At the Clarendon Hotel on June 2nd, Phoenix, Arizona
June 2nd, 1976, is one of the most horrific days in the history of Phoenix. It's the day of the car bombing of Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles.
Like a lot of Phoenix old-timers, I have mixed feeling about talking about this. There are still a lot of people around who were there on that day, who saw what happened with their own eyes, who can still hear the sounds. It must ring in their ears, and I'm sure that they'd rather not have seen it.
If you're just learning about it for the first time, yes, on June 2nd, 1976, in broad daylight, at about 11:30 a.m., in the parking lot of the Clarendon Hotel, a car bomb went off which several days later took the life of Don Bolles.
As someone who is interested in Phoenix history, I resisted learning about this, or talking about this. Ultimately, it comes under the category of "unsolved crimes", and it seems to bring out those kind of comments that just make me cringe - you know, the kind of comments always made by people with "all of the convictions of the uninformed". And with the invention of the internet, it has just made it that much worse. I'm sure you know what I mean.
But as I stood there yesterday, looking at the people who gathered quietly in the parking lot, I realized that forty years ago has been a long time. And those people who saw it will be fading away. And it's an important story, and not just to Phoenix. It's a story that needs to be told, and preserved, however painful it may be.
It's a wildly complex story, with an enormous number of people who may, or may not, have been involved. The corruption was deeply woven into so many places in Phoenix - that's how organized crime works. And if you're wondering if they ever "got the guy who did it", the answer really is no. But if you're wondering if Phoenix changed on that day, the answer is yes.
Image at the top of this post: Memorial bust of Don Bolles in the lobby of the Clarendon Hotel, 401 W. Clarendon, Phoenix, Arizona. South of Indian School Road, west of Central Avenue.
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Posted by Brad Hall