Witness to History: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

On the night of June 5, 1968, then-presidential candidate Robert Kennedy was making his way through the crowded Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on his way to the ballroom to declare victory in the California Democratic primary. But before he could, he was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan.

To commemorate the 44th anniversary of Robert Kennedy’s death, the National Law Enforcement Museum teamed with Target® for Witness to History: Sirhan Sirhan and the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund Chairman & CEO Craig Floyd moderated the panel discussion. The panel included Arturo Placencia, LAPD (Ret.), arresting officer of Sirhan Sirhan; Evan Thomas, author of Robert Kennedy: His Life; and Steven Hughes, United States Secret Service Special Agent in charge of Dignitary Protective Service. Each speaker brought a unique perspective to the issue that captivated the audience.

Evan Thomas set the stage by describing the social, cultural and political landscape Bobby Kennedy faced in 1968. He described Kennedy as someone who was on the brink of “being great” when he was assassinated.

Officer Placencia’s vivid description of the emotions and confusion following the shooting that injured five people in addition to Kennedy brought those chaotic moments alive for the audience.  “I was a 21-year old rookie cop, only three weeks out of the academy when we got the call,” Placencia said.

The Witness to History Speaker Series focuses on significant events in law enforcement history, conveyed through the insights of those who witnessed them. Events may involve a lecture or panel discussion followed by question and answer opportunities for the audience.

The first three events focused on the 1963 shooting of then President John F. Kennedy’s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald; the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; and the 1982 Air Florida Flight 90 crash in Washington, DC. Stay tuned for more events to come.