John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the center of attention Friday as the nation came together to recognize the 50th anniversary of his assassination. As the day begun, even before early morning commuters were commencing their routes, it was clear that the weather was not going to smile down on the event. Conditions were frigid, drizzly, and topped off with an erratic but biting wind. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the ceremony honoring John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the contrast between protestors, present throughout the ceremony, and the approved guests which showed that there were two drastically different sides to the ceremony which is being called “The 50th.”
The two sides were seemingly night and day in appearance, attire, accessories, and attitude. They also appeared to be divided, as has been the case for the last 50 years, in the their views of what set of circumstances ultimately led to the death of the 35th President.
First, there were the nearly 5000 “approved guests” who enjoyed a well-organized, coordinated event which the City of Dallas spent immense effort to put together and administrate.
The approved guests enjoyed a performance of “America the Beautiful” by the U.S. Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club.
From the perspective of the distinguished city officials, along with the individuals and media who were allowed to attend by special invite only, the ceremony was near flawless. The organization was first class, the layout appealing, world viewership off the charts, and the speeches well written and carried out.
The result was a ceremony that was aired and narrated beautifully, the City of Dallas along with the officials who coordinated to provide the City with added security did a good job in making sure that the set-up was well designed, the perimeter reinforced, and the ceremony carried out without any visible mistakes or mishaps.
Perhaps the only uncomfortable or negative aspect of the entire proceedings from the perspective of the City and its specially approved invitees was that the weather did not seem to wish to comply with the days events, providing frigid conditions in which the ceremony was carried out.
So, at the close of the day it would seem that the ceremony, commemorating the life and honoring the death of the 35th President of the United States, went through to completion without anything unusual taking place. It would be hard to believe that an incident which has sparked 50 years of speculation, accusations, theories, unanswered questions, reports, books, interviews, arguments, discord, and controversy would have just gone from start to finish without one individual speaking out. Any individual who has witnessed a discussion among people with differing opinions as to what occurred 50 years ago would suspect that surely someone in the crowd stood up and interrupted the proceedings. That surely someone somewhere decided to throw reverence and caution to the wind and stand up to boldly proclaim their contrarian views or ideas about the events which transpired.
It would be near unfathomable, after half a century of debates, fallouts, criticisms, theories, and accusations, to think that this entire event went from start to finish without any dissenters around. And as it turns out, it didn’t. There was a large group of protesters, who appeared to take issue with what they viewed to be an infringement of free speech, who experienced the honorary ceremony in a much different manner than the specially approved and invited guests.
First, the event for the protesters started a few blocks from Dealey Plaza at Belo Garden. From there the protesters, chanting and raising signs of protest, made their way towards the police perimeter which was set up a in an approximately 3-4 block radius around the Plaza.
Led by a recognized alternative media host, who is known for covering unpopular and contrarian topics, and occasionally raising his voice in the process, a group of protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against what they viewed to be a violation of their constitutionally protected right of free speech.
The group seemed to also be characterized by their general overall rejection of the official conclusion of Oswald as the lone gunman, and although views appeared to differ, seemed as a whole to believe that there was more to the story of the events which transpired in Dealey Plaza 50 years ago.
As a result of the fact that they were not allowed partake in the official ongoings, the protesters gathered together and held an “unofficial” ceremony of their own before making their way toward Dealey Plaza to continue their demonstration. The protesters energetically put forth their contributions to their event before the rally headed out from Belo Gardens and proceeded to march toward the “official” ceremony.
Ideas amongst the protesters varied quite a bit. however, the group appeared to have a clear consensus in a few areas, namely that they believed that due to the selection process and subsequent exclusion of non-invitees along with supposed limitations put on the group regarding the distribution of printed materials, that their free speech was being infringed upon.
Although the ideas endorsed varied somewhat, the protesters seemed to rally around the position that the truth had not been revealed concerning the Kennedy assassination and much more existed than what was suggested by the Warren Commission.
After making their way down and around approximately four city blocks, the protesters arrived at a police barricade set out an additional block away from another interior barricade. From this point the protesters began to voice their opinions more passionately as the police watched on appearing to feel out the situation.
Eventually the police allowed the protesters to enter into the outer perimeter, although at first it seemed that they would not be allowed to enter at all into the area.
This was the perspective of the protesters, looking on the proceedings from directly behind the stage.
There was a small moment of mutual respect, when the protesters, in spite of their strong opinions and disagreements with the majority of the message represented by the specially approved invitees, did remain relatively quite and enjoy the Navy vocal group treat the audience to its rendition of “America the Beautiful.” There was a nice moment of silence and appreciation that could be felt. That however quickly dissipated as the program wound down and eventually protesters and Sherrif’s Deputies became a little touchy with one another, resulting in a bit of shoving and posturing as the two groups engaged eachother.
After it was all said and done, it was clear that a significant number of individuals came to the event, but there were two very distinct perspectives from which “The 50th” was observed. On the one hand, there was the specially selected and approved invitees, along with distinguished city officials, and the message which that group of individuals represented. While on the other hand, there was a sizable group of protesters, who seemed to embody the exact opposite message. Though they did differ, the two groups did seem to share one moment of mutual respect and appreciation for the Navy men.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was remembered today by the whole world, but at the site of the ceremony, where it was protesters vs “approved guests,” there were clearly two sides to “The 50th” ceremony. The protesters, led by outspoken contrarian and well known radio host, Alex jones certainly made known that there were some people who had not and, by all appearances, will not stand by when there is an opportunity to go out and actively represent what one believes. While the protesters did not appear necessarily seem focused on creating a unified view of exactly what happened on November 22, 1963, the one clear and unified message of the group which did come across was:
John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s impact can be clearly noted when half a century after his passing he still elicits such strong feelings from the people of the United States of America, and the world. By the events which transpired today, it seems as though his legacy will continue to live on, along with a group of people who will continue seeking more answer for what happened at Dealey Plaza in years gone by.
By Daniel Worku
[Check back for and update which will include video of the the protests. All photos shot by the author. Additional photos may be added with video of protest.]