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The Assassination Of Martin Luther King

2073 words - 8 pages

Convicted for armed robbery in 1960, James Earl Ray escaped from Missouri State Penitentiary on April 22, 1967. Ray’s hatred for the black population and support for Nazism fueled his drive to assassinate pacifistic leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. During the civil rights era, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s strong political and religious presence caused him to be a potential target as many denounced his promotion of equality amongst blacks and whites in America. Moreover, with the use of a Remington rifle, Ray shot King from a bathroom window of a hotel located across the street from the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had a perfect view of King standing on the motel room balcony. On the eve of April 4, 1968, King was pronounced dead. Afterwards, Ray fled to Canada where he changed his identify and created a fake passport which would later be used to flee to Brussels, Belgium from a Scottish airport. However, Ray was caught at Heathrow Airport on June 8, 1968 and was deported back to America. James Earl Ray was convicted in March 1969 for the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. In court, Ray voluntarily pleaded guilty before Judge W. Preston Battle which reduced his sentence to 99 years in prison instead of the death penalty . As will become evident, the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. resulted in the immediate outburst of riots, Robert Kennedy eulogizing King, the high attendance of King’s funeral service, and the implementation of the Fair Housing Act; the prosecution of James Earl Ray; and in the longer term, the creation of Martin Luther King National Holiday as well as the desire to reopen the case of James Earl Ray in 1997.

In the immediate proceedings of Martin Luther King assassination, violent riots erupted in the streets of America, Robert Kennedy gave a heartfelt speech eulogizing King, numerous individuals attended King’s funeral service and The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was implemented by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Over 100 American cities encountered violent disturbances immediately after King’s death. Within 24 hours, the assassination of King produced enraged “reactions in black communities throughout the country, and it was scarcely unexpected that one of the most violent [riots] would be manifested in Chicago, given its large black community and the uneasy race relations that were endemic to the city”. Although the South Side of Chicago has a large concentration of African Americans, the riots in that area were quickly restrained; “whereas the much smaller Second Ghetto of the West Side went up in flames” . After King’s death was announced, the riots of Chicago were first experienced in the South Side where there were arson attempts, windows of multiple residential streets broken, and damages reported for many shops. Many residing in Chicago’s ghettos threw Molotov bombs and matches into previously looted stores; and many grabbed bricks, knives and guns. On the morning of April 5, 1968,...

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