Unfortunately for Robert F. Kennedy’s tragic and weird story, his more-famous-because-he-was-the-president brother was assassinated five years before he was and still steals a lot of the glory. If I’m going to be assassinated, I just hope to god I’m the most famous person in my family to be assassinated.
But even though it’s the less-studied one in the family, the RFK assassination is still fascinating and has produced a ton of conspiracy theories over the years. Which we get into in this week’s episode!
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In 1968, the country was in a massive upheaval. MLK had just been murdered. LBJ had decided not to run for a second term. RFK decided to run for president (why did everyone back then use all three of their initials?). Just after midnight on June 5, 1968, after addressing a crowd of supporters there to celebrate his win in the California primary, Kennedy was being escorted through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles by Olympic athlete Rafer Johnson and NFL star Roosevelt Grier (and not by the secret service, who weren’t assigned to candidates in those days). Just before they reached the rear exit, a 22-year-old Palestinian man named Sirhan Sirhan stepped forward with a rolled up campaign poster that concealed a .22 revolver, and shot Kennedy several times. Kennedy died shortly thereafter. A note in Sirhan’s pocket revealed he was angry with Kennedy over a recent U.S. arms deal with Israel. Sirhan said in a 1989 interview, “my only connection with Robert Kennedy was his sole support of Israel and his deliberate attempt to send those 50 bombers to Israel to obviously do harm to the Palestinians…I was not doing it out of personal malice toward the man, but out of concern for other people.”
But wait! The official story conflicts with a number of reports. Medical reports, for example, show that Kennedy was shot four times from behind, even though all the reports put Sirhan in front of Kennedy, and the fatal bullet entered his head from just an inch away. But Sirhan was never reported to be closer than a foot away, and more likely three feet away. On this conflict alone, in his memoir, former LA County coroner Thomas Noguchi wrote, “thus I have never said that Sirhan Sirhan killed Robert Kennedy.”
It gets weirder! The bullet holes and audio recording from the shooting suggest 13 shots, which means there was a second shooter.
The theories range from Sirhan literally being hypnotized by a woman in a polka dot dress, to a CIA mind-control program called ARTICHOKE that was a precursor to MK ULTRA, to the very-probable “the CIA did it.” Check out the episode to find out more!
Hypnosis Expert William Bryan: https://youtu.be/d1iR4WuKvAY?t=40m40s
A & E Documentary: https://youtu.be/d1iR4WuKvAY?t=21m11s
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