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Hundreds attend, applaud King Plaza dedication

Original post made on Jan 21, 2008

With rousing speeches from top Martin Luther King, Jr. associates, spirited hymns and a diverse crowd several hundred strong, the City of Palo Alto Monday dedicated the plaza in front of City Hall in honor of civil rights leader King and his wife, Coretta Scott King. Photos by Norbert von der Groeben/Palo Alto Online.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 21, 2008, 5:11 PM

Comments (16)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2008 at 4:23 pm

And remind us again, how much did this plaque cost the Palo Alto taxpayer?

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm

$10,000 - probably with interest

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Posted by Carol Brouillet
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 21, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Carol Brouillet is a registered user.

I was late to the ceremony, so perhaps I missed some of the opening remarks, but after the ceremony when I spoke with a kind gentleman who pointed out Martin Luther King Jr.'s attorney who's keynote I missed.

I mentioned William Pepper to him and the book, An Act of State: The Execution of Martin Luther King which presents the fruits of Pepper's research and investigation into the death of his friend, on behalf of the King family, which culminated in a very successful trial by jury in Memphis, Tennessee. The trial and verdict were never reported by the mainstream press. The government was charged and convicted for their role in the assasination.

Pepper was Martin Luther King's friend, and his work (his journalistic efforts in South Vietnam) prompted King to take an (unpopular) stance on the Vietnam War. The omission of the true cause of King's death is a national disgrace. An Act of State should be required reading in schools to remedy the myth making white-washing of King's most important words and work. I have the greatest respect for Martin Luther King Jr., his courage, clarity and vision.

I also have great respect for William Pepper, who has been involved in the struggle for truth, peace and justice for a long time, and has much wisdom to offer those who continue on the path. William Pepper has spoken out, and joined the 9/11 Truth Movement in our quest for a real investigation of 9/11.

He penned this article for today.

"The New York City Ballot Initiative and the
Re-investigation of 9/11 By an Independent Citizens Commission"

By William F. Pepper

Many, deeply concerned citizens of this Republic and the world have been engaged in tireless, multifaceted research and investigation about the events surrounding the 9/11 tragedy. These patriots have produced articles, essays, books and films which seek to answer the multitude of unanswered questions about this atrocity. Not having researched these questions myself and having no answers, when I have appeared before them I have encouraged the continuation of their valuable work as citizens of the Republic. I have also advised these patriots to be wary of disinformation and provocative irrationality in their midst.

In their numbers are distinguished scientists, engineers, architects, professional people from all walks of life and families of victims who seek closure. Amongst the latter are the colloquially named “Jersey Girls” (Lorie, Mindy, Patty and Monica) for whose courage, determination, intelligence and steadfastness, I have boundless admiration. They propounded 125 questions to the Kean/Hamilton Commission; one was answered. In fact, it was largely as a result of their efforts and those of other victims’ families that a Commission was established in the first place over the initial opposition of the Bush administration.

The failure of that Commission to seek, even address the critical questions is now a part of contemporary history. Former Georgia Senator, Max Cleland, resigned early on in disgust citing official obstruction. More recently, Co-Chairmen, Kean and Hamilton, have themselves declared their awareness that their work was obstructed and denied valuable information, materials and evidence. Consequently, there is overwhelming agreement that the initial government sponsored investigation was a failure in respect of bringing truth about 9/11 to the light of day.

Left alone, all of the incisive, powerful representations and analysis produced by our researching brothers and sisters will be cast into the dust bin of history. The official story will prevail to be learned by succeeding generations of the world’s people.

Put forward under oath before a formally constituted citizens’ Commission –independent of government – their work and conclusions will be tested confirmed or rejected and, at last the truth may emerge.

That is why a group of citizens in the City of New York, aided, supported and encouraged by citizens throughout the United States and the world (remember 80 nations lost citizens in that attack) have come together to mount an effort to put a Referendum question on the ballot in 2008 for the consideration of the voters of New York City, seeking their approval for the establishment of a new, independent Commission to investigate all aspects of 9/11. This Commission will consist of Commissioners who are prestigious individuals, not only from New York City and the United States, but the world.

They will convene with a commitment to go where the facts they accept lead, and they will have subpoena power to compel testimony under oath and full investigative and legal support staff.

I suggest that this will be the death knell for any deceit, disinformation and cover-up, and I encourage all citizens, everywhere, to support the establishment of this Commission and its work.

I note that I have been requested to write this message for publication on the formal Holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In my youth, he became a friend and colleague, those many years ago. I have since spent many years seeking the truth about his assassination; even legally representing the man convicted of killing him who both the family and I knew was innocent and the victim of being set up by the government.

Without doubt, Martin King would be in despair over what has transpired in his beloved native land. I also have no doubt that he would enthusiastically support this quest for truth about the atrocity that has shaken and drastically changed our world. He would remind us that truth crushed to earth will rise again and that we should never continue to mourn into passivity the loss of liberty and our loved ones –but organize.

I call on human beings within sight and sound of this message to rally behind this effort for a new investigation by an independent Citizens Commission and, in your thousands, to support it with massive numbers of volunteer workers as well as monetary contributions.

The website of the 9/11 Ballot Initiative is The NYC coordinator of volunteers is Les Jamieson. You are needed. We are in this disaster together and together our movement must prevail.

A patriarch in my Irish/Scots family established for us the credo — non nobis solum nati sumas - We exist not for ourselves alone. It has informed my life, and in that speck of historical time, no event has so traumatized and challenged the people and the Republic I love as that which occurred on September 11, 2001.

So, then, together, let us join our brothers and sisters in New York City and from the very belly of the beast, seek truth and justice.

W.F. Pepper

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

I admire Martin Luther King. He fought a very tough battle against predjudice. I was inspired by his speaches. He was a bit of a spent force, among radicals (black and white) by the time he was shot, yet he kept on doing it his way.

King admired Ghandi, a highly flawed individual, who suggested that victims of Hitler should just quitely accept their fate. In this, King was off the mark. Non-violence is NOT an answer to conflicts that are composed of major violence by dictators. Perhaps this explains why King was so off the ethical mark in his capitulation to Ho Chi Minh and Mao and the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, King drove a movement that was overdue.

I don't think that the $10K cost of the plaque to rename City Hall Plaza to King Plaza is a real issue. However, I do think we should spend another $10K to rename City Hall to Reagan Tower. Reagan freed millions of slaves, while King just tried to give some sense of justice to those who were already freed by Lincoln.

BTW, Robert Olmstead, who spoke at the ceremony, was a supporter of the liberation of Iraq from Saddam. Unless he has changed his mind (I doubt it), he understands that liberation from evil is a global issue.

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Posted by GSB
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

I came for the ceremony today, and I was moved by the statements made by Mr. Jones and Rev. Olmstead. Palo Alto, as a whole, shouldn't be upset or caught up in the costs of renaming the plaza. A great statement about Palo Alto was made today.

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Posted by GSB
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2008 at 5:14 pm

However, I was disturbed by those who came to push their own agendas. From the guy holding up the Ron Paul sign, to Aram James pushing his anti-Taser agenda, it just wasn't the appropriate time for it.

Yes, I know: Freedom of Speech.

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Posted by Lou
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 21, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Aram James? Why was he there? I've heard that guy in using the right of free speech to insinuate the most awful kinds of bias and slander against people he simply didn't like, or disagreed with. Sad.

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Posted by Citizen with Child
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2008 at 2:07 am

I walked up to Aram James with my little girl and we both told him to go home and stop ruining the council meetings. He put his leaflets together, took his sign and left. Good riddance.

This was a great occasion and celebration, and people are getting tired of him and his "group" ruining so many great council meetings, and other functions around here.

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Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2008 at 7:34 am

Remember what Chris Rock said, "Only the bad parts of town are name after MLK. So, if you ever find your self on or near MKL, don't walk- RUN!!"

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Posted by sundown
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jan 22, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Given that at least part of Palo Alto has a history of forcibly excluding black residents (see Web Link ) it probably be a better measure of MLK's legacy to document exactly what happened, and make a point of publicly repudiating the past actions of part of our community.

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Posted by Restorative.Justice.For.All
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 23, 2008 at 6:24 am

I have coffee just about every morning with Perry Myrick. Mr. Myrick has related to me on more than one occasion that he's been the victim of racial profiling by Chiefs Johnsons team so many times he's lost tract! I'm not so convinced Mr. Myrick will ever find "peace" while Chief Johnson is still in office.

As for the negative comments concerning Aram James, their probably agents sent by the Chief Johnson. Mr. Myrick I would not recomend bring forth any complaint to the (IPA) Independence Police Auditors’. There the Chiefs right and left hands.

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Posted by Marianne Mueller
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 23, 2008 at 11:16 am

It was a truly moving ceremony, and the addresses
by all the various speakers were incredible. The
two choirs were wonderful; there's nothing like watching
and hearing young people sing. I hope someone will
type up the transcripts of the addresses, so that people
who couldn't be there will be able to read what Clarence
B. Jones and Rev. Olmstead and all the others said.
It was a great day in Palo Alto history and I am glad
I got to be there. My sincere thanks to the people
who had the idea to name the plaza the King Plaza, and
for their perseverance. Civil rights isn't about
something that happened in the 60s or "over there in
the southeast". It is definitely an ongoing struggle
and one worth paying attention to and one worth
being part of. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and
Coretta Scott King's work and words are relevant for
us in Palo Alto, both today and in the past, and I
believe going forward into our future. Things like
this - commemorating our civic plaza - do matter, a lot.


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Posted by Frustrated Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 23, 2008 at 4:57 pm

Vote NO for any more money passing into the hands of those in control of Palo Alto. $10,000 for a plaque to rename City Hall Plaza to King Plaza!!! Obnoxious use of city funds. I am truly tired of having to fund these types of social engineering projects. It is not an issue the city should be involved in and certainly not an issue that the city should be funding.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2008 at 5:43 pm

I am getting really worried as to what some people think racism is.

From today's weekly, I am always concerned when someone comes behind me in an atm line and would hold tighter to my purse or hide my PIN. It has nothing to do with color, I would do it for anyone, male or female, young or old, regardless of color. If someone is safety conscious they are safety conscious. What should they do? Deliberately not hold on tight to their belongings.

If someone thinks that we only have to worry about a certain demographic group when it comes to feeling safe then they have a chip on their shoulder. I am safety conscious with everyone I don't know. I feel sure that the person to whom the interviewee was speaking of was just as cautious with everyone who joined the line.

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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 27, 2008 at 12:13 am

You are so right, Marianne.
And more power to you for speaking up so eloquently and under your full name.

It was a marvelous event, and Becky Trout accurately captured its content and spirit.

The only reporting glitch I noted - and minor - was the reference in the opening sentence to speeches from "top Martin Luther King, Jr. associates." The only top associate I was aware of was Clarence Jones. But for those of us who cherish a direct connection to history, reflections on the event will be well sated.

LaDoris Cordell introduced the main speaker briefly as Dr. King's attorney. Jones then spoke directly to the power of King's vision and the extent of his achievements. He also magnanimously praised Rev. Olmstead and other non-African Americans of conscience who responded to The Call. And finally - and to my surprise - he applauded us, the attendees, as honoring ourselves by honoring the Kings.

He did not speak of himself, or of his own significant role in civil rights history as King's close and long-time confident, draft speechwriter, and lawyer.

This would include his part in the landmark freedom-of-expression case "The New York Times v. Sullivan," oft cited during oral communications at our council meetings.

The Sullivan case stems from a suit in 1960 by Montgomery, Alabama Police Commissioner L. B. Sullivan, charging liable in a fund-raising advertisement on behalf of Dr. King published in "The Times." The path to the Supreme Court took several years, but the high court's verdict eliminated the potential of such frivolous, destructive, and censoring lawsuits; opened the doors for more complete reporting of the civil rights movement; and stands today as one of the key decisions supporting freedom of speech and the press.

But there is also something powerfully instructive in the way King exercised his right of free expression.

In the packed council chambers just prior to the unveiling of the commemorative plaque outside, we heard a stirring audio excerpt from a speech by Dr. King made at Stanford's Memorial Auditorium in April, 1967. It is King's response to the notion "that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice ... that there is something in the very flow of time that will miraculously cure all evils."

His response included these words, inscribed on the plaque in the newly dedicated plaza:

"Somewhere we must come to see that social progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals; and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time. We must realize that the time is always right to do right."

King's speech that night in April 1967 was filmed by Allen Willis and thanks to Stanford’s Aurora Forum, the film was shown last April, in the very same Memorial Auditorium, as part of a most special 40-year commemoration of that event. You can view it all on the web at Web Link .

On that day last year, the attendees saw and heard Dr. King from among the same seats occupied by the large, predominantly-student audience of 40 years ago.

Again, it is mid-April 1967 and a difficult time for King and the civil rights movement:

- Ten days have passed since King's famous speech at Riverside Church in New York opposing the Vietnam War, and he has been largely condemned in the press not only for his views, but also for arrogance and self-defeating efforts in stepping outside of civil rights and into foreign affairs.

- The war has sapped funding for poverty programs.

- The triumphs of Selma and Birmingham have receded, and the legislation they spawned has not been enforced.

- A routine traffic stop has gone terribly wrong in Watts widening the waiting doorway for increased backlash.

- Events in Chicago have destroyed the myth of northern superiority amidst vicious hatred toward marchers questioning why realtors would not sell to blacks.

- And the FBI director, who never afforded King protection, continues to bug and wiretap him at every location possible in a single-minded effort to destroy him. And King knows this.

Dr. King steps to the podium, briefly consults a sheet of paper drawn from his breast pocket during the ovation and begins to address students of privilege about "The Other America,” the America of poverty, unemployment, substandard housing, and despair.

He seems tired; his cadence is slow.
But remarkably there is no sign of anger or bitterness.
Without looking down, he creates beautifully crafted and meaningful phrase after phrase, sentence after sentence, for 45 minutes.

At conclusion the audience stands in loud applause.
King remains at the podium for a moment. He then leaves to take the red eye and speak the next day at the head of hundreds of thousands marching to the UN.

There are many reasons I can surmise for the tremendous impact and monumental achievements of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. They include his heritage as the son and grandson of preachers; his education in theology; the influential disciples of non-violence who preceded and influenced him; his partnership with Coretta Scott; fortuitous historical circumstance; his vision, courage, and persistence; and the untold thousands who worked for social justice in America before, during, and after The King Years.

But when I walk through King Plaza and pass his words on the plaque, I will especially be reminded of his grace under fire.

-Fred Balin

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Posted by Let There Be Peace
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2008 at 12:19 am

I attended this joyous occasion - celebration.
Please don't ruin King Plaza.
Our police chief has apologized. Please accept her apology and forgive her.

Sunday is a day of worship for many Christians.
Please keep this Sunday peaceful and remember that forgiveness is the key.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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