on “West of Shockoe” and mis-spelled your last name. My apologies.)

    I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

  2. You may have the same CD that I have on the assassination. I started into RFK and never got quite as involved as I did with JFK.

    Interesting case in Lynchburg (my sister lives there, by the way). I see that the State Police investigation is not yet complete. Perhaps something will come out of that which will satisfy folks. But if they don’t release the report, expect a response similar to that here.

    Anytime there is less than a full airing of the facts, conspiracy theories will sprout. Why those in charge don’t get that I’ll never understand.

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