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Reactions to RFK Assassination (1968)


Sound | 1968

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  •  The effect on the Civil Rights Movement 
  •  Prior to Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, the United States Secret Service only provided protection for current and former presidents, his immediate family, the president-elect, and the vice president. Following the assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an executive order assigning agents to the other candidates. Congress later authorized Secret Service protection of all major presidential and vice presidential candidates. 
  •  The national debate surrounding federal gun control legislation that began with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 reached new heights in 1968 with the assassination of his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Congress ultimately passed the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 to ban the mail-order sale of handguns, rifles, and shotguns as well as prohibit certain felons, drug users, and those found mentally incompetent from buying guns. 
  •  Christian evangelist Billy Graham reflects. Graham was in Houston at the time for the Southern Baptist Convention, held in the Sam Houston Coliseum from June 4 to 7.  
  •  Graham identifies “sin in the human heart” as the cause 
  •  His opinion of capital punishment. RFK’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, was originally given the death penalty. His sentence was commuted to life in prison in 1972, when the California Supreme Court abolished the death penalty.  
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Just after midnight on June 5, 1968, 24-year-old Sirhan Sirhan fatally shot US Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy as he exited through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Sirhan fired multiple times, wounding five others besides Kennedy, before bystanders disarmed and subdued him. Kennedy died nearly 26 hours later. He had been at the hotel to address campaign supporters following his win in the California primary election. In this news segment for Houston’s KPRC-TV, an unidentified reporter asks individuals in Houston about effects of the assassination. One interviewee discusses how the incident might discourage others from seeking public office while another laments the possible ramifications to the ongoing struggle for racial equity. Later, Christian evangelist Billy Graham addresses the assassination during a press conference.