Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Al Franken Gets It Wrong

from grannyhelen

I listened with great dismay today at the author of the book, "Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell", uncritically interviewing Rev. Samuel "Billy" Kyles on the assassiation of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Why? Rev. Kyles has consistently told stories of Dr. King's assassination that are not back up by objective fact, including police surveillance taken before and during the assassination of Dr. King.


Audio of Franken's interview with Kyles is in the external link above. And yes, you can see my entry in his blog after unsuccessfully trying to email him.


The following is an excerpt of my attempted email to him on the subject of Rev. Kyles.


...What really made me very sad today was your allowing Rev. Kyles to recount his fallacious account of "spending Dr. King's last hours with him" and the tale of the three preachers, King, Kyles and Abernathy. Not only is this part of Kyles' account disputed by Ralph David Abernathy in his autobiography, it is also contradicted by police surveillance as reported in the King v Jowers trial.


Indeed, there was compelling testimony in King v Jowers that Rev. Kyles may have had some limited involvement in Dr. King's assassination. The following is an excerpt from the testimony of Captain Willie B. Richmond (retired) of the Memphis Police Department (which has also been verified by Dr. Philip Melanson earlier in the trial - http://www.thekingcenter.org/news/trial.html):


Q. (MR. PEPPER) Now, when Dr. King arrived in the city for that last visit, were you at the airport?


A. (CAPT RICHMOND) I was.


Q. Did you have a conversation with anyone connected with either his group or with the local clergy having to do with security or protection for him on that last visit?


A. I didn't, but my partner did.


Q. Your partner did. Were you present when that conversation was taking place?


A. I was there.


Q. And with whom was the conversation?


A. I believe he spoke with Reverend Kyles.


Q. Reverend Samuel Kyles?


A. Right.


Q. And what was the gist of the conversation with respect to security protection for Dr. King?


A. At that time we was told that Dr. King hadn't wanted any police protection.


Q. You were told that Dr. King didn't want any protection.


A. Police protection.


Q. Any police protection. And this was told to you in this conversation by Reverend Kyles?


A. I think it was Reverend Kyles. I'm not sure, but I believe it was Reverend Kyles. He was the one that said it I believe.


Q. He was the one who said it you believe?


A. Uh-huh.


Q. Were you familiar with what position Reverend Kyles held in Dr. King's organization?


A. No, I was not.


Q. And you didn't know he held no position in Dr. King's organization?


A. I did not.


Q. If you'll move on to page 3 of your statement, Captain Richmond, about two-thirds of the way down the page, do you notice your note? And I'll read it. "At 2:05 p.m. Reverend Samuel Kyles arrived and went to room 307 and departed at 2:23 p.m." You see that note?


A. Yes.


Q. Do you know who was in room 307 at that time?


A. Well, at that time, no, I did not.


Q. Let's move on to page 4, please.


A. (Witness complies.)


Q. The first full paragraph. Would you read the first full paragraph starting at "at approximately 5:50 p.m." to us, please?


A. Okay. It says, "Approximately 5:50 p.m., John Smith, Milton Max, Charles Cabbage and one female colored and approximately six or seven more of the Invaders [NOTE: this was a group of young people who had volunteered to provide security for Dr. King] opened the door of their rooms, and I could see them gathering their belongings. They then brought them down the stairs and placed them in the trunk of a light blue Mustang, license number BL 3750, and they left the motel. They was going west on Butler to Main."


Q. If I could just interrupt you there. So at 5:50 p.m., your eye witness recording sees the Invaders just bustling out of--hustling out of that motel, leaving the hotel?


A. They left.


Q. And that's within 11 minutes of the shooting?


A. Approximately.


Q. Would you continue reading the next paragraph, please?


A. "Immediately after the Invaders left, the Reverend Samuel Kyles came out of room 312 and went to the room where Martin Luther King was living. He knocked on the door and Martin Luther King came to the door. They said a few words between each other and Reverend Martin Luther King went back into his room closing the door behind him, and the Reverend Samuel Kyles remained on the porch."


Q. Right. So you're telling us there from your eye witness report that Reverend Kyles knocked on Martin Luther King's door at about ten minutes to six or shortly after ten minutes to six, said a few words to Dr. King after he opened the door. Then when the door was closed, Dr. King went back into his room and Reverend Kyles remained on the--you call it the porch, but on the balcony?


A. The balcony. [NOTE: for those of you who haven't been to the Lorraine Motel, this is one of those long, continuous second story "balconies" that graced motels of the period from the 1950's and 1960's]


Q. Now, a little further down in the next paragraph, you record Martin Luther King coming out onto the balcony. Do you see that reference there? And if you could read from the words "at this time the Reverend Martin Luther King returned." Do you see that?


A. I see it.


Q. Would you read that note, please? Middle of the next paragraph.


A. Okay. "At this time Reverend Martin Luther King returned from his room to the gallery and walked up to the handrail. The Reverend Kyles was standing off to his right. This was approximately 6 p.m. At this time I heard a loud sound as if it was a shot and saw Doctor Martin Luther King fall back on the handrail and put his hand up to his head.


At 6:01 p.m., April 4th, 1968, I reported this to the inspection bureau. I returned to remain there and keep surveillance. Also, here now and at the time I heard the shot, the men of the tact squad which consists of the sheriff deputy and the Memphis police department was in the fire house number four. I immediately hollered to them I believe that King has been shot.


At this time the men of the tact squad scramble out of the fire house immediately going in all different directions. Some went to the hotel. Some went down the street. Later, the fire department ambulance arrived approximately five minutes later and departed to the hospital with Reverend King."


Q. That's fine, you can stop there. These were your recollections at the time contemporaneously as you observed what was going on at the Lorraine; is that right?


A. Correct.


Q. Nowhere in these notes do you record Reverend Kyles going into Reverend King's room 45 minutes, an hour before the shooting, do you? [NOTE: Rev. Kyles has always claimed - as he did in Franken's show today - that he was in Dr. King's room with Ralph David Abernathy and Dr. King for Dr. King's "last hour on earth" before he was assassinated". This testimony puts Rev. Kyles' account of his whereabouts before the assassination in question].


A. No, I don't.


Q. And if he had done so, is it fair to say that you would have recorded this entry?


A. I recorded pretty much everything that went on. I don't have my notebook now, but we carried little small notebooks.


Q. Right.


A. And I wrote everything down as I saw it.


Q. As you saw it?


A. As I saw it.


Q. That was your duty.


A. Correct.


But really, the most shocking evidence of Rev. Kyles' involvement in the MLK assassination comes from his own mouth, on video, discussing an anniversary celebration of the assassination of Dr. King:


"...but that gave me the wonderful privilege of spending the last hour on earth. Three preachers in a room--Abernathy, King and Kyles. And we spent that last hour together in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel.


The press is always curious and writers--what went on? What did you talk about? I say, we just talked preacher talk. What preachers talk about when they get together, revivals and all the like. About a quarter of six we walked on the balcony, and he was talking to people in the courtyard.


He stood here, and I stood there. Only as I moved away so he could have a clear shot, the shot rang out."


Rev. Kyles has never really explained this comment. You can follow the above referenced link to read his entire testimony: indeed, I encourage you to do so. It is very enlightening.


I respect your personal integrity and the efforts you have made in your show to always try to tell the truth. That's part of the reason I was so outraged when I listened to Rev. Kyles tell you the fictional account of Dr. King's assassination that I am too familiar with. I was also dismayed to see that your show consisted only of Director Beverly Robertson, Benjamin Hooks and Rev. Kyles...


In the interest of fairness and balance, I would like to encourage you to reach out to Dr. William Pepper, who has spent a lifetime investigating - and successfully litigating - the conspiracy to assassinate Dr. King. He can also speak to the current exhibits at the National Civil Rights Museum, as well as go over the Department of Justice report that was issued in response to the King v. Jowers trial verdict. Unlike me, Dr. Pepper does speak for the King family in matters pertaining to the assassination of Dr. King.


Thank you for continuing to fight the good fight in all things.


Kind regards,


[omitted]


Whenever I get this frustrated about the media - mainstream or otherwise - not getting the facts right about the assassination of Dr. King, I have to remind myself of his famous quote, "...the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."


Justice delayed may indeed be justice denied, but I know in my heart that eventually the truth of the assassination of Dr. King will become a part of the American story.

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