Robert F. Kennedy murder witness recounts fateful night
By LA Stories Staff Los Angeles
PUBLISHED 5:00 AM PT Apr. 25, 2022
In the 1950s and ’60s, Paul Schrade was the director of the United Auto Workers in California, advocating for worker’s rights.
Known for his community organizing, Schrade successfully helped lead the anti-war movement and worked closely with the farmworkers union. He served as an aide in Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s bid for the presidential nomination, joining Kennedy on the campaign trail and introducing him to the many workers unions on the west coast.
“We had his commitment to the farm workers union and to people in Watts and East LA, because Bob was involved in community organizing in those areas,” Schrade said. “It was just my whole agenda was being promoted at that point.”
In June 1968, Kennedy was assassinated while delivering a campaign speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Sirhan Sirhan was arrested and charged with his murder.
As one of the last living witnesses to the assassination, Schrade says the death of Kennedy not only changed his life forever, but it changed the course of American history.
Schrade was shot by Sirhan that very same night Kennedy was murdered, and yet Schrade has stunned many by advocating for the release of Sirhan, convinced there was a second gunman who is responsible for the senator’s death. He has spent countless hours gathering evidence that he claims proves Sirhan did not fire the shot that killed Kennedy.
To the disappointment of Schrade, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently denied parole to Sirhan.
“I think it was a terrible decision on the governor’s part,” he said. “Sirhan deserved parole even though he did commit crimes that night. He did not shoot Robert Kennedy and should have been released long ago.”
Now in his 90s, Schrade is still dedicated to honoring the legacy of Kennedy today. He helped secure the funding to build the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown, where the Ambassador Hotel once stood. The library of the school, named the Paul Schrade Library, holds a mural depicting Kennedy’s fight for civil rights.
“I love the school,” Schrade said. “This is a wonderful addition to the neighborhood. It truly serves a good purpose and a purpose that Robert Kennedy would have supported, because he thought education, good food, housing was demanded. He demanded it for kids and poor families. That was his legacy.”