PIGEON FORGE — Some crimes have impacted the country in such a profound way that it’s important we never forget them. By remembering these crimes, we help honor the victims and teach about the issues in hopes that they are not repeated. There are a few crime anniversaries to remember in July, and Alcatraz East Crime Museum is putting the spotlight for the month on the Watergate scandal and the Colorado theater shooting.
“Both anniversaries are dark times in our nation’s history, but they are important to remember,” says Ally Pennington, artifacts and programs manager for Alcatraz East. “We will be spotlighting these events and others throughout July.”
While the Watergate scandal began in June, its investigation was in full swing by July. It marks the anniversary of one of the biggest political scandals in American history. In June 1972, President Richard Nixon was up for re-election and members of his campaign team were caught wiretapping phones in the Democratic National Committee headquarters and stealing to cover up the crime.
By the following month, a huge investigation was underway, as people realized it wasn’t an ordinary break-in or robbery. A few months after the break-in, Nixon was re-elected by a landslide victory despite the claims against him. However, following a two-year investigation, he resigned on Aug. 9, 1974, when his involvement in the break-in was concretely proven. Artifacts on display regarding this crime include a Nixon Inauguration invitation and a caricature watch.
July 20th is the anniversary of one of the worst mass shootings in the country’s history, occurring in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight showing of the movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012. James Holmes entered the theater wearing tactical gear and brandishing several firearms. He shot tear gas into the crowd and opened fire on the packed audience, killing 12 and injuring 70. At the time, it was the largest mass shooting in American history. On July 16, 2015, Holmes was found guilty of all 165 counts against him and was sentenced to life in federal prison. Alcatraz East Crime Museum has a ticket from a shooting survivor on display.
“We invite people to come to take a look at these artifacts and the many others we have on display,” added Pennington. “We have so much to see about the many cases people are familiar with and some that will be new to them.”
July is also the anniversary of the founding of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), which was started officially in 1908. July 22, 1934, is the anniversary of the death of John Dillinger, one of the FBI’s most-wanted bank robbers. The Alcatraz East Crime Museum currently has a temporary exhibit on Dillinger’s final jailbreak.
With over 100 temporary and permanent exhibits, the Alcatraz East Crime Museum sheds light on crime throughout the country. The museum features information and artifacts about the history of crime, crime scene investigation, consequences of crime, crime-fighting, counterfeit crimes, pop culture, and more. There are numerous popular items on display for people to see, including the famous white Bronco from the O.J. Simpson chase and Ted Bundy’s famous Beetle. The museum also features special guest speakers throughout the year.
This top museum is open at 10 a.m. daily. The last tickets are sold 60 minutes before closing. These interactive experiences are available for birthday parties, school groups, scouts, team building, or other special events for an additional fee. For more information about tickets, discounts, and all the museum offers, visit the site: https://www.alcatrazeast.com.