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Paul Schrade

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There is an article about the assassination in today's Guardian. It is not very good but it does include an interesting interview with Paul Schrade:


Paul Schrade was a director of the United Auto Workers union and a close associate of Robert Kennedy. Aged 43 at the time, he was one of five people other than Kennedy to be shot that night

I hadn't intended to go to the Ambassador - I never liked smoke-ridden, boozy victory parties - but I was driving home and heard on the radio we were behind and Bobby was projected to lose. I felt that if it was going to be bad news, I'd better be there to help out.

So I went to the Ambassador and up to Bobby's hotel room. When he went downstairs to make his victory speech, I stayed behind to get him the details of a supporter he wanted to thank, and then followed behind. I was on the platform with him when he made his speech, and he called me to join him as he left the stage. He should have gone off to the right to another room full of supporters, but instead turned left to talk to press reporters, passing through the pantry.

As we entered the room, he stopped to talk to some kitchen staff. Then I started shaking violently. There were a lot of TV cameras in the room and I thought I must have been electrocuted. It felt just like that - an electric shock. In fact, I was going into shock and I blacked out seconds later. When I came round, I was lying on the floor and it felt like I was being trampled on. A doctor came and said I was going to be all right.

It was only the next night or following day - I forget which - that I learned Bobby had died. And later it emerged that his last words had been, 'Is Paul OK? Is everybody all right?'

At the hospital I was told that a bullet had gone into the centre of my head, two inches above the hairline and passing through the first layer of skull. The doctor said any farther and that would have been it.

The police account of events was that the bullet went through Robert Kennedy's jacket and then into my head. I've always challenged that version as I was a few feet from Bobby, and for that account to hold true I would have had to have been right above him because the gun was pointed almost vertically.

My wounds healed over time, but I felt anger and sadness after Bobby's death. I left LA soon after the shooting and went to live in a desert area - I was just filled with anger. Here was the best candidate we ever had. It was a terrible loss to his family, and the country, and to me.

Here we are today in a parallel situation: the same rampant poverty, and yet another ugly and unnecessary war. It has been a long time since June 1968, but I'm still angry and sad, and still trying to be hopeful in our struggle for peace and social justice.

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