Bremer, Arthur H. 1950–
Bremer, Arthur H. 1950–
(Arthur Herman Bremer)
PERSONAL: Born August 21, 1950, in Milwaukee, WI; son of William (a truck driver) and Sylvia Bremer. Education: Attended Milwaukee Technical College.
ADDRESSES: Home—Maryland Correctional Institution—Hagerstown, 18601 Roxbury Rd., Hagerstown, MD 21746.
CAREER: Convicted felon. Story Elementary School, Milwaukee, WI, former janitor; Milwaukee Athletic Club, Milwaukee, former busboy.
An Assassin's Diary, introduction by Harding Lemay, Harper's Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1973.
SIDELIGHTS: Arthur H. Bremer was a troubled young man when he attempted to assassinate one of the most prominent segregationists in the South. On May 15, 1972, he shot governor of Alabama and then-presidential candidate George C. Wallace, striking him in the spine. Wallace was paralyzed from the waist down, but he survived.
In March of 1972, Bremer began keeping a diary of his attempt to assassinate a politician, but at that time he had not decided whether to shoot Wallace or pursue President Richard Nixon. The diary was read in full as evidence in Bremer's trial, and the next year it was published as An Assassin's Diary, complete with Bremer's spelling errors. In this work, Bremer revealed that he had hoped to assassinate President Nixon during a visit to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in April of 1972, but he was foiled by Nixon's tight security. The first half of the original diary, although lost, was recovered from a landfill in 1980.
Wallace was wary of assassination attempts, even speaking from behind a bulletproof podium in Laurel, Maryland, the day he was shot. He often wore a bulletproof vest as well, but that day the weather was warm and he decided to forego it. After his speech, Wallace stepped out from behind the podium and, as was his custom, walked through the crowd to shake his supporters' hands. When he walked by Bremer and stretched out his arm to shake the man's hand, Bremer shot him. Wallace, the victim Bremer had called a "segregationist dinosaur," died in 1998 of cardiac arrest, several years after he forgave his attacker. Although the diary indicated that Bremer was antisocial and psychopathic, he was deemed not to be psychotic and was sentenced to fifty-three years in the Maryland Correctional Institution.
Bremer's diary became one of the inspirations for Martin Scorsese's film Taxi Driver, about a mentally ill Vietnam veteran who attempts to assassinate a presidential candidate. That film, in turn, inspired another notorious assassination attempt, John Hinckley's shooting of President Ronald Reagan in 1980.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bremer, Arthur H., An Assassin's Diary, introduction by Harding Lemay, Harper's Magazine Press (New York, NY), 1973.
World of Criminal Justice, two volumes, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 15, 1998, "Wallace Gunman Seeking Parole," p. 7.
Insight on the News, November 29, 1999, Timothy W. Maier, James P. Lucier, "Possible Conspiracy in Wallace Assassination Attempt?," p. 6.
Public Broadcasting Service Web site, http://www.pbs.org/ (June 25, 2005), American Experience: "Portrait of an Assassin: Arthur Bremer."