Friday, April 04, 2008

Assassination Copycats

Do assassinations come in copycat clusters? Historically, such situations appear to have occurred.

Forty years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. On April 3, King in Memphis, addressed a rally, delivering his "I've been to the Mountaintop" address at Mason Temple (Church of God in Christ, Inc. – World Headquarters). King was shot on the 4th of April, while standing on the 2nd floor balcony, near his room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

On April 4, 1968, Robert F. Kennedy, the then-senator from New York State, learned of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and gave a moving impromptu speech in Indianapolis' inner city, in which Kennedy called for a reconciliation between the races. Riots broke out in 60 cities in the wake of King's death, but not Indianapolis, a fact many attribute to the effect of Kennedy's speech. (Barack Obama recalled that speech while speaking himself from Indianapolis on April 4, 2008.)

On April 7, 1968, Black Panther Bobby Hutton, who held the title of the Minister of Defense, was killed. Bobby Hutton, or "Lil' Bobby," was the youngest member of the Black Panther Party. He joined soon after the conception of the BPP in 1966, at the age of 16. He was killed by the Oakland, California, police after a firefight. Eight Black Panther Party members, including Hutton, Eldridge Cleaver and David Hilliard, were traveling in two cars when they were allegedly ambushed by the Oakland police. Cleaver was wounded. Both the Oakland police and the Black Panther Party each called the event an ambush by the other group. Two policemen were shot in the incident.

Rudi Dutschke born Alfred Willi Rudi Dutschke (March 7, 1940 – December 24, 1979, Ã…rhus, Denmark) was the most prominent spokesperson of the left-wing German student movement of the 1960s. He famously split from those who went on to form the violent Red Army Faction and advocated instead "a long march through the institutions" of power to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the system's machinery.

On April 11, 1968, Dutschke was shot in the head by Josef Bachmann. After the attempted assassination, Dutschke lived for another 12 years until related health problems caused his death. Because of massive brain damage from the assassination attempt, Rudi Dutschke continued to suffer the effects for the rest of his life. He died on December 24, 1979 in Aarhus, Denmark, when he had an epileptic seizure while in his bathtub and drowned.

On June 3, 1968, Andy Warhol, while in his New York loft, was shot by frustrated writer, Factory-hanger-on Valerie Solanas. The Pop Art guru barely survived the shooting, and would face physical repercussions from the assassination attempt until his death in 1987.

On June 4, 1968, presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy had just scored a major victory from winning the California Democratic primary. He addressed his supporters in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968, in a ballroom at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He left the ballroom through a service area to walk through and greet supporters working in the hotel's kitchen. In a crowded kitchen passageway, Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, a 24-year-old Palestinian, opened fire with a .22 caliber revolver and shot Kennedy in the head at close range. Following the shooting, Kennedy was rushed to The Good Samaritan Hospital where he died the next day.

June 5, 1968, was the first anniversary of the Six-Day War between the military forces of Israel versus Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Iraq.

There has been no assassination of a major political figure resulting in a fatality of any leader in the United States since 1968. There have been killings of minor figures, assassination attempts against significant individuals, and some of these events have come in clusters.

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