Many of us grew up experiencing or hearing about the assassinations of:
U.S. President John F. Kennedy (Nov. 1963 in Dallas, Texas)
Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader (April, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee)
Robert F. Kennedy, former U.S. Senator from New York, and U.S. Attorney General (June, 1968 in Los Angeles, Calif.)
Congressman Leo Ryan of CD 11 California (November, 1978 in Guyana); his aide Jackie Spier was also shot in that incident but recovered.
Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, San Francisco Supervisor (also in November, 1978 in San Francisco, Calif.)
These were undoubtedly political attacks, based on the public figure’s stature and political beliefs.
So also was the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in May, 1981 in Washington, D.C., where his White House press secretary James Brady was shot in the head & permanently disabled. President Reagan was also shot but recovered.
And now a Congressional aide to CD 8 Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has been shot & killed in the line of his U.S. House duties. Gabe Zimmerman was her Director of community outreach in her District office in Tucson, and was only 30 years old when he was killed on January 8, 2011.
And his employer Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot as well, and is in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at University Medical Center, following brain surgery. Police are saying that the shooter was targeting Giffords, as she was the first one shot, and a federal complaint has been filed against Jared Lee Loughner for attempted murder of a Member of Congress.
My heart goes out to Gabe’s family, as I used to be a legislative aide on Capitol Hill to a politician– U.S. Senator Dan Inouye (D-HI) who is still serving in the U.S. Senate. None of these Congressional leaders have security around them, though some may hire a “bodyguard” or a strong male aide, who accompanies them to events.
But no aide wants to think that they will be killed serving their Senator or Congressmember.
I just read an interesting article about Congressional staffers and this tragedy:
http://dailycaller.com/2011/01/09/remember-congresswoman-giffordss-staff/. “They believe in their boss. They believe in the institution of Congress. And they believe that they are making a difference.”
My 25 year old son asked me yesterday after the horrific Tucson shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and 3 of her aides, how this act of senseless violence will affect the future of town halls and political events.
Time will tell, but it certainly will have a “chilling effect” on the openness of these political events in the future of America. Sadly enough, Congresswoman Giffords is open and friendly, and this may have been her last “Congress on Your Corner” constituent event.
Pray for Congresswoman Giffords’ full recovery. She was working for her constituents in CD 8 at the time of the shooting, and didn’t deserve to be shot outside of the Safeway food store on Oracle/Ina Road here in Tucson. And neither did her three aides who were also shot, especially Gabe Zimmerman, who did make a difference in constituent services. After all, Giffords was re-elected twice.
How do we stop this senseless violence against public figures (and their aides)?