Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Governor James Rhodes’ Category

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.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

RhodesTen days after Governor James A. Rhodes assumed office on January 14, 1963, a Cincinnati FBI agent wrote Director J. Edgar Hoover a memo stating: “At this moment he [Rhodes] is busier than a one-armed paper hanger . . . . Consequently, I do not plan to establish contact with him for a few months. We will have no problem with him whatsoever. He is completely controlled by an SAC [Special Agent in Charge] contact, and we have full assurances that anything we need will be made available promptly. Our experience proves this assertion.”

Why would the FBI assert that the newly-inaugurated governor of Ohio is “completely controlled”? Media sources like Life magazine noted the governor’s alleged ties to organized crime and the Mafia in specific. Gov. Rhodes’ FBI file, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, suggests that it may be because of the FBI’s extensive knowledge of Rhodes’ involvement in the numbers rackets in the late 1930’s that the Bureau could count on his cooperation.

FBI declassified material suggests that the Bureau’s extensive influence over Governor Rhodes, perhaps due to their knowledge of his ties to the numbers rackets, may have played a role in the Governor’s hard line law and order tactics that led to the deaths of four students at Kent State in 1970.

A November 19, 1963 FBI memo, again from a Cincinnati agent to Director Hoover, outlines specific allegations from a Bureau’s confidential informant about Rhodes’ involvement in the numbers racket between 1936-38. The informant, a bagman for local organized crime, gave detailed information about pick ups at a cigar store located between Buttles and Goodale Avenues reportedly owned by Rhodes’ sister. Rhodes purportedly was running the gambling operation. Years ago, a Dispatch reporter told the Free Press that the governor had run a gambling operation in the Short North, called Jimmy’s Place.

As Rhodes assumed public office, first as a Columbus School Board member, and later as the Mayor of the city, he began to make overtures to Director Hoover. In a February 1949 letter, Mayor Rhodes invited Hoover to sit on the advisory board of the All-American Newspaper Boys Sports Scholarships organization. Hoover declined. Rhodes thanked him and then invited him to address a banquet for the National Newspaper Boys Association in August of 1949. Hoover again declined.

Two years later, Rhodes was again attempting to contact Hoover. On July 27, 1951, Rhodes called the FBI director’s office and at first refused to speak to Hoover’s assistant L.B. Nichols. When told that the director was in “travel status,” Rhodes explained the important nature of his call. He wanted “to invite the director to attend a celebrity golf tournament, . . . since its benefits were to go to youth organizations and he knew of the director’s interest in youth work.” Nichols declined on behalf of Hoove.

Finally, Rhodes persistence paid off. Rhodes and his wife were given a special tour of the FBI building in Washington D.C. on January 19, 1953. “During the tour Mr. Rhodes stated he wanted to say with all possible sincerity that during all these years he has had continued and absolute faith in one government agency – the FBI,” reads the 1963 memo.

The “completely controlled” memo showed great sympathy to Rhodes’ youthful gambling enterprise: “It is understandable that Rhodes has previously said that it was necessary during the Depression to do many things to keep body and soul together and to provide food for existence.” Although the FBI fails to point out that Rhodes came from an affluent family who paid his way at Ohio State University during the Depression.

The memo goes on to describe Rhodes in the following manner: “He is a friend of law enforcement and believes in honest, hard-hitting law enforcement. He respects and admires FBI.”

Moreover, the agency recommended taking “no further action” against Governor Rhodes and his alleged ties to the gambling racket since, “persons very close to him, such as SAC contact Robert H. Wolfe, Publisher, the Columbus Dispatch, speak very highly of Rhodes and his personal attributes. Wolfe knows Rhodes well and was an active financier of the campaign of Rhodes . . . .”

The SAC of the Cincinnati office took special interest in Rhodes’ first election as governor. Incumbent Governor Michael V. Disalle had hired a former FBI agent to investigate and dig up dirt on Rhodes: “We have arranged with friendly newspaper contacts to endeavor to avoid any headline or other prominent mention of the former FBI status of [deleted].”

Following Rhodes’ 1962 election, the FBI described the governor-elect in the following terms: “Rhodes is a Bureau friend of long standing. Our first contact of record was in November, 1943.” The memo goes on to record that, “On June 18, 1945, the SAC of Cincinnati transmitted a news clipping from the ‘Columbus Dispatch’ of 6-7-45 indicating that Mayor Rhodes urged the establishment of a Bureau field office at Columbus.” Rhodes is portrayed as very “active and very friendly toward the Bureau.” Later FBI files would not include these early contacts between the FBI and Rhodes.

The Bureau does detail one obvious connection between Rhodes and organized crime in Columbus: “One informant stated that the gambling element in Columbus has made a great effort to influence Mayor Rhodes to permit open gambling in the city but without success. In 1949, however, it was noted that the informants alleged that Rhodes did not interfere with the ‘numbers racket’ as apparently he was still interested in the colored vote.”

In July of 1963, a memo from the Cincinnati office on the subject of “Communist Speakers on College Campuses” noted that “Governor James A. Rhodes has signed into law legislation authorizing the trustees of any state-operated college or university to bar from using campus facility any person that they wish to bar.”

The SAC in charge of the Cincinnati Bureau wrote Hoover on October 9, 1967 to relay a conversation he had with Rhodes three days earlier regarding the civil unrest and riots that had rocked the nation during the summer of 1967. “During the conference, we discussed matters of mutual interest, particularly civil disorders and the high crime rate. The Governor told me that he would extend his full facilities, and he is all for stopping racial discord the moment it starts. He revealed that his plan is to immediately deploy troops and/the state patrol as soon as trouble arises,” the memo states.

The Cincinnati SAC concludes, “Our relationship with the Governor is of the highest order and he assured me that we can expect full cooperation from the State of Ohio on any matter of mutual concern.”

By the mid-1960s, the CIA and the FBI were working together through the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on radical groups and harass peace organizations. The FBI’s operation was known as COINTELPRO. The CIA’s was Operation CHAOS.

In 1967, declassified government documents reveal that CIA Director Richard Helms, Hoover and President Lyndon Johnson believed that the domestic protest movements against the Vietnam War were being orchestrated by the Communist governments in Moscow, Peking, Havana and Hanoi.

Governor Rhodes used former SAC Ed Mason as an intermediary in an attempt to meet with Hoover on March 25, 1968. The FBI memo on the matter reads, “He formerly served as mayor of Columbus, Ohio and is a good friend of [deleted] of the ‘Columbus Dispatch.’”

The FBI memo said, “SAC, Cincinnati advises that Rhodes has been extremely cooperative.” Surprisingly, “there’s no indication that Governor Rhodes has ever met Mr. Hoover and he has not received an autographed photograph.”

Less than year before the tragic shootings at Kent State, the SAC of the Cincinnati Bureau sent Hoover a memo detailing Rhodes’ attitude towards civil unrest: “He personally feels that the Director is the outstanding American and that he is the only person who has consistently opposed those persons who would subvert our government. He feels that the Director’s stated position of dealing firmly with these groups is the only sensible method.”

“He [Rhodes] commented on the riots and unrest which have occurred repeatedly and said that some of this might well have been avoided if the Director’s warnings and advice had been followed. In Ohio, he has not hesitated to use the National Guard to deal with these situations and has instructed the Guard to act quickly and firmly. He feels that this is the only way to maintain law and order, and that the maintenance of law and order is the only way our government can survive,” the memo records.

On May 4, 1970, Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause and William Schroeder were shot dead by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State. Numerous investigative accounts have alleged that the FBI was involved in the burning of the campus ROTC building, which led to the deaths of the students.

The SAC in Cincinnati paid a “courtesy call” on Governor Rhodes 18 days after the shootings. Governor Rhodes informed the FBI agent that he intended to keep the Ohio State University campus open, despite what some historians regard as one of the largest student riots in U.S. history. “. . . He [Rhodes] intends to mobilize sufficient members of the Ohio National Guard (ONG) to accomplish this, ‘even if he has to put a guard in every classroom,’” the memo reads.

The Governor blamed the unrest on outside agitators and “commented that of the upwards of 100 persons arrested on May 21 and May 22, 1970, only a few were OSU students. . .” the memo notes. The FBI memo cites that of the 78 arrests, 35 were OSU students and two OSU employees, even though the majority of the arrests were made off-campus.

“. . . the Governor also referred to the current investigation at Kent State University (KSU) and commented that he felt this would present an excellent opportunity for the Department of Justice, through some detailed statement to the news media after the investigation is completed, to get to the public the true story of campus agitation and to identify the organizers of the violence. The Governor appeared somewhat concerned at the possibility that members of the Ohio National Guard might finally end up being charged with an offense in connection to the shooting of the students at Kent,” the memo stated, “He commented at one point that if the ONG members were indicted in regards to this matter that he felt a million dollars should be spent to defend them, if necessary.”

The memo also records for history that, “The Governor commented several times on the close relationship he has enjoyed with the Bureau locally and as a whole.”

Critics have long charged that the FBI deliberately covered up information about those responsible for ordering the Kent State shootings. A tape was recently released revealing what appears to be an order to shoot at Kent State. FBI declassified docouments strongly suggest that the FBI’s extensive influence over Governor Rhodes, perhaps due to their knowledge of his ties to organized crime and the numbers rackets, may have played a key role in the Governor’s violent and repressive tactics that led to death of four students at Kent State in 1970.

— Bob Fitrakis is the Editor & Publisher of http://freepress.org, http://bit.ly/1nednvg. Revised May 3, 2007. Originally posted on April 21, 2003.

Read Full Post »