City to ‘Err on the Safe Side’ for JFK Tribute

JFK-event-briefing
The scene at today’s media briefing for “The 50th” memorial to JFK. Photo by Jeanne Prejean

The folks organizing the upcoming public memorial honoring the memory of JFK seem to be awfully worried about … something. Security was tight even for this morning’s media briefing regarding ticketing procedures on the seventh floor of the 6th Floor Museum, one floor above where Lee Harvey Oswald is said to have taken the shots that killed President Kennedy 50 years ago this November. Journalists were asked to produce their credentials as well as a driver’s license to attend today’s news conference, and a couple of police officers were stationed in the back of the room.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said organizers had the normal concerns about the event—planned for November 22 in Dealey Plaza—that you’d expect in a “post-9/11” world. But he added that the elaborate ticketing process, which will include full criminal background checks on applicants by the Dallas Police Department, was not designed to keep anyone out because of their views or theories about the assassination, for example. “We want everyone, no matter what their point of view is on the situation, to be invited to sign up and get some of these tickets,” the mayor said.

To do that, though, they’ll have to pass the police vetting first. According to First Assistant Police Chief Charles Cato, the screening will flag anyone with a “history of violence or threats or extremist ties.” But, might a vocal or unruly “conspiracy theorist” be considered an extremist? we wondered. When we tried to get at that by asking the mayor what constituted extremism, he paused for a little while to collect his thoughts before answering. “We’re going to say less versus more on this. If we see anything that we think raises an alarm on this, they’re not getting tickets,” Rawlings said. “We’re going to err on the conservative, safe side.”

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