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Assassination of George Wallace

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Although he did not expect to win when he ran for the presidency, Alabama Governor George Wallace ran in 1972 to ‘send a message’ to Washington. To everyone’s surprise, Wallace had strong showings in state primaries, which were surprising for a candidate who only a decade earlier had vowed “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!” (at his gubernatorial inauguration, no less).

George Wallace had since renounced those views, but he was paranoid that he will be assassinated. He told the Detroit News. “Somebody’s going to get me one of these days,” he told “I can just see a little guy out there that nobody’s paying any attention to. He reaches into his pocket and out comes the little gun, like that Sirhan guy that got Kennedy.” Wallace stood behind an 800-pound bulletproof podium each time he delivered his stump ‘law and order’ speech.

On May 15, 1972, Wallace stood out from his podium, took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves to shake hands with people at a shopping center in Laurel, Maryland. He usually wore a bulletproof vest but that day was too hot for Wallace to wear it. Arthur Bremer, stepped out from the crowd, and fired five times. All bullets hit Wallace. Bremer was immediately arrested. Wallace’s reputation meant than many people would have expected his shooter to be black, but Bremer was a blonde 21-year old Caucasian. Bremer, according to his infamously demented diary, wanted to kill either Nixon or Wallace, not for political purposes, but to assert his virility.

Wallace survived the assassination attempt but would be paralyzed from the waist down for the rest of his life, his presidential ambitions forever eclipsed by a hostile press that preyed on his crippled ‘haplessness’. Bremer was sentenced to 53 years in prison. His diary would go on to inspire the 1976 movie Taxi Driver which in turn inspired the assassination attempt on Reagan by John Hinckley, Jr.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

May 27, 2010 at 6:52 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Love the blog, but I have to pick a nit.

    You have titled this post “Assassination of George Wallace,” but it’s only an assassination if the object winds up dead.

    Foaming Solvent

    May 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

  2. I’m pretty much sure the name “Bremer” is not very common in the Caucasus region.


    August 31, 2010 at 10:09 pm

  3. […] populist racist? I had only a vague recollection of George Wallace for having been the victim of a failed assassination attempt while seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972. But digging a little deeper, […]

  4. On May 15th, 1972, Wallace, with a full road crew in Laural, Maryland, came to speak at a Presidential rally. His former Pres Secretary, Bill Jones, told him it was a bad idea to step out into crowds, especially in dangerous areas like Maryland, and to not speak at this particular rally. After the speech, against advice, Wallace wandered out into the crowd to shake hands. Arthur Bremer was in the crowd with a loaded .38 caliber revolver. As Wallace walked out into the crowd, Bremer, who had followed Wallace for several months, walked up to him within 3 feet and shot him 5 times. Wallace fell to the ground and was carried to a local hospital where they were able to save him except for one bullet that lodged in his spine that he eventually took to the grave with him. It also forced Wallace to suffer in a wheel chair the rest of his life as a paraplegic.
    Widely reported discrepancies that emerged at the time during the investigation included the fact that Bremer’s finger and palm prints were not found on the gun, although he is shown on film without gloves. The bullets that entered Wallace showed trajectories from above and behind, although Bremer fired all five shots from directly in front of Wallace.

    The entire scene was captured by a CBS News camera crew, purportedly on a tip from the CIA to “be there that day.” The bullets struck at least three witnesses, two of them were removed and recovered, but all the bullets were so damaged that not one of them could be linked to Bremer’s gun.
    Maryland police originally sent out a wanted message for a second man believed to be involved in the shooting, but later retracted it and said it was a mistake.’

    Sound familiar? grassy knoll…


    October 14, 2012 at 1:26 am

  5. This was a political assassination attempt.
    Nixon and his team orchestrated this event and also the assassination attempt 7 months earlier, of Wallace’s #1 campaign, Seymore Trammell.


    October 14, 2012 at 1:33 am

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