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Leo Joseph Ryan Jr., (May 5, 1925 – November 18, 1978), an American educator and politician.
Ryan, a member of the Democratic Party, served as the head of California's 11th congressional district from 1973 to 1978, during the Watts riots of 1965, he served as a substitute school teacher to investigate and report conditions.
He started an inquiry into California jails in 1970.
When presiding as chairman of the Assembly committee that oversaw prison reform, he used a pseudonym to enter Folsom State Prison as an inmate.
Ryan travelled to Newfoundland to investigate seal hunting during his time in congress.
Ryan was shot and killed at an airstrip in Guyana on November 18, 1978, when he and his party were trying to escape. He was also known for his vocal defense of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)'s lack of congressional oversight.
He had flown to Guyana to look into allegations that people were being detained against their will at the Peoples Temple Jonestown settlement.
909 members of the Jonestown Accordance died in a mass suicide/homicide by drinking cyanide-laced Flavor Aid shortly after the airstrip shootings.
Since James M. Hinds' in 1868, Ryan was the second sitting member of the United States House of Representatives to be assassinated in office.
Early life and education
Ryan was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. During his early years, his family moved from Illinois, Florida, New York, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts. In 1943, Ryan graduated from Campion Jesuit High School in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He completed V-12 officer training at Bates College and served with the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946 as a submariner.
Ryan received a B.A. from Creighton University in Nebraska. In 1949, she was a M.S., as well as an M.A. In 1951, there were 51 people in the United Kingdom. From 1956 to 1962, he served as a teacher, school administrator, and the city councilman of South San Francisco. He taught English at Capuchino High School and chaperoned the marching band's 1961 trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in President John F. Kennedy's inaugural parade. In his inaugural address, Ryan was inspired by Kennedy's call to service and vowed to run for higher office.
In 1962, Ryan was elected mayor of South San Francisco. He served less than a year before being elected to the California State Assembly and winning the 27th district election by 20,000 votes. In 1958, he had fought for the Assembly's 25th district but lost to Republican Louis Francis. In 1964 and 1968, Ryan served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and later held his Assembly seat until 1972, when he was first elected to the United States House of Representatives. He was reelected three times.
Former California state Senator and Ryan aide Jackie Speier characterized Ryan's probe as "experiential legislating." Ryan went to the Watts riots of 1965 and took up teaching as a substitute school teacher to look into and report conditions. Ryan was arrested, detained, and strip searched to look at prison conditions in California's jails in 1970 using a pseudonym. While serving as chairman on the Assembly committee that oversaw prison reform, he stayed at Folsom State Prison for ten days as an inmate.
Ryan chaired legislative subcommittee hearings and presided over hearings involving Tom Lantos, his eventual replacement in the House of Representatives, as a California assemblyman. Ryan pushed through significant educational reforms and introduced what came to be the Ryan Act, which established an independent oversight commission to monitor educational credentialing in California.
Ryan and James Jeffords traveled to Newfoundland with James Jeffords to look at the inhumane killing of seals and became known for his scathing remarks of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which would have required extensive CIA notification of Congress regarding clandestine operations. Ryan once told Dick Cheney that breaching a state secret was the right way for a member of Congress to prevent a "ill-conceived project." He accepted Patty Hearst's request for a presidential commutation to the Pardon Attorney, along with Senator S. I. Hayakawa.