The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., left, and Malcolm X smile for photographers in Washington on March 26, 1964. (Henry Griffin/AP) (HENRY GRIFFIN)

January 25 at 7:00 AM

Joined by relatives of Robert F. Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, a group of more than 60 authors and investigators have called for a new congressional investigation into the assassinations of the three men and President John F. Kennedy, saying that the four slayings were not resolved and “had a disastrous impact on the course of American history.”

In a public statement, they demanded a public tribunal modeled on South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” process to persuade either Congress or the Justice Department to revisit all four assassinations.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and former Maryland lieutenant governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D), two of Robert Kennedy’s children, signed the statement, as did Isaac N. Farris, a nephew of King and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., a Memphis pastor and mentor to King. It is also supported by G. Robert Blakey, the chief counsel of the former House Select Committee on Assassinations; Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Robert McClelland, the doctor who worked on President Kennedy after his 1963 shooting in Dallas; and entertainment figures such as Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Oliver Stone and Rob Reiner. The statement was issued Saturday, during the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

The 1960s assassinations have spawned conspiracy theories and claims of governmental misconduct for decades. In each case, local police, federal investigators and state and local judges have reaffirmed the findings that lone gunmen killed both Kennedys and King, and that the three men convicted of murder killed Malcolm X. But those official conclusions have left many unsatisfied.

“The one thing you can say,” Robert Kennedy Jr. said in a recent interview, “Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the shots that killed my father.”

The son of the former senator revealed to The Washington Post last year that he had visited Sirhan in prison in December 2017 and came away convinced of Sirhan’s innocence. He has continued to research possible alternative theories into the June 1968 slaying of his father in Los Angeles. He and others have noted that his father was shot at point-blank range in the back of the head but that Sirhan was in front of Kennedy and was tackled before ever getting his gun close to Kennedy.

Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) shakes hands with people in a crowd while campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in Philadelphia, two months before his assassination. (Warren Winterbottom/AP)

Sirhan was convicted of first-degree murder at trial in 1969, and a jury sentenced him to death, although the sentence was later commuted to life. He remains in prison in California, and the state and federal courts have rejected all appeals, saying the jury could have been persuaded by the evidence that Sirhan was close enough to kill Robert Kennedy.

Blakey, whose high-profile investigation of the King and John Kennedy assassinations in 1979 determined that Kennedy was the likely victim of a conspiracy, said he remains deeply interested in the role of the CIA in the JFK case. In fact, he has a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit pending against the agency. He said that the FBI had fully cooperated with his investigations, particularly into the King assassination in Memphis in April 1968 but that the CIA has refused to open all its files to this day.

“All I’d like to do is see the stuff the agency has on [John] Kennedy,” Blakey said Wednesday. “That’s all I want.”

Blakey said numerous credible witnesses told the Warren Commission and his House committee that shots were fired both from in front of and behind President Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963.