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Archive for the ‘Kent State Truth Tribunal’ Category

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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On October 19, 2016 before the US Dept of the Interior and the National Park Service, the Kent State Massacre nomination for National Historic Landmark status was heard. Please read Mary Ann Vecchio’s comment before the nomination advisory board in Washington, D.C. offered on October 19, 2016:

©1970 John Filo. All Rights reserved.

©1970 John Filo. All Rights reserved.

My name is Mary Ann Vecchio. I am the 14-year-old in the iconic, Pulitzer-prize-winning photo taken at Kent State. I am pictured kneeling above the body of 20-year old Jeff Miller as he lay dying. I am here because I am deeply concerned about this application to designate Kent State as a National Historic Landmark. I am also a member of the National Parks Service, an institution that I love from the core of my being.

Like so many of us present at the Kent State shootings, I have carried profound life-long consequences for my presence at the massacre site. My exclusion from this process is an indication of how poorly it has been executed.

Kent State University does not own the narrative of what took place on May 4, 1970. It belongs to each of us there that day, those injured, whose lives were forever altered, and above all to the families of those killed. That fateful day harmed all of us and this exclusionary process which seeks to rewrite the truth is newly re-victimizing.

I have had a chance to review the 144-page landmark nomination report and have come before you to say that the facts included in the report are inaccurate and incomplete. A credible account of the Kent State shootings is not being presented to the Department of Interior in this landmark nomination.

Kent State University has only allowed one side of the truth to be told over these last 46 years, yet it has not been challenged for this revisionism. At what point can the victims and witnesses present at Kent State be heard and stop being subjected to these untruths and distortions? The government injured us once and we are before a government commission again. We cannot bring back those lost at Kent State so all we have at this point is the truth.

There are many elements and recent developments completely censored from the nomination report, I will list just a few that have meaning for me:

New forensic evidence emerged in 2010 which established a command to fire, debunking the idea that the national guard acted spontaneously. This evidence, produced by forensic scientist Stuart Allen, was not even mentioned in the landmark report. Stuart Allen’s analysis points to government complicity at Kent State – a central feature of the accountability the victims have been seeking for decades.

On a more symbolic note but one dear to me, Neil Young’s anthem to the Kent State massacre, the popular song Ohio, is also not mentioned in the KSU nomination report.

Finally, the photo which exposed me to public scrutiny for decades is not explored in this report. I am happy to honor those harmed at Kent State with the circulation of that iconic photograph, an indication of how well-known and well-documented the massacre has been, but it grieves me deeply to know that the vast exposure of this historic event can result in a report so weighted with untruths. I deserve the truth, those killed at Kent State deserve the truth, and the American people as a whole certainly do too.

I have other objections to the content of the landmark application which I am happy to share if my further participation is invited by the Landmark Commission.

I am asking the National Parks Service to please pause, and listen to all concerned about this project, certainly not just Kent State University’s purported experts.

 



From Pat LaMarche in the Huffington Post on the Kent State massacre landmark nomination hearing, October 19, 2016 http://huff.to/2dwIqmU

The Kent State University landmark nomination report on the Kent State massacre that occurred May 4, 1970 http://bit.ly/2cIV1lO

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October 22, 2016 by Pat LaMarche, originally published here

maryannvecchionewWhen she thinks about the time she spent in the parking lot, Mary Ann Vecchio’s thoughts shift back and forth between watching Allison Krause last attempts to speak and the massive hole torn through the back of Jeff Miller’s head. “I was shocked by all the blood. There was just so much blood,” Vecchio explained in the car on her way to Washington D.C. Wednesday, to voice her qualified support of a Kent State National Monument. Vecchio continued, “It was a sit down. The soldiers were lined up and yeah, they had tear gas, but we never expected that they’d shoot at us. Then they started coming at us with the guns with bayonets, in full riot gear, wearing gas masks. And I was scared to death.” After 46 years, Mary Ann still cries when she details the events of May 4, 1970, the fateful day that the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed protestors at Kent State University.

There were lots of kids at Kent that day. Four killed. Nine wounded. And hundreds more hit the ground when the bullets started flying, but only one was immortalized in a Pulitzer prize winning photograph that graced front pages from Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer to Newsweek magazine. John Filo, a photojournalism major in the crowd that day, opened his shutter and captured the horror and anguish of everyone on that campus. Vecchio’s picture remains one of the most impactful photos of the 20th century.

Consequently, modern memory would remake Mary Ann Vecchio as the face of the Kent State Massacre.

Sadly, at the time, Vecchio and the fallen protesters became the poster children for the Nixon Administration’s assault on the character of student protestors across the nation. Nixon himself called the students, “bums.” Back in her home state of Florida, the governor, Claude Kirk, called Vecchio a communist. Vecchio, not a Kent student, was a teen who had run away from home to protest the war in Vietnam. Kirk used her non-student status to character assassinate Vecchio. He said that she had been planted at the University by the communists and that she was responsible for the deaths of the students there. The press hounded her. The FBI hunted her. Local police profiled her. And she has yet to forgive herself for the pain she caused her parents.

By 1990, even though popular sentiment had begun turning in favor of the student protesters, Vecchio had slipped into hiding. She’d stopped granting interviews except to ask reporters and their news agencies to leave her alone. She’d explain that Kent State had ruined her life. She didn’t trust the media – several of whom had turned her over to the FBI after she’d agreed to meet with them in the early 70’s. She was so heavily targeted that she couldn’t speak out against the injustice she’d witnessed. Vecchio wanted nothing to do with the fame and shame her time at Kent State brought her.

Until this week.

Mary Ann Vecchio ventured out to address the National Park System Advisory Board about the possible designation of the Kent State Shootings Site as a National Monument.

The campus at Kent State is owned by the state of Ohio. The parking lot where Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder, and Sandra Scheuer were killed is effectively public property. Creating a National Monument on the site should be pretty straightforward. Laura L. Davis, Professor Emeritus of English – herself, a student protester that day – and Mark F. Seeman, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology authored the application. In their submission they credit current faculty with assisting them in their collection of data for the application. They don’t however cite victims like Mary Ann Vecchio as contributors to the request, because Vecchio and others were omitted from the process.

Vecchio explained her feelings to the board, “Like so many of us present at the Kent State shootings, I have carried profound life-long consequences for my presence at the massacre site… Kent State University does not own the narrative of what took place on May 4, 1970. It belongs to each of us there that day, those injured whose lives were forever altered, and above all to the families of those killed.”

Fortunately, the National Park System Advisory Board rectified the applicants’ blunder. The board agreed unanimously that the Kent State site fit the criteria of historical significance but after lengthy discussion they also agreed that many appropriate accounts were missing from the story. The board charged Davis and Seeman with amending their applications to include the appropriate historiography associated with Kent State. The board reminded the applicants that this controversial event demanded the inclusion of different perspectives and – more importantly – that those perspectives be respected.

There were reasons the protestors were killed at Kent State and all the evidence and every principle – especially the memories of the victims – must be included when available. The greatest gift any historian can receive is an eye witnesses to an event as well as the consequences that shaped the policies that followed.

The board concluded, due to the complexity of the controversy over the excessive force used on protesting American citizens, the nomination is incomplete without the involvement of people like Mary Ann Vecchio. For the first time in Vecchio’s life, she feels like she was heard by agents of the government: a government that – until now – had only failed her.

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An article by Richard Cohen published October 14, 1979 in The Washington Post … found again in the Krause family archive 37 years later

IMG_4303Soon I shall come to Henry Kissinger and David Frost and William Shawcross and all the rest who are arguing about what America did or did not do in Cambodia. First, though, I want to say something about a girl named Allison Krause. She deserves to be mentioned.

I had forgotten about her. She was only 19 when she died and the truth of the matter is that I never knew her. She went to a school outside Washington, and the day after she died I went up there and talked to her teachers and the students and then wrote a story about a girl – one of the four students – who died at Kent State University.

The teachers talked about her looks. She was extraordinarily pretty – sweet and pretty. She was a good student and well-mannered, but always the teachers came back to how pretty she was. Even the women said that. Allison Krause must have been one stunning girl. She died protesting the American Invasion of Cambodia.

AllisonFlowersAreBetterMemeNow, once again, I’m looking for her picture. It’s on my desk along with newspaper clippings about Cambodia and the book, “Sideshow” by William Shawcross and all the stuff about Henry Kissinger and David Frost. They have been arguing, the three of them, about who was responsible for what – everything from the secret bombings of Cambodia back to 1969 to the sad state of the country today. Once again, Kissinger is winning the debate.

What he has managed to do is turn this all into an argument over tactics or strategy — military and diplomatic – and not about law and morality. As a result, the debate is conducted in the language of overseas cables. We are supposed to care when and where Prince Norodom Sihanouk may or may not have indicated that he not only knew of the secret bombings (how could he have not?) and acquiesced (how could he have not?).

“We kept the raid secret,” Kissinger wrote in a letter of the British magazine, The Economist, “because we wanted to gear our response to Sihanouk’s and to protect his position. We were prepared to acknowledge if Sihanouk protested – which he did not.” In the same letter Kissinger writes, “Throughout, Sihanouk only did not protest: he publicly disclaimed any objection to American bombing in areas annexed to the North Vietnamese and asserted that Cambodians had been killed.”

So what it came down to for Kissinger was an attempt to protect Sihanouk from suffering excruciating political embarrassment had the secret American bombings of his country become known. In other words, the question remains whether the bombing and the subsequent American invasion of Cambodia were militarily justified.

What you get from Shawcross, however, is another point of view entirely. He’s willing to argue the military stuff with Kissinger and to tangle with him diplomatically. But he also points out the bombings were secret, probably illegal. This attempt to keep the American people in the dark led to wiretapping of 17 persons, including newsmen, in order to find out who had leaked the story to The New York Times. This was the process – a lie followed by an abuse of power – that led inexorably to Watergate.

What matters more than whether Sihanouk knew he was pounding his country literally back into the Stone Age is the fact that the American people did not. They were being told of Vietnamization and troop reduction – of peace efforts and secret plans to end the war. They were not told of the bombings. They were not only not told of the bombings, they were lied to.

The Air Force kept a double set of books, to disguise the raids. If you asked for the books, you got the phony ones. The Air Force, to its credit, made no exceptions. It lied to Congress, too.

Even as late of 1970, the administration clung to the lie. Richard Nixon, in announcing the invasion of Cambodia, said the United States “scrupulously respected” the neutrality of Cambodia. As for Kissinger, he turned away from the protest of his aides by calling them, more or less, yellow: “Your view represents the cowardice of the Eastern establishment.”

Through it all, Kissinger argues tactics and strategy and the mumbo jumbo of diplomacy. It is important for him to prove that Sihanouk approved of the secret bombings and that they were militarily justified. The fact remains, though, the American people did not know; that Kissinger, in his contempt for us and his conviction that he knew best, never let us in on the secret. And he never concedes to this day that it would have been best had he and his boss, Richard Nixon, consulted with the American people before taking us into Cambodia. Cambodia might have suffered any way.

But Allison Krause might still be alive.

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A 2016 Memorial Day read by Tim Martin, Eureka Times Standard

Vietnamese women and children crouch taking cover from Viet Cong fire at Bao Trai near Saigon 1/1/66 > AP Photo/Horst Faas

There will never be a day when the Vietnam War is not on my mind. It was one of the worst mistakes America has ever made. Vietnam was fought for big money interests and promoted under the guise of nationalism. The war should have taught us a humbling lesson, but we let it slip away. Peace has become the enemy of corporate-run America. Our nation is accustomed to viewing life through the crosshairs of a rifle scope. We are a society in search of constant battle.

Over the past 50 years Americans have been spoon-fed whatever revisionist propaganda about Vietnam our leaders want us to hear. Their lies have kept us from understanding the truth: the war in Southeast Asia was immoral and unjust, a brutality akin to slavery and the genocide of the American Indian. Vietnam produced a realization in me that, much like the British redcoats who once tried to destroy our freedom, I had fought on the wrong side.

I am a veteran who would like to apologize to the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for my part in the war. I joined the U.S. Navy in 1966 to battle a nation that had been in a prolonged struggle to free itself from foreign domination. The Vietnamese defeated the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. In 1945 they declared themselves independent from France. They wanted only what America’s Founding Fathers wanted: liberty and independence.

In 1965 the U.S. sent an army to Vietnam to battle a new revolutionary nationalist movement called the National Liberation Front (the Viet Cong). Our soldiers were told that all struggles for national liberation were USSR- or China-led “Communist conspiracies.” That was a lie. The Vietnam War was a pointless exercise in destruction. Americans were ordered to burn Vietnamese villages, destroy large areas of the countryside, and kill as many enemy fighters as possible. Our military dropped napalm and cluster bombs and sprayed people with herbicides. The results were death and injury, lifelong illness and genetic mutation.

The suffering did not end with the liberation of Saigon in 1975.

Author Edward Tick, known for his groundbreaking work with Vietnam veterans, wrote a book called “Fallen Leaves, Broken Lives.” He collected statistics by searching history books, newspapers, and archives, and interviewing survivors and scholars throughout the United States and Southeast Asia. Here is what he discovered:

During the course of the war 2.5 million Vietnamese were killed, 4 million were wounded and 250,000 went missing in action. There have been 67,000 people maimed and 50,000 post-war deaths because of unexploded bombs and mines in Vietnam. Post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide numbers are unknown, but there are an estimated 3 million disabled street people in Vietnam.

The environmental damage was enormous, ranging from devastated forests to gasoline-poisoned rice fields. The U.S. bombing in Vietnam (approximately 8 billion pounds worth) was four times more than during World War II. Over 5,778 Vietnamese villages, 15,100 bridges, 2,923 high schools and universities, 1,500 maternity hospitals and 484 churches were destroyed or damaged. Agent Orange-related deformities still occur at the rate of 35,000 a year. (11.7 million gallons of the deadly chemical were sprayed over the countryside.)

I wish the Vietnam War could have ended with some form of introspection and reconciliation on our part, but America’s leaders were (and still are) out to lunch. We have become an enormous military camp intent on creating new enemies and wreaking havoc around the world. The U.S. has reached the point where warfare no longer requires victory. Our failures are self-inflicted. The military industrial complex is a parasite on this country, and our politicians treat young soldiers like expendable assets.

There is some good news: Americans are growing immune to our government’s attempts to propagandize faux patriotism into a good and necessary thing. We are learning that war is rarely about a “moral higher ground.” U.S. citizens are finally beginning to understand that our addiction to battle is a symptom of the sickness that pervades us.

Time does not heal all wounds, but owning the truth is a small step forward.

As a nation we are seriously flawed. Our military is deep in the blood of millions of innocents. My participation in the Vietnam War was a terrible mistake. I hope the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia will forgive me. As for the untruthful leaders of this country, no apology will be forthcoming. Their eyes are already locked on the next atrocity ahead.

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May 17, 2016 A college essay written by Kimberly March

DSC00159When I first chose to write this paper on Laurel Krause, I was expecting it to be just like any other short research paper on a human being. Read up on their accomplishments, read some interviews, look up different articles, et cetera, et cetera. Little did I know that I would have the wonderful opportunity to sit down and have a phone conversation with Laurel herself. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon on May 1st when I decided to make the call – I had been mulling over the decision as to when to call since hearing back from Laurel. I was extremely nervous to call and make a fool of myself.

Laurel Krause is the younger sister of Allison Krause, one of the young college students killed in the 1970 shooting at Kent State University. The massacre, performed by National Guardsmen, occurred at an anti-war protest held on campus soon after President Nixon announced the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. It is still, to this day, unconfirmed who gave the orders for the Guardsmen to shoot at the unarmed students, or if there was an order at all. No charges were brought upon anybody, nobody took responsibility, and nobody ever apologized for the tragedy. Arthur Krause, Laurel and Allison’s father, continued fighting for more information for the rest of his life, filing lawsuit after lawsuits all the way to the Supreme Court. The immeasurable trauma thrust upon the Krause family and the friends and family of all involved in the shooting was never resolved or given any type of closure.

However, I do not want to spend this entire paper focusing on the horrific things that happened because of the Kent State shootings. I want to focus on Laurel Krause, a peace-seeker/creator, activist, and friend. My first impression of Laurel was how humble she is – she was shocked that I chose her to write my paper about. I had no idea what to expect, and I could not have been more relieved to find that I was talking to a real person on the other end of the phone. One thing that she said to me during our two-hour conversation that eased my nerves was, “My name Laurel and I’m not a ma’am. I’m an anarchist trained by Howard Zinn and sister of Allison, but I am very much a, y’know, a human being and I’m right at the same place-level that you’re at. And I absolutely want to be that way.”

Laurel and I talked about a slew of different topics. The main topics I want to focus on are the overall idea of creating our own peace and the Allison Center for Peace, located on the Mendocino Coast in California. We talked about the government and how they have formed our society into a society that has lost hope. “Our world is a traumatized world…How is it serving them that we don’t heal this wound?” There have been so many government-led tragedies – the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State are only two. Laurel says, “I think the strongest card we’ve got is to actually live happily in peace. And let’s just get on with it.” The government will not give us the power to be able to foresee ourselves living happily. They will not allow us to heal the wounds of trauma that they have inflicted, because as soon as they do, they have lost some of the control they worked so hard to build. We then began talking about the Allison Center for Peace. This will be a peace destination – the Mendocino Coast location hopefully being one of the many across the nation in the future. A “peace capital”, of sorts, where the business of peace is examined and safe renewable resources and low radiation organic farming are present. Laurel graciously invited me to come out and visit the Center someday if I have the means, and I certainly intend on taking her up on that.

Laurel, along with the help of her co-founder Emily Aigner Kunstler and the rest of the dedicated team, started up the Kent State Truth Tribunal in 2010. “The Krause family founded the Kent State Truth Tribunal in order to reveal the truth and establish a clear and correct historical record from the collective voices of Kent State (TruthTribunal.org). The Tribunal is comprised of almost one hundred interviews with family, friends, survivors, and witnesses of the Kent State shootings, which will all be archived and available to be streamed on the Truth Tribunal website. Laurel told me that she has come to terms with the fact that she will not see justice for Allison in her lifetime – “I’m not a fool.” However, because she has documented everything, it will all be available for them when it is deemed relevant again.

There were indeed some deep conversation topics, but there were a lot of laughs and coinciding opinions and feelings of peace and happiness. Laurel and I had a great time speaking of the Goddess emerging and peace being possible if we find our own peace. We spoke of buffoons in politics and Howard Zinn coming through her in our conversation with positivity and light. I look forward to my next correspondence or phone conversation with Laurel, for I feel I have gained a wonderful new friend. It was refreshing to have a long-winded conversation with somebody as an equal on a level playing field. Although my instincts and respectful reflex will urge me to call Laurel ma’am the next time we speak, I will definitely make sure that I do not.

I close this piece with an uplifting point. “Change must come from the young people.” If young people in my generation do not speak up against the man and demand a better, more peaceful tomorrow, we will not get it. On the flip side, that means that as young people in this country and world, we have the power to make a difference. We have the power to mold our future. The government is not going to simply give us the peace and happiness that we want – so let’s create it. Let’s heal the trauma that has been inflicted on us and move on together. We have the means and we have each other. It is time that we take what is rightfully ours. It is time for peace.

References

“Laurel Krause.” Telephone interview. 1 May 2016.

“About Section.” Kent State Truth Tribunal. Web. 3 May 2016.

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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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