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Archive for the ‘COINTELPRO’ Category

May 2, 2017 by Laurel Krause

As protest season opens across America, citizen concern for the safety and protection of protesters comes to the fore. Like so many Americans raised in the Sixties, I experience a post-traumatic stress trigger every time a protester faces off with the brute force of law enforcement, bringing back all the memories of the violence against protesters we witnessed during the Vietnam war and Civil Rights movement.

Today whether it’s Water Protectors at Standing Rock, Climate Change Marchers, Black Lives Matters advocates, activists protesting the president’s unconstitutional executive orders, even mass protesters at January’s Women’s March and April’s March for Science, all risk arrest, being made into targets for simply exercising First Amendment rights.

I remember when the US government killed six student protesters at Kent State and Jackson State in May of 1970. The precedent to kill, and get away with it, was established early on in the life of our country however this was the first time it was televised for the world to experience first hand. It hasn’t helped that the US government continues to refuse to accept accountability, admitting no wrongdoing in its targeted assassinations of Americans, including young people who have actively disagreed with American leadership.

In April 2017 Pepsi launched a controversial and pricey protest commercial starring Kendall Jenner. The extended two and one half minute short was immediately scrapped after a very strong negative response from the viewing public. The ‘kinder, gentler’ soft soap version of this battle between protesters and law enforcement in America failed to resonate. No one bought it. Protesters will never save the day by opening a can of soda pop. The commercial irresponsibly and dangerously projects an image of safety while ignoring the actual danger of deadly force from police. This type of advertising is not new. Watch the Pepsi 2017 commercial http://bit.ly/2oJlBOT and watch the Coke commercial from 1971 http://bit.ly/2pjQEEh.

Who made the decision at Pepsi to invest in this fable of a gentle and safe world for protesters? Is this some kind of set up? Will those who are unaware of the blood spilled by protesters and the actual risk of conflict — sometimes deadly — between the police and our black and brown brothers and sisters, be tricked by this ‘kinder, gentler protest world’ imagineered by corporatocracy?

The Pepsi protest commercial is an insult to legions of American protesters who have shed rivers of blood, and still face violent, brute force from authorities. Bernice A. King, the daughter of assassinated Reverend Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. summed it up well in her April 6th tweet, “If only Daddy would have known about the power of Pepsi”.

The truth is that protesting in America has always been extremely dangerous, and as my sister Allison Krause learned on May 4, 1970 in an anti-war rally at Kent State University, it can get you killed by government forces.

Forty-seven years ago Allison was gunned down by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State because she was protesting. The Pepsi commercial is an insult to Allison’s memory. It mocks her bravery and masks the personal risks she took to create a better world for all of us. No quantity of Pepsi could have saved Allison from the brute force of unrestrained government power and a national guard that willingly acted as government henchmen. A Pepsi, in fact, did not stop the bullet that took her life that day.

The Kent State Truth Tribunal seeks accountability and the acknowledgement of startling evidence revealed in 2010 – an exposed command to fire – that emerged, sharing a whole new view of what went down May 4, 1970 at the Kent State massacre, a view so starkly in contrast to the previous official version that it provoked – finally – an admission by the US government that my sister was “killed, murdered’’ by the US government.

For those seven years since we founded the Truth Tribunal, I have spread the word of wrongful protest harassment and killing, and have sought answers about command responsibility, taking the human rights issues of Kent State all the way to the United Nations. http://bbc.in/1qwOdqe.

The 2010 Kent State evidence exists in the form an audio recording of the actual command to fire, digitally isolated and verified by forensic audio expert Stuart Allen. http://bit.ly/aM7Ocm. Have a listen to Stuart Allen analyzing the Kent State tape and hear the command to fire: http://bit.ly/R4Ktio

I learned at the Truth Tribunal how the targeted assassinations at Kent State and Jackson State forever changed the landscape of protest in the United States. One of the top comments I’ve heard is from Maureen Bean Ui Lassig shared, “A horrific day none of us could ever forget. The unimaginable happened. Our children, the kids that would help to shape our future, were shot dead by our own government. RIP Allison.” Most share that they could never view the American government in the same way again.

Back then we watched the military and cops dressed in armor, bearing heavy weaponry created for war, trample the flowers, lives and dreams of those who stood for peace; it reminds me of Allison and her epitaph, “Flowers are better than bullets”.

We must be able to protest in America and express our dissent without fear of death, excessive force or wrongful arrest. The illegal and immoral exercise of power by government forces, corporations and covert groups organized to harm protesters, thwart protests, turn protests into violent, military events (by their very presence), must cease. Intimidating, deterring, and killing protesters violates basic human rights law and the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights. It is also a clear sign of a totalitarian government or dictatorship.

With all this on my mind, I attended an April 2017 Town Hall organized by my Congressman Jared Huffman. During the local event, I asked Representative Huffman to help protect protesters by developing legislation for their protection. I voiced my concern for the lives of Water Protectors at Standing Rock, bolstered by applause from my community. I asked Rep. Huffman to help us counteract the legislation, and law enforcement strategies, seeking to limit our rights to protest. We are beginning our efforts to establish the Allison Krause Bill for the Protection of Protest and Protesters in America.

Who knows what may go wrong this season of protest 2017, especially when we consider the plethora of state legislation intended to limit, hurt and criminalize protest. Even the right to protest on the sidewalk in front of White House is being tried in the courts now at the request of President Trump. http://reut.rs/2pmt6yM

I don’t want to see another protester killed for protesting. It is an American first amendment right to protest that guarantees the right to assemble and take action to disagree and dissent – that is the right to protest! Currently protesters face excessive force, including deadly force, as well as wrongful arrest.

Please join me in demanding your Congressional representatives to support the Allison Krause Bill for the Protection of Protest and Protesters in America, legislation intended to protect the right of Americans to protest without getting killed.

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April 9, 2017

Last week I received a package from the daughter of a woman who helped my sister Allison Krause as she was dying in the Kent State University parking lot. The package contained a greeting card, an image of Dr. Marion Stroud (Allison’s helper), a Letter to the Editor at the Akron Beacon Journal that she wrote shortly after May 4, 1970 and a handkerchief with Allison’s blood … a relic from that day.

Here is the Letter to the Editor written and sent by Dr. Marion Stroud –

To The Editor:

I was with two of the students who were shot and killed by National Guardsmen at Kent Monday and for their sake I want to tell it like it was.

The Guardsmen had marched up the hill after leaving the football practice field. Kids were following them up, some shouting and probably some throwing small stones — there were no “baseball size” rocks available. Without warning the Guards stopped at the top of the hill and fired a long volley of rifle shots into the crowd below.

Many of the kids dropped to the ground and others ran behind the building. There was discussion as to whether the shots were blanks but in seconds we knew they were not. There were kids gathering around the wounded.

THE BOY who died first was shot in the back of the neck. He lay in a vast puddle of his young blood. His friends tried to stop the flow, but he had no pulse nor breath and we all realized he was dead.

There was a cry from a group trying to help a big, beautiful young girl who was lying in the parking lot, shot in the armpit. We tried to put enough scarves and handkerchiefs into the hole to stop the bleeding. She was breathing a little but as we waited for the ambulance I saw her lips go white and her eyes glaze over, and I realized she wouldn’t make it, either.

Five or six victims were picked up on stretchers and those of us who had been fired on stood in small groups trying to figure out why the soldiers had turned and fired without warning. Most of us in that area had been walking away when the shooting started.

THOSE WHO died weren’t wild, SDS bearded hippies. They were kids like my sons and daughters. They came to the Commons for a peace rally. They wanted to know how to get the word to our government that the Vietnam war is immoral and its extension into Cambodia intolerable.

After the shooting one young man said, “You think this bloody mess is awful, just imagine what the kids have to do every day in Vietnam — kill, kill, kill. Plenty of blood in the streets there.”

Listen to them. You know in your hearts, they’re right.

I’m no kid. I’m over 40 and the mother of seven children.

MARION STROUD, Graduate Student, Kent State University

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March 2017

Sift through, learn and peruse this BRAND NEW COMPILATION … A treasure trove of FOIA documents just released by the FBI focusing primarily on Terry Norman who remains a chilling person of interest, an alleged provocateur, in the massacre at the Vietnam War protest at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.

http://www.kentstateterrynorman.com/

 

 

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AllisonKentStateBigOn the 46th anniversary of the Kent State massacre, attorney Michael Kuzma will bring a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Justice Department, demanding records related to the FBI’s role in escalating situations on the campus.

In the years since the killings on the Ohio campus on May 4, 1970, survivors, witnesses and victims’ families have sought to establish the FBI’s involvement.

Kuzma wants that the Justice Department produce all responsive records related to Terrence Norman, reported at the time of the massacre to be a young FBI informant.

Norman is believed by families and observers to have fired the first shots from a revolver and, in the chaos that immediately followed, Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire at unarmed Kent State student protesters, resulting in the deaths of Allison Beth Krause, Jeffrey Glenn Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder and injuries to nine others.

“The time to tear down the veil of secrecy surrounding the involvement of the FBI and Terrence Norman in the assassinations of four Kent State University students is now,” Kuzma said in a news release.

Attorney Daire Brian Irwin, who is handling Kuzma’s complaint filing, said, “Through this lawsuit we hope to learn if the Kent State killings are another example of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program, specifically their ‘New Left’ project targeting student dissent, run amok.”

COINTELPRO was a secret FBI program designed to monitor and neutralize non-violent protest groups and political dissidents deemed by the agency to be a danger to national security.

The FBI has refused to release Norman’s dossier on privacy grounds.

The government will have 30 business days to answer the complaint.

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On May 4, 2016 at the 46th commemoration of the Kent State Massacre, Jennifer Schwartz stood for her cousin Allison Krause and offered this speech:

AllisonFlowersAreBetterMemeAnother May 4th parent has died since last we gathered to commemorate this event. Another mother has left us before the truth is clear and justice is served. My aunt, Doris Krause, Allison’s mother, passed away peacefully under hospice care and in the arms of her sole surviving daughter Laurie on January 17th, just a few months ago. As she crossed over, she left behind decades of profound grief and struggle. Perhaps it is our world she now grieves. A world she taught her children to believe was just, civil, compassionate, and fair.

As I was growing up in Cleveland, my father, Doris’ nephew, used to council me, when I felt wronged by a friend or noted an injustice in the world, he used to say to me “Life isn’t fair.” And he knew. We all sat by feeling helpless as the Krause’s endured a very public grief, and extensive legal battles. Instead of receiving any formal acknowledgement of one of the gravest of misdeeds a government can inflict upon its citizens, they were subject to factually unfounded and prejudicial accusations thrust upon their daughter. In her eulogy for Aunt Doris, my cousin Laurie noted, “my mother lost a child. And that is perhaps the greatest burden of all. When we add to this how unnecessary Allison’s death was, the betrayal of it being carried out by a government meant to protect us, and the crushing pressure of the denial of accountability for now decades, I am truly astounded by the grace and fortitude with which Doris faced this legacy.”

Please join me in a moment of silence for Doris Levine Krause. May her memory be a blessing to us, may her struggle be released, may her quest for truth be carried forth.

I never met my cousin Allison. I was a little nine month old learning to walk and run when she was stopped in her tracks by an M1 bullet right over there in the parking lot. So I have always been looking for the truth myself, searching for accounts that would provide clarity and do Allison and May 4th justice. It concerns me that this history be told and recorded accurately. Among the articles I have found was a 1971 piece, published in the National Review, by William F. Buckley.

Mr. Buckley noted that they found pebbles in her pocket. They called it evidence of her aggression, evidence of her crime. They called it evidence she wielded “missiles” of rock she had concealed in her pocket. Deadly? Really? That’s a sham. The classic, tawdry response: to blame the victim. What really had them shaking in their boots was not some rocks in the pocket of a college freshman with flowers in her hair, but that she wielded words of truth. She confronted their ethics, their judgement, and refused to accept President Nixon’s escalation of the war in Southeast Asia. She was one of many hundreds of thousands across the nation who took to the streets that weekend in May to protest. I could not be more proud of her. My cousin, Allison Krause, was a 19 year old honor’s student. Bright, compassionate, hard-working. She was killed that day as she raised her voice in opposition to a government that had gone morally astray. “They always point out that my daughter had gravel in her pockets,” said my aunt Doris, “that this was the rationale for killing her… why” she asked, “didn’t they throw gravel at her?”

For 46 years we’ve been parted from my cousin Allison. A lifetime! My lifetime. For 46 years we’ve sought answers. For 46 years the government’s been adept at denying culpability, avoiding responsibility and suppressing truth. For 46 years we’ve been lied to and brushed aside. We now know there was an order to shoot; we’ve heard it. Don’t tell us you were afraid for your lives with your loaded M1 rifles and your helmets and your high ground advantage. Don’t tell us you felt endangered when Governor Rhodes himself, your commander in chief, came to town to cheer you on and gave you carte blanche to “eradicate the problem.” For 46 years we’ve called for truth. My uncle Arthur led the legal battle for 10 years following May 4th. While we agreed to a settlement, we were not satisfied that truth was honored nor that justice was done. In a 1981 interview with J. Gregory Payne, my infuriated Uncle Arthur declared “We don’t want the damn money… we want the truth! We want the facts about how the four died. We aren’t afraid of the truth. We aren’t the ones who have been saying “no comment” for the past 10 years.” He went on: “I think we are all responsible for the killings at Kent. You can’t get away from the hatred being spread by national leaders during that time. That political period was one which bred hate and with Nixon and Rhodes fanning the fires you can expect killings as a result.” With all the hate speech going on these days by political leaders, I shudder to think what’s ahead, and like my cousin, I will not allow the hate to go unchallenged.

Allison Beth Krause was the cherished first of two daughters born of Arthur and Doris Krause of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She smiles at me whenever I see her, there in a handful of black and white photos. The impish seven year old girl sits there in a white dress and patent leather shoes next to her little sister Laurie, in the front row of a family portrait taken at my aunt and uncle’s 1958 wedding. I long to reach into the photographs and take her hands and play with her, hug her, know her.

Back in those days in the early sixties, the Krause’s used to go on Sunday drives out in the country around Cleveland, often ending up at Kent, dining at the Robin Hood and enjoying the pastoral campus. Remarkably, at a very early age, Allison made her decision to attend college at Kent State University. She loved it here; she felt at home. She felt safe.

In a eulogy for my cousin, Richard Jaworski, one of her high school teachers at John F. Kennedy High School in Wheaton, Maryland, described her like this:

Constantly she was surrounded by boys and girls who came not only to tell her their problems, but to laugh with her and bask in her quick wit and charm. Allison possessed a rare trait. She could move among many groups of students and always exhibit tolerance for the views of each group in which she participated. When baited by adults, some young people responded with anger and bitterness, if not violence. Allison expressed a passive, stoic quality, as if recognizing the injustice of name-calling, as if realizing the illness of the person filled with hate.”

As she found her political voice in high school, Allison joined other students who were opposed to the war in Vietnam, especially as friends got drafted. As a teenager, Allison participated in anti-war demonstrations. She knew that as an American she had a right to freedom of speech and a right to engage in peaceful assembly.

She entered Kent State University in the fall of 1969 where she quickly made friends, earned high marks in her studies, and met the love of her life, Barry Levine, another young student from New York who shared her values. Together they assembled with others on Friday May 1st on the commons to raise their voices against Nixon’s decision to escalate the war and send more troops into Cambodia. She spent that first weekend of May with friends, doing schoolwork, enjoying the first breath of spring and becoming increasingly concerned about the military presence on campus, now occupied by the National Guard.

On that beautiful, warm spring weekend Allison spent time outside, socializing with friends and talking with some guardsmen among the blooming lilacs. I have heard different accounts of this story, some say Allison placed a flower in the barrel of Guardsman Meyers’ rifle, others say the flower was already there. What is certain, is that guardsman’s smiling face is absolutely beaming in the photographs that have preserved that moment in time, with Allison, the flower, his rifle, and the irony and release of tension they all felt in that moment, as human beings who were on opposite sides of a conflict. And when Allison witnessed that guardsman’s superior come along and reprimand him there for having a silly flower in his gun barrel, Allison responded,

“WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH PEACE? FLOWERS ARE BETTER THAN BULLETS!”

The next day Allison and Barry joined the increasingly tense voices on the commons as the students squared off with the heavily armed National Guard. In Payne’s May Day: Kent State, I found Barry’s accounting of these final moments of Allison’s life, which provides such insight into her character:

As we stood on the hill watching and waiting for the soldiers to make their move, Allison ripped in half the moistened cloth she had brought for protection against tear gas. Another dispersal order was given, yet no advance was made, so Allison felt safe in running a few yards to give a friend part of her already compromised cloth. She tore hers again and gave him half. It was a small gesture, but one that so clearly demonstrated her consideration and willingness to share. Tear gas was already being fired as she scrambled back to where I was waiting. We stood for a few seconds, watching the soldiers move out behind a screen of gas, before deciding to retreat with a crowd of students. As we began to retreat over the hill, I could see Allison almost beginning to cry. A few steps further she turned to me with tears rolling down her cheeks and asked, ‘Why are they doing this to us? Why don’t they let us be?’ A peaceful assembly was being violently disrupted, breeding anger in most of those being dispersed. However Allison did not feel anger, but rather disappointment and sorrow. Disappointment because the students were not given a chance to gather peacefully, and sorrow because of the violence she felt would ensue. Unfortunately these passive emotions were soon transformed into aggression, for as we retreated, a gas canister landed at our feet, exploding in our faces. It was at this point that Allison’s sorrow changed to anger and her strained tolerance turned to resistance. After a few seconds of recovery, Allison turned in her tracks and froze. She stood in the path of the pursuing troops screaming at the top of her lungs. Having been pushed too far, she now lashed back and I was forced to pull her along, fearing that the distance between us and the oncoming troops was becoming critical. Twice, before we reached the crest of the hill, she turned to speak her mind to these men. Each time I had to pull her onward. Upon reaching the top of the hill, she again turned, and with tears streaming down her cheeks, she screamed and yelled and stomped her feet as if all her yelling might stop these men. The hand drawn to her face holds a wet rag used to protect herself from the gas, and the other holds mine, with which I pulled her over the hill and into the parking lot, a safe distance from the troops. For several minutes we stood in the parking lot watching these men threaten us with their rifles. In response, we cursed them and threw rocks. When they left we followed, all the time screaming and yelling, and then they turned.”

None of the four dead or nine wounded were armed that day with anything truly threatening but their voices that challenged the state’s right to kill. State-sponsored violence against peaceful but vocal citizens was permissible in 1970. This precedent paved the way for continued ongoing police aggression across the country that is with us to this day.

While we commemorate this sad anniversary, let us understand that in the days that followed the Kent State killings, precious lives were lost at Jackson State as well. Yet Jackson State has not remained in the national memory in the same way that Kent State has. As Samaria Rice joins us here today, a courageous and outspoken mother standing up to the police who took the life of her son Tamir, we are reminded that while our Kent State students were murdered for their political beliefs, to this day American citizens continue to be targeted simply on the basis of their race. It was a feature of the killing at Jackson State that tragically and egregiously continues to this day. I would like to take this occasion to remember Jackson State, as well as to honor the life of young Tamir Rice. My cousin Allison would want us to do this.

My name is Jennifer Schwartz. I find pebbles in my pocket every time I visit Allison’s grave, carrying rocks with me to lay upon her headstone as a symbol of my remembering.

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First published May 12, 2015 by Pat LaMarche in her column at the Huffington Post

DominoTheoryIt’s graduation season and nearly two million undergrads will receive their diplomas this year. While campuses all across the nation groom themselves for commencement, one university reels from the weight of another commemoration.

Last week at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, hundreds of visitors flocked to a solitary parking lot to pay their respect. Respect has been in short supply for the victims and families of the Kent State massacre.

On May 4, 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed student protesters. 13 students were shot, four of whom died. The university has blocked off the spaces in the lot where the innocents fell – but has left the rest of the parking lot open to vehicles. You can’t park on the exact space where Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder were killed, but you can park right next to them. And there aren’t any barriers where the nine wounded students – Alan Canfora, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Dean Kahler, Joseph Lewis, Donald MacKenzie, James Russell, Robert Stamps, and Douglas Wrentmore – where shot and bled.

The university decision to use as many available parking spaces as possible epitomizes how undervalued the lives of these victims were and still are. To be fair, you can still watch movies at the Aurora, Colorado Movieplex where 12 people were killed and 70 more were wounded. However, there’s a glaring difference between Kent State and the Aurora shootings: in Aurora, the authorities held the shooter responsible. James Holmes has been charged with 165 counts – including murder and attempted murder – and NBC news carries video of the trial.

There’s been no criminal trial for the shooters at Kent State. That’s because state and federal governments are immune from prosecution.

Without transparency, without assignation of guilt, two inevitable consequences occur: survivors assume guilt that isn’t theirs and offenders are free to repeat their crimes.

Visitors to the 45th anniversary of the Kent State shooting vocalized a great deal of internalized and misplaced guilt. Just prior to the 2015 memorial candlelight ceremony, Dean Kahler, who’s spent the last 45 years in a wheel chair, remarked, “It’s not about me, it’s about the four who died.”

Scott Duncanson, a protestor who escaped May 4, 1970 unharmed, still grieves the opportunities lost to his classmates, “We got to have children.”

The Kent State demonstrations followed President Richard Nixon’s acknowledgement that he – absent Congressional approval – was bombing Cambodia. The big picture is sketchy but the survivors share details that they remember vividly. There was a fire at the ROTC building. The city was locked down with tanks and vehicles mounted with machine guns. During protests the night before the massacre, guardsmen bayoneted students. And after nightfall, helicopters hovered over the campus with searchlights dropping tear gas. By the time the students were shot and killed at Kent State, Kent, Ohio was a city occupied by a heavily armed military force.

President Nixon promised America that without swift action to insure democracy, one government after another would fall victim to ruthless leadership. He used this “logic” to justify aggression across the Asian continent from Korea to Cambodia. The term he and his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower used for this successive collapse of republicanism was “The Domino Theory.”

Kent State has proven Nixon’s philosophy, but not in the way he intended.

Kent State is one incident in a long line of militaristic attacks on the civilian population. As far back as George Washington’s suppression of the Whiskey Rebellion, the military and other police forces have been used as armed aggressors against the citizenry. When the Chicago Police attacked the protesters at Haymarket prompting a false trial and the execution of innocent men, it prepared the way for the Kent State shootings and the trial of the Kent 25. And the subsequent Justice Department refusal to examine what happened in that small Ohio town in 1970 has toppled the dominos leading to Freddie Gray’s severed spine in Baltimore.

It’s never too late to examine the reality of circumstances, motivations, and outcomes in history. Although, when decades pass and eyewitnesses die, it gets harder to illuminate the darker corners of the past. Last week, the Kent State campus filled with survivors seeking closure and comfort from visiting their past. The best way to prevent police brutality and government-sponsored violence is to expose it. In the case of the Kent State Massacres, there’s still time.

Joe Lewis, the only Kent State survivor who was shot twice, summed up his desire for justice because he believes that survival comes with responsibility, “That ‘s part of the reason I come back here every year is to speak up for them. [Krause, Miller, Scheuer, and Schroeder] Because they would have spoken up for me had the shoe been on the other foot.”

Laurel Krause, Allison Krause’s younger sister and co-founder of the Kent State Truth Tribunal, seeks to open the closed book on Kent State and detail what really happened in 1970. Krause wants to know why the soldiers shot her sister, the other Kent State victims, and the lesser-known students killed and wounded later at Jackson state. In her remarks addressing the crowd assembled at Kent State May 4th Krause cautioned, “Even today, 45 years later, a culture of impunity persists. We read the news and see law enforcement killing young African Americans across the country. Those of us who witnessed Kent State have to ask whether things might have been different if this era of brutal suppression of political protest had resulted in accountability.”

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January 11, 2015 from the Mendocino coast

A birthday blog for my father Arthur S. Krause on his 90th in this vintage review of I.F. Stone’s 1971 book, The Killings at Kent State, How Murder Went Unpunished

Our Allison was one of ‘Four Dead in Ohio’ … shot to death by US military personnel as she protested the Vietnam War on her Kent State University campus at noon.

Read the true story of Kent State, Jackson State and as you consider these facts, please realize that American leadership’s standard judicial remedy for the murder of civilians is to offer and institute the American grand jury system. Whether in 2015 or in 1970, official US grand juries continue to fail to enable truth, redress, accountability or justice for Americans, especially when American civilians are killed by US law enforcement.

A Harvard Crimson Book Review: I. F. Stone’s Exposing Kent State by Garrett Epps, February 16, 1971, full article

arthur.krause.ksu.1975-1-1THE “forces of order” disposed of six students last May-four whites at Kent State and two blacks at Jackson State. Immediately after the shots were fired, in each case, the killers and the officials who dispatched them began covering up the crime and preparing to use the legal system to discredit and punish “ringleaders.”

At Jackson, the local police, the Mississippi Highway Patrol, and the authorities proceeded with coldblooded efficiency born of long practice, using well-established administrative practices to cover up the wanton murder of blacks. As soon as the troopers had stopped firing, the Scranton Commission reported, they calmly picked up and hid the shell casings lying on the ground. They then agreed on a story and stuck to it in their testimony before the Hinds County Grand Jury and their replies to FBI investigators. All of those interviewed denied shooting-a story so ridiculous that even the local grand jury, which found the murders justified, called their declarations “absolutely false.”

After further questioning, the Highway Patrol produced a few shells which it had forcehandedly saved-all were from city police guns. When confronted with this evidence, three Jackson policemen admitted that they had fired. However, neither the local nor the federal grand juries felt compelled to consider charges under the perjury or “false declaration” laws, Instead, they turned the shell casings over to the FBI. Before recessing, however, the county grand jury indicted a young black named Ernest Kyles for arson and inciting to riot.

The cover-up mechanism here was strong; it was roughly the same as that used by the authorities in Orangeburg, S.C., in 1968, after troopers there shot and killed three black students and wounded twenty-seven. Although nineteen policemen were indicted for the shootings, they were later acquitted, returned to duty, and promoted.

It seems unlikely that the Jackson State cover-up will be broken and the guilty punished-especially since the Nixon administration has given unmistakable notice that it is not very interested in pushing investigations into murders of blacks by whites upon whom it is depending for reelection (FBI agents interviewing the police in Mississippi did not bother to keep written records of the interviews-a standard practice intended to make preparing a case easier for local prosecutors).

Initially, the killings at Kent State and the after-math follow the same pattern: disorder breaks out, deadly force is called in to quell it, people are shot at random, evidence is suppressed, and a kangaroo tribunal returns indictments against the victims while clearing the killers. This is what happened during the summer and early fall at Kent: a grand jury cleared the Guardsmen, while indicting 25 students on charges of riot, arson, and unlawful assembly. The report-including a passage which stated that the responsibility for the shootings lay with the students, faculty, and Administration of the University-was published. It seemed likely that the students would be tried and sentenced and the matter forgotten.

BUT the analogy has broken down; for the victims at Kent were not blacks (whose murders are accepted as a matter of course by most of the white middle class), but-as the media never tired of repeating-the children of middle America, kids like the kids next door.

Liberal response was impressive-Ramsey Clark and Mark Lane, among others, came to Ohio to defend those indicted. The pressure has paid off in some partial victories for the Kent 25: two weeks ago, a Federal district judge invalidated the Ohio grand jury report and ordered all available copies burned because it might prejudice jurors if the case came to trial. Ohio State Attorney General William J. Brown is appealing the case and opposing a move to quash the indictments which followed the decision, but it now seems possible that most of the Kent 25 will get off.

I.F. Stone has written a book, The Killings at Kent State which illuminates some of the pressures which caused the shootings and the cover-up which followed. Moreover, he has published some official documents which reveal how the cover-up was effected-including an FBI report prepared in June which says “we have some reason to believe that the claim by National Guardsmen that their lives were endangered was fabricated subsequent to the event.” The book is partly a collection of pieces about the shootings which Stone wrote late last year for the New York Review of Books, with a special report by the Akron Beacon-Journal, a summary of the FBI report-never published before-and the text of the original grand jury report appended.

He also deals with Jackson State, but there he found less information to go on. The Justice Department and the media have taken less of an interest in Jackson: what happened there was established procedure. As Attorney General John Mitchell said last month: “The case is closed. The judicial process has taken its course.”

Stone has been around for a long time, and he can see through official lies and half-truths better than any other American journalist. He also has a large capacity for liberal outrage, and he finds plenty to anger him in the Kent situation. It is apparent that, from the decision to call in the National Guard until the publication of the Grand Jury report, the students at Kent State were victims of a cynical political system that counted their deaths merely as embarrassments or opportunities to entrench itself further in power.

Ohio Governor James Rhodes took over the handling of the Kent situation personally on Sunday, the day before the murders. The night before, students had burned the ROTC building on campus, slashing hoses when firemen came to put out the fire. Rhodes went to great lengths to demonstrate that he was hopping mad. He told a press conference that he had ordered the Guard to break up all assemblies on the campus, regardless of whether or not they were violent.

Pounding his fist on the table, he intoned, “We’re going to employ every force of law that we have under our authority. . . . We are going to employ every weapon possible. . . . You cannot continue to set fires to buildings that are worth five to ten million dollars [the ROTC building was valued at about $50,000] . . . . These people just move from one campus to another and terrorize a community. They’re worse than the brown shirts and the Communist element and also the night riders in the vigilantes [sic]. They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. . . . There is no sanctuary for these people to burn down buildings. It’s over with in Ohio.”

Some of Rhode’s deep moral outrage may be explained by the fact that he was running for the Republican Senatorial nomination in a primary two days away. Anti-student measures were good politics and Rhodes seized the chance to show what a tough guy he could be by turning the Guard loose on the Kent students with orders to let them have it.

THE GUARD he was using to prove his point was a weapon with a hair-trigger. The Ohio National Guard is the barony of Gen. Sylvester T. Del Corso, a former Army Colonel with the habit of keeping his office clock four hours fast. Del Corso appeared on televised hearings of the Scranton Commission last summer, sporting a complacent smile and carrying a large rock and a length of steel pipe which he claimed students had thrown at his men. Corso had achieved fame in Ohio before Kent by denouncing Cleveland Mayor Carl Stokes as a tool of black revolutionaries and Communists, and by blaming permissiveness and a Communist conspiracy for ghetto riots. His Guard was one of the few in the nation which routinely carried live ammunition, and it had standing orders to shoot back at snipers.

Before being ordered to Kent on May 2, the Guard units involved had spent four days on active duty fighting a wildcat strike. When the order came, one-third of the force was assembled and given a one-hour review lesson in riot control. Then the whole detachment piled into trucks and headed for the campus.

Rhodes and Del Corso had both made it clear that the Guard should not feel inhibited about their methods in breaking up student demonstrations. Students-all students-were the enemy. The Guard had no clear function on campus. It was there to punish the campus for being unruly, for being antiwar, for being young. It was there to garner a few points for an ambitious politician.

The Guardsmen shot, killing four and wounding [nine]. No one can make any sense out of the shooting; there was no sniping; the Guardsmen were neither in danger nor even surrounded; the number of rocks thrown was not large; and there was even plenty of tear gas-both FBI reports and the report by the Beacon-Journal make these facts clear. The only gun seized on campus that day belonged to a student taking pictures for the campus police. [Allegedly from Terry Norman, KSU student and FBI Informant/Provocateur]

The Guardsmen were acting on an ideology enunciated by Nixon, Agnew, and Del Corso. The students were the enemy, the American Viet Cong, guilty of the crime of being in the way. The Guardsmen had been given a focus for their anger, given live ammunition, and told to take care of the situation. No one can contend that they shot cold-bloodedly, taking out their anger like the hardhats. Undoubtedly they fired in blind, tired, nervous panic. But the shells had been loaded and the powder primed very carefully in Washington and Columbus.

Rhodes lost the primary the next day and went into seclusion, refusing to speak to reporters for three weeks. But the cover-up was under way before that. According to the FBI report, the Guardsmen got together and agreed to say that they had been in danger and had fired to keep from being overrun by students who wanted to grab their guns and bayonet them. The Beacon-Journal report explodes this flimsy story by quoting a Guardsman as saying, “The guys have been saying that we got to get together and stick to the same story, that it was our lives or them, a matter of survival. I told them I would tell the truth and I wouldn’t get in trouble that way.”

THE FBI reports also destroy the story, reporting that only one Guardsman was seriously injured in the action before the firing, and that “the Guardsmen clearly did not believe that they were being fired upon.” Photographs do not show Guardsmen crouching or seeking cover from rocks. And, the report says, “We have some reason to believe that the claim by Guardsmen that their lives were endangered by the students was fabricated after the fact.”

The Ohio Grand Jury that met to consider the shootings, however, was not programmed to accept these possibilities. It had one purpose: to exonerate the Guard. To have done otherwise, as Stone points out, would have been to condemn Rhodes. The political underlings accepted as a matter of course the Governor’s complicity in the killings and moved to prevent it from being known. Thus, the chief prosecutor read the FBI report but did not submit it to the Grand Jury. He also neglected to call a number of Guardsmen named in the FBI report who gave testimony contrary to the pre-planned conclusion that the Guard had been in danger. Another prosecutor later told the newspapers that the National Guard “should have shot all the troublemakers.”

The grand jury gave the expected whitewash, and the published report expanded considerably on its original mandate. It first dealt with the question of the Guardsmen (simultaneously deciding that a number of students should be charged with riot). The Guardsmen, it said, had “fired in the sincere and honest belief and under the circumstances which would have logically caused them to believe that they would have suffered serious bodily injury had they not done so,” and were “not, therefore, subject to criminal prosecution.”

The report then fixed responsibility for the four deaths on the university administration, which was “permissive”: even though SDS had been banned from the campus for more than a year, the Grand Jury made much of the fact that any other organization could be accredited to use University facilities without prior political screenings. The Administration had even, it charged, allowed a rock concert by “a rock music group known as the ‘Jefferson Airplane'” at which slide projectors had shown shots of the Guardsmen firing at the students.

THE SOLUTION the report proposed was designed to prevent any more Kent States: “Expel the troublemakers without fear or favor.”

The repressive mechanisms swung into action: the 25 were indicted, and tough new laws and rules were inaugurated to make pacification of students easier. One bill, the Ohio Campus Disorders Act, requires that an outside referee be appointed by the Regents of every State University with the advice of the local Bar Association. This referee would hear disciplinary cases of students arrested for-not convicted of-any felony or misdemeanor. He has the unrestricted right to expel or suspend students brought before him.

The Bar Association in Kent nominated Seabury Brown-the prosecutor who had said that “the National Guard should have shot all the troublemakers.”

This nomination was vetoed by the Regents; and it seems possible that the Kent 25 may not be jailed for the crime of having served as moving targets. But the machinery is being honed. Next time it will work better; and soon, it may be as ruthless and efficient everywhere as it is in Mississippi.

It would be satisfying to imagine that this book-thorough and remarkably well-documented, considering the haste with which it was assembled-could cause a public outcry; but it is impossible. Stone told a reporter last week that he did not expect much reaction to the book. “The war has made moral imbeciles of us all,” he said. Truly, six years of escalating war at home and in Vietnam have revealed clearly that our democratic institutions are a sick joke, and the realization has numbed us. We may be beaten to the ground before feeling returns.

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