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At Dealey Plaza, where John F. Kennedy was cut down, history and conspiracy buffs cross paths
A Carcano Model 91/38 rifle, as it was used by Lee Harvey Oswald to kill US President John F Kennedy, is seen at a museum which formerly housed the Texas School Book Depository on October 8, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. The sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration Building now houses the Sixth Floor Museum which is dedicated to the history behind the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. November 22, 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK in Dallas's Dealey Plaza. AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI.

By: Fabienne Faur

DALLAS (AFP).- History buffs and conspiracy theorists cross paths at Dealey Plaza, the now infamous Dallas square where President John F. Kennedy was cut down by an assassin's bullet 50 years ago.

While visitors to the site take pictures of the white X marking the spot where the president was shot, bystanders try to convince them that the official account of what happened is wrong.

"Right here in Dealey Plaza, every day is November 22, 1963," tour guide Michael Scott Aston explained to a group aboard a "Big D Fun Tours" trolley.

As the 50th anniversary of the tragedy approaches, onlookers gather at Dealey Plaza to recapture the emotions of that fateful day amid honking car horns and exhaust fumes.

The 35th president of the United States died not far from a freeway ramp on the edge of downtown in the Texan city.

The nondescript cityscape that served as a backdrop all those decades ago has remained virtually unchanged to this day.

A railway overpass straddles three lanes, one of which is Elm Street which JFK's motorcade was following the fatal shots rang out.

And to the side, a wooden barrier separates a grassy area -- known as the "Grassy Knoll" -- from a red brick building.

"That is the former Texas book depository building," Aston said as he pointed his group to look at the sixth floor window.

"Right here, that's where the shots rang out," he said, pointing to the corner of the structure.

From there, three gunshots were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald, concluded an investigation by the Warren Commission.

The 24-year-old former Marine and Marxist was killed two days after JFK's assassination by Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner.

Today, the building houses The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

'Evidence' Oswald didn't act alone

Between two sets of lights that sporadically stop traffic, tourists took pictures of a white cross marking the spot of the fatal shot.

Nearby and close to the lawn, Mark Oates had set up a table covered with books. The self-proclaimed "JFK assassination researcher" -- as stated on his business card -- has been a regular here since 1986.

"They say Oswald acted alone, and we have the evidence to show he did not," he told a passerby, indicating a video running on constant repeat on a mini DVD player.

The former engineer pointed out flashes, which he said were proof that some gunshots came from elsewhere.

Steps away, 53-year-old Ron Washington, who said he has been doing research for 22 years, was also convinced of a conspiracy.

"I let them make their own decision, I just give them evidence," he said of what he tells tourists as he tried to sell a copy of a magazine by Robert Groden entitled "The case for conspiracy."

Margie Benson, an 80-year-old Dallas resident, had come to show Dealey Plaza to some guests.

The former receptionist still remembers how one of her supervisors called and said the president has been shot.

When his death was announced, she added, "everyone was in awe, we were silent, in grief."

Graffiti abounds on the wooden barrier at the site, ranging from "RIP JFK" to "Oswald acted alone BS" and "Conspiracy, we know the truth."

Along the route taken by JFK's motorcade, there are thousands of small posters -- painted by students and artists, among others -- focused on love.

Kennedy's murder "is a horrendous tragic wound to our city and the whole Earth," said artist Karen Blessen, initiator of the "Love Project."

"These efforts are part of our deep need to process this tragedy" that led to Dallas being called the "city of hate," she said.

John Templin, a 51-year-old visitor from Troy, Ohio, said he was named after JFK, the first and only Roman Catholic in the White House.



© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse



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