Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Dealey Plaza: A Shabby Situation


The following letter appeared in the Dallas Morning News' Letters to the Editor on January 7:

"Visiting Texas over Christmas, I was most impressed by the warmth and spirit of the people, and I will take back to the U.K. further ammunition to counter the relentless anti-U.S. (and anti-Texan) propaganda onslaught so prevalent in the U.K. and Europe.

"There was just one incident that I found most disappointing and disturbing. When I was seeking to pay respects at the site of the JFK assassination, it was impossible to find any peace and solitude. Instead, an army of scruffy touts, who repeatedly pursued us all over the site and did not let up in their loud and aggressive marketing pressure, continuously badgered us.

"We found this a pretty shabby situation in stark contrast to other sites we visited, and particularly at a site of such national sensitivity.

Harry Laubscher, London, England"

I know Mr. Laubscher is not the only one to encounter "scruffy touts" in Dealey Plaza. Many visitors have - including myself. Years ago, I asked museum archivist Gary Mack if something couldn't be done about the behavior of these ruffians. As I recall, Mr. Mack said that because Dealey Plaza was public property little could be done to prevent a particular group of people from having access to the grounds. While the few aggressive vendors that populate Dealey Plaza have as much of a right to stroll the grounds as anyone else, there surely must be (or should be) a Dallas city ordinance that protects the rights of visitors like Mr. Laubscher who simply want to visit that National Historic Landmark and pay their respects in peace without some clown accosting them with graphic, gore photos from Kennedy's autopsy.

How about it, Dallas?

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