Minnesota remembers: 50 years after the JFK assassination


On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Pres. John F. Kennedy, newspapers, TV stations and other news outlets around the state are looking at Minnesota connections to the tumultuous event, right down to a reprint of the shocking headlines from the archives of the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

The JFK Assassination: As It Happened website carries a collection of radio and television reports from the day, including bulletins and updates heard on WCCO Radio.

With more than 1,000 books written about the assassination and the conspiracy theories that sprang up in its aftermath, the Pioneer Press went to U.S. District Judge John Tunheim. The Minnesota judge chaired the five-person U.S. Assassination Records Review Board, created by Congress to declassify records from 2004 to 2008. The panel released about 5 million pages of documents, including records about the events in Dallas, Oswald, and the reactions of government agencies to the assassination.

"I think the only hard evidence – in this case, the only evidence that's admissible in court – points all of its fingers toward Oswald," Tunheim told the paper.

KSTP covered a recent speech by Tunheim at the Washington County Historical Society, where he discussed his work on the board. He walked the crowd through the evidence and showed the famous Zapruder film. Tunheim said the initial shoddy investigation and other missteps left plenty of room for conspiracy theories.

Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura insists crucial documents that might shed insight into a conspiracy are still being hidden. The Star Tribune reminded readers about the theories he holds.

“When it comes to conspiracies it’s the granddaddy of them all,” Ventura said on “Conspiracy Theory,” his national TV show. “If you can get away with killing a president, you can get away with anything.”

In September, a blog post on TruTV included an excerpt of his book, "They Killed Our President: 63 Facts that Prove a Conspiracy to Kill JFK." Ventura says 80 percent of the American people don't believe theWarren Commission’s conclusion that President Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman. He recalls that in his first year as governor, "...I caused a pretty big stir when I told an interviewer from Playboy that I did not believe the official conclusion on Oswald. I think I may have been the highest ranking official who ever said that, at least publicly."

The Star Tribune had the story of "the closest person to the assassination who is still alive," Secret Service agent Clint Hill. The North Dakota native was part of Jacqueline Kennedy's security detail in the motorcade on that fateful day in Dallas. It said that "...those horrific moments in Dallas haunted Hill for decades. He struggled with alcohol and depression." He blamed himself that he did not stop the shot that took Kennedy's life."

At a symposium earlier this month at Bismarck State College he said, “I think about it every day…It never goes away.”

Now 81, Hill is touring to promote his book "Mrs. Kennedy and Me," which came out last year. A second book, “Five Days in November” is about to be released.

Hill believes that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. He told the newspaper, “There were only three shots that were fired on Nov. 22, 1963. Only three. They all came from the same location: The sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. They were all fired from the same rifle."

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