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What to do with relics of a murder?

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When the Ambassador Hotel was knocked down, parts of its pantry went into storage. The pantry, of course, is where Robert F. Kennedy was mortally wounded after speaking to supporters in the hotel's ballroom; he'd just won the 1968 California Democratic primary.

Now the LA Times catches up with 29 items, socked away in storage. There's a cabinet door. There are some fixtures. There's a table. But there's not actually a pantry anymore, even though that was the original plan.

Earlier environmental studies had declared that the pantry was "exceptionally significant" and should be preserved in some manner. Subsequent plans called for it to be moved as a whole or in pieces for reconstruction at the school later. But then engineers found the structure too deteriorated to survive a relocation.

Not to sound all preservation-y and all, but after watching how much equipment it took to knock the hotel down, we find the "too deteriorated" a little hard to believe, and we think
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Franklin Avenue agrees.

Now it seems the chances that these items will wind up someplace where they might make people think about the 1960s, the Kennedys, the US role in the Middle East, or the impact the Vietnam War had on domestic politics are increasingly small. The historical value of a cabinet door is pretty negligible compared to the historical value of a room where someone was shot.

One complaint by officials is that if the room were preserved on site, students wouldn't take it seriously: "It would become a joke with the kids," one said. Really? The same kids who spent the last three days walking out of school to support rights of immigrants? We think they would appreciate what RFK stood up for; in fact, we think they would have liked him a lot.

photo by Jimmy Reany