Watch the Zapruder film again, and note the dark umbrella which emerges from behind the freeway sign at the bottom left of the frame. It first appears at frame 206 and disapears around 240. Weird huh? Why is someone opening an umbrella under the bright Texas sun on a clear day? The errie behaviour seems like something out of a secret agent story, and for this reason speculation has run wild as to what exactly the Umbrella Man was doing when the President was shot. Some say he was part of an assassination team, using theumbrella to send signals to the shooters.
After the assassination Umbrella Man takes a seat next to this swarthy guy. In a feat of racial profiling worthy of the War on Terror, some theorize the darker-skinned gent is probably Cuban, and therefore a Cuban exile gunning for the President. Others posit the open umbrella symbolized JFK’s refusal to provide an “umbrella” of air support during the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and his killers wanted to remind him of that before they murdered him.
Perhaps the most interesting Umbrella Man theory is something straight out of an Ian Fleming novel. Several theorist cotend that the umbrella was actually a high-powered flechette weapon used to stun the President before the fatal head-shot. Conspiracy lore guru Colonel Fletcher Prouty claims that such weapons did exist, and that he had seen one test fired in the Pentagon in 1960. Fletcher himself is a fascinating and controversial part of the conspiracy phenomenon. He claims to have been part of Black-Ops missions similiar to the assassination of Kennedy, and posits rogue elements of the armed services took him out. He inspired the character X from Oliver Stone’s JFK, played by legendary actor Donald Sutherland.
The Dub Commish made no attempt to track down Umbrella Man. He was identified by the House Select Committe on Assassinations (or HSCA, the second official body to look into the JFK assassination case) as Louis Steven Witt. Witt claims he brought the umbrella to heckle Kennedy, by comparing the President to Nazi-appeasing British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who often carried an umbrella. I’m not sure who’s explanation is weirder, Witt’s or the theorists.