The US Secret Service is considered to be one of the best law enforcement/protection agencies in the world. So it seems pretty improbable that a bunch of 12 year old, enthusiastic kids could actually outsmart the Secret Service.
In 1968, Hubert H. Humphrey ran on the ticket with then president Lyndon Johnson. A campaign rally was scheduled in the predominantly white Cleveland suburb of Parma Ohio. Hubert Humphrey was to speak at the St. Charles Catholic School. I was a student there at the time. The school administrators said that only the eighth graders were able to attend, as well as the voting public.
I was a 7th grader and I was so upset that I couldn't get to see the Vice Presidential candidate, so much that I volunteered to help set up chairs, sweep the floors etc, because I knew this was the closest I was going to get. When I finished, I walked home and told my mom that I wanted to see at least the candidates motorcade. My mom told me to go ahead but stay out of the way.
I went up to the school and I bumped into about 6 friends of mine that were hanging around for the same reason. The Secret Service had arrived 2 days in advance (the advance team). They brought bomb sniffing dogs, and searched all over the property looking for anything that could be a problem. The evening that Hubert Humphrey was to arrive, all access to the area had been blocked off. There were snipers on the roofs of the school and nearby buildings and even some homes.
One of the guys, the late Richard Potting, said "there's got to be a way to get past these guys." A kid by the name of Daniel Carl said "maybe we can get in through the basement corridor of the church hall." Being altar boys, we knew that corridor was always open so as the motorcade turned into the parking lot of the church, all of us ran through the corridor right onto the playground and right next to the limousine Hubert Humphrey was in. Mr. Humphrey opened his door, got out of the car, waved to the people and immediately the Secret Service were running as fast as the could to get us.
Vice Presidential candidate Humphrey yelled for the Secret Service to "STOP! These are kids." I didn't see any Secret Service anywhere near us. The agents formed a human chain in order to stop the rest of the crowd from rushing the limousine. He shook each one of our hands and thanked us for coming to meet him.
After we had met him, we turned toward the crowd and walked over to the agents that had formed the chain. Mr. Humphrey continued to wave but didn't shake anymore hands. As soon as I got behind the line, a Secret Service agent came over to speak to me " how the hell did you kids get passed our security?" We showed the agent how we got there and all he said was "unbelieveable".
This incident made national news and front page news in the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Cleveland Press. The agents were questioned by the media about how this could have happened. Their answer was "no comment". That was the day that 5 or 6 kids made the Secret Service look like amateurs. I was one of the kids...I was there. RIP Richard Potting
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