Robert Groden: The Plaza Man

Categories: People 2012

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In this week's Dallas Observer, we profile 30 of the metro area's most interesting characters, with new portraits of each from local photographer Mark Graham. See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue here

On November 22, 1963, the day President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza, Robert Groden was an 18-year-old kid at home playing hooky from Forest Hills High School in the nice part of Queens, New York. He sat glued to the television watching a grim but unreal saga unfold -- something out of a cheap detective novel set in some distant banana republic -- all of it in living black and white, all of it coming from some strange city 1,400 miles away called Dallas.

Since that day Groden has devoted his entire life to ferreting out the truth beneath the surface of the bizarre pictures that flashed across his TV screen a half century ago. Author of seven books on the Kennedy assassination, including a New York Times best-seller, Groden now lives here and lectures and sells his books and videotapes to tourists in Dealey Plaza.

He has been ticketed more than 80 times by the city, arrested and jailed twice. All of these alleged infractions have been tossed out by city courts as violations by the city of Groden's First Amendment rights. At this moment the city is appealing its latest defeat in a years-long battle to silence him.

Groden believes the Kennedy assassination was a conspiracy involving more people than just Lee Harvey Oswald. The city of Dallas' institutional voice on the assassination emanates from the Sixth Floor Museum in the old School Book Depository Building, a place fiercely committed to the idea that Oswald acted alone and the case is now closed.

This conflict -- between those who want to keep the case open and those who want it shut -- may come to a crisis next year on November 22, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary. The city has turned Dealey Plaza over to the Sixth Floor Museum for the week, with apparent power to bar the presence of people the museum deems objectionable.

Groden, a soft-spoken man with a slight scholarly stoop in his shoulders, says he will be there. "I plan on being in Dealey Plaza and standing up for First Amendment rights," he vows.

Asked what he tells people back home about his experiences here and the kind of city he has found Dallas to be over the years, Groden says, "I tell people it's a great city with great people and a really corrupt government."

See the entire Dallas Observer People Issue.

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22 comments
konrad.dennis
konrad.dennis

very important question about LBJ being sworn in after JFK assination. Why is man to his right winking to LBJ?

konrad.dennis
konrad.dennis

very important question about LBJ being sworn in afterJFK assination

Kimsinger9
Kimsinger9

Thank you Robert for keeping focus on this very sad and disturbing event. It is important to know what truly happened on that day, the days leading up to, and the many, many cover ups since. The American public deserves to know.

COPA
COPA

 Why not make the official story lovers go to such an area, then? Everyone knows that the press, crowds and world attention will be focused on Dealey Plaza. An exclusive permit in a public park at an historical site itself violates the First Amendment and free speech rights of the American people who really own that site now. The idea of a free speech zone is any oxymoron, especially when it is placed somewhere no one can see or hear it. Your suggestion is a blatant example of your arrogance and your ignorance of the First Amendment which prohibits just such content based denials of rights. No one is stopping the Sixth Floor Museum from doing anything, but they have nothing planned. They just wanted to be sure others would not talk about "conspiracy theory". Why don't the same rules apply to you "coincidence theorists"? The Coalition on Political Assassinations will hold a Moment of Silence on November 22 this year and on the 50th anniversary at 12:30 pm on the Grassy Knoll as has been done since 1964, and we will speak truth to power despite those who think we should be so happy to have free speech we just sit down and shut up about it. This is America, this is a democracy, we have a Bill of Rights. There is no use in protecting inoffensive speech, it is just this sort of censorship you propose that marks those who do not want to live in a democracy or accord rights to those who disagree with them.

Jay
Jay

I believe the reasonable thing for the city of Dallas to do as part of the 50 year commemoration of the assassination (which I find morbid and unnecessary) is to designate a "protest area" outside Dealey Plaza where conspiracy theorists and other agenda driven participants can hold their signs, peddle their pamphlets or sell their wares.     

JimS
JimS

Try the courts.

Joe L
Joe L

I think there must be more to this story than the Observer has told us. This is probably not about first amendment rights but violation of some banal CIty Ordinance conceived to control disruptive activity.  Anybody know the whole story, including the CIty's side?

Joe L
Joe L

The Kennedy assassination has been beat to death by serious researchers and paranoid eccentrics like Groden from around the World for 50 years.  For 50 years people have tried to turn up some conspiracy and not really turned up any credible evidence. Just wacky theories. There really doesn't seem to be any thing to suggest that the Kennedy assassination was any thing more than the act of an unbalanced guy as nutty as the conspiracy theorists. However, I think the Convention and Visitors' Bureau should encourage the nutjobs because, like the revived TV show Dallas, it adds interest and local color to the city and probably attracts a few tourists and brings a few people downtown.. The conspiracy theorists are probably harmless unless one of them gets so paranoid he wants to kill some innocent victim as revenge for the Kennedy assassination.  But of course, most of the people involved have passed on now.

Greg Jaynes
Greg Jaynes

C'mon Robert. The 1st amendment is in play in Dealey plaza 365 days a year. Just because The Sixth Floor Museum wants to have an event which they manage does not impede your rights. You seem to think they have to turn the place over to you 365 days a year or it's a violation of your rights. WRONG!! Others have 1st amendment rights too ( as long as John Roberts isn't the one judging- never know what he'll do).

Jfk-collector
Jfk-collector

There has been many step forward.. We see, we here, we understand.. This crime is orchetrated from beginning till the end.. That end is not yet and miltary intelligence is written all over it... 

Raquel Baranow
Raquel Baranow

CIA killed JFK. University of Arizona once harassed me for the same thing Groden is doing, I sued the University (ACLU helped) and we won.

Jfk-collector
Jfk-collector

Robert Gorden is a credible source stading up for all of us that seek truth and justice.. I would be glad to stand with him under any circumstances.... Bob Cochran

Jordy LaMont
Jordy LaMont

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free". -John 8:32

Robert Morrow
Robert Morrow

Lyndon Johnson played a critical role in the JFK assassination. "Civil rights" was LBJ's keep out of jail card for murdering JFK. Johnson had to coopt/appease liberals who justifiably suspected Johnson in the JFK assassination. [Robert Morrow – researcher into the 1963 Coup d’Etat. I have 300+ books related to the JFK assassination. Google my essay “LBJ-CIA Assassination of JFK”]   If you want to get quickly “up to speed” on the JFK assassination, here is what to read:   1) LBJ: Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination by Phillip Nelson 2) JFK and the Unspeakable:Why He Died and Why it Matters by James Douglass 3) Brothers: the Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot 4) The Dark Side of Camelot by Seymour Hersh 5) Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty by Russ Baker 6) Power Beyond Reason: The Mental Collapse of Lyndon Johnson by Jablow Hershman 7) Google the essay “LBJ-CIA Assassination of JFK” by Robert Morrow 8) Google “National Security State and the Assassination of JFK by Andrew Gavin Marshall.” 9) Google “Chip Tatum Pegasus.” Intimidation of Ross Perot 1992 10) Google “Vincent Salandria False Mystery Speech.” Read everything Vincent Salandria ever wrote. 11) Google "Unanswered Questions as Obama Annoints HW Bush" by Russ Baker 12) Google "Did the Bushes Help to Kill JFK" by Wim Dankbaar 13) Google "The Holy Grail of the JFK story" by Jefferson Morley 14) Google "The CIA and the Media" by Carl Bernstein 15) Google "CIA Instruction to Media Assets 4/1/67" 16) Google "Limit CIA Role to Intelligence" Harry Truman on 12/22/63 17) Google "Dwight Eisenhower Farewell Address" on 1/17/61 18) Google "Jerry Policoff NY Times." Read everything Jerry Policoff ever wrote about the CIA media cover up of the JFK assassination.

Robert Morrow
Robert Morrow

People who deny that Lyndon Johnson and/or military intelligence murdered John Kennedy are the moral and intellectual equivalent of Holocaust deniers. Although I think Oswald was aware and involved in the plot to kill JFK - mainly because he was CIA - the whole case against him was fabricated. My God, isn't it OBVIOUS from the Zapruder film that the kill shot to JFK came from the front?

Jay
Jay

"... the Sixth Floor Museum in the old School Book Depository Building, a place fiercely committed to the idea that Oswald acted alone and the case is now closed." In fact, the Sixth Floor Museum has an extensive collection of conspiracy theorist materials on permanent display. What the museum lacks, and what Mr. Groden also lacks, is any tangible proof whatsoever that Oswald had accomplices, or that the assassination was part of a conspiracy. 

dfwenigma
dfwenigma

Groden had been there peaceably selling his book and talking to people for years. I've talked to Mr. Groden and others like him there at the Knoll for probably 15 years. He was out there regularly. The city didn't begin to even think about removing him before rather conservative elements at the Dallas School Book Depository began to complain that he would ruin their little ceremony. They weren't much interested when people talked about the anniversary several years ago - in fact I wrote them and received no response. But that's typical of the Fifth Floor Museum - they see themselves as esthetes out to protect Dallas' reputation - to heck with any truth wherever it may be.

dfwenigma
dfwenigma

Well as one of the "nut jobs" I am quite convinced that Kennedy was assassinated by men other than Oswald. I think there's ample forensic evidence to support such a claim - I also think there are people who were then Southern Democrats, now Republicans, who would be very upset if a conspiracy, a coup d'etat were proven. It certainly would upset their collective applecarts. Some very powerful men here in Dallas wanted control of the White House, the mob certainly had no love loss for the Kennedy's and Lyndon Johnson was not a happy man when Kennedy was nominated in his stead. He certainly believed that he had been unjustly treated. Sounds awfully similar to the stolen election of 2004 when rather conservative members of the Supreme Court voted in favor of George W. Bush giving him the election.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Castro got the mob to make the hit which the CIA was all for cuz of the assholes Bay of Pigs stupidity.

Jay
Jay

"People who deny that Lyndon Johnson and/or military intelligence murdered John Kennedy are the moral and intellectual equivalent of Holocaust deniers." Of course....absent actual facts to buttress your premise, you resort to ad hominem attacks on those who disagree with your baseless opinion. Holocaust denier? Really? You can do better than that. Why not trot out the Hitler, Judas or Charles Manson comparisons? In fact, there are numerous enhanced quality productions of the Zapruder film showing the  JFK head shot, and which clearly show JFK's head knocked forward by the initial impact from behind, followed by his head lurching backwards when the bullet exits, taking a significant portion of his skull with it, and do notice the skull fragments moving forward. Look, two people can keep a secret as long as one of them is dead. You and other seem to believe its possible for every member of some massive CIA/shadow government conspiracy to assassinate the president in public, and yet every participant has kept it secret for almost 50 years. Not bloody likely.

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