May — Volume IV Issue 5 Insider

Mission Statement: The mission of the National Law Enforcement Museum is to tell the story of American law enforcement through exhibits, collections, research and education. The Museum dynamically engages the broadest possible audience in this story in an effort to build mutual respect and foster cooperation between the public and the law enforcement profession. By doing so, the Museum contributes to a safer society and serves to uphold the democratic ideals of the U.S. Constitution.


RSVP Witness to History

Director's Corner

Witness to History: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

On the night of June 5, 1968, presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was making his way through the crowded Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on his way to the ballroom to declare victory in the California Democratic primary.

In his acclaimed biography, Robert Kennedy: His Life, author Evan Thomas describes the scene this way:

“Kennedy's devoted bodyguard, Bill Barry, moved to clear the way. But Kennedy, with [his wife] Ethel behind, was boxed in by teenyboppers screaming, 'We want Bobby! We want Bobby!' He veered in a different direction, led by the hotel maitre d', through a back entrance into a dark corridor. Seeing his charge diverted, Barry turned and began to push his way through the crowds.

“In the passageway, members of the kitchen staff reached out to shake Kennedy's hand. Kennedy, smiling, turned around to look for Ethel. As he did, his assassin, the mentally unstable, unemployed drifter named Sirhan Sirhan, raised a snub-nosed pistol and opened fire. . . . Kennedy threw up his hands to his face, staggered, and fell backwards to the concrete floor. People ducked and screamed. Barry caught up, too late. He lunged towards the assailant. Sirhan 'was standing with the gun when I hit him,' Barry later testified.”

Roosevelt Grier, the former lineman of the Los Angeles Rams who was assisting with crowd control and the protection of  the candidate, grabbed Sirhan in a stranglehold until the first police officer, Arthur Placencia, arrived and made the arrest.

To commemorate the 44th anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s death, the National Law Enforcement Museum will present the next event in the Witness to History speaker’s series, Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, featuring both Placencia and Thomas discussing this tragic event and its effect on the nation’s history, including the extension of Secret Service protection to presidential candidates. 

Who: Panel will include both retired Los Angeles (CA) Police Department officer Arthur Placencia and author Evan Thomas.
When: June 5, 2012; reception from 6:00 - 6:30 pm, program to begin at 6:30.
Where: Hotel Monaco, 700 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C., in Penn Quarter.

Admission is free. Attendance is limited to 100 guests. RSVP by close of business May 30, 2012.

The National Law Enforcement Museum's Witness to History program is presented by Target®.



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