Monday, January 21, 2008

What Was James Earl Ray's Connection with Southern California?

James Earl Ray was a Southern boy who idolized Adolph Hitler. He carried his picture with him and was a passionate believer in Nazi ideology. He was an overt Nazi when he was in the Army and wanted to be stationed in Germany because he genuinely believed he could revive the Nazi Party there. He loved Germany and German culture.

Ray was convicted of armed robbery on his first visit to California, but only spent 90 days in the L.A. County jail. Ray spent time in a lot of different jails over the years, falling in with neo-Nazi groups. Ray was a racist who wanted to kill blacks, all of them.

After escaping from a Missouri prison, Ray made his way to Southern California with the dream of becoming a pornographer. Instead, he became a passionate Republican, a virulent racist, who fit right into the Southern California landscape. He was a huge fan of Joseph McCarthy and Barry Goldwater.

In Los Angeles, he tried to rebuild his image and establish himself. He had plastic surgery to get an aquiline nose, took dance lessons, attended bartending school, and even went to a psychiatrist to be hypnotized. James Earl Ray was a regular in Hollywood the six months before he shot Martin Luther King.

James Earl Ray used the alias John Galt, the name of the protagonist in Ayn Rand's book, "Atlas Shrugged". The right-wing Ayn Rand Institute is in Irvine, California. Ray made a number of trips to Orange County where he'd meet up with the Free Rhodesia Committee. Ray wanted to go to Rhodesia and fight a white supremacist war with Ian Smith, and he used the Southern California John Birch Society to try and do it.

He worked for the segregationist George Wallace and General Curtis LeMay. The far-right LeMay lived in Newport Beach and ran as Wallace's vice-presidential candidate in 1968. Ray was very active at the Los Angeles campaign headquarters for Wallace.

Martin Luther King visited Anaheim in February, 1968. Ray left Southern California and tracked King to Memphis where he shot him with a high powered rifle on April 4th. He then tried to escape to Rhodesia but was captured in London. He then confessed to the assassination.

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