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— A quote from Stephanie D. Smith, career officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), named by KSU President Beverly Warren to chair the Kent Massacre 50th anniversary Commemoration Advisory Committee for May 4, 2020

By Mike Alewitz, May 21, 2019

Full disclosure:  I was a student antiwar and socialist activist who witnessed the bloodshed of May 4, 1970, when friends and fellow activists were gunned down by Ohio National Guardsmen at Kent State University.  

The appointment of a former CIA kingpin, Stephanie D. Smith, is an affront to the memory of the martyrs of the Kent and Jackson State Massacres and the millions of people that protested the war in Vietnam.

According to a KSU press release, Smith, now an associate professor in Kent’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, “will be a leader in creating, planning and executing all commemoration events, as well as overseeing plans and work with the May 4th Task Force, May 4 families and survivors and Kent State students, staff and faculty.”

Smith has been tasked to “work with the President’s Office and other groups to execute national and global May 4 projects for the commemoration.”

WHO IS CIA OPERATIVE STEPHANIE SMITH?

Stephanie D. Smith was a high-level supervisor of the CIA who retired in 2011, after 25 years of loyal service to the agency.

According to the university, “As a Senior Intelligence Service executive in the CIA, Smith led thousands of employees; designed and managed programs worth several billion dollars; interacted regularly with Congress; and traveled extensively, including throughout two war zones (Afghanistan and Iraq). She was selected as a member of CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service in 2000 and achieved its highest rank.”

Smith served as Executive Director for Administration at the National Security Council under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

In 2003 she was a part of the leadership team when Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft planned out and implemented the use of waterboarding, sleep deprivation, forced nudity, sexual assault and other methods of torture used extensively against innocent civilians in Iraq and other locations.

After assisting Rice, Smith was suddenly elevated to Director of the CIA Directorate of Support, the largest section of the CIA, under Executive Director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo.

“I was promoted at a speed that astounded even me…in the process, I came to live by a standard, ‘Get there first and clean up your road kill later,’ Smith said. “If you had observed me during a typical work day, you would never have been able to tell I was a Christian woman,” she added.

In 2008, Dusty Foggo was indicted for illegally steering millions of dollars in CIA contracts to a friend. In the course the investigation, it turns out that he had his mistress (alleged to be Smith) hired to a $100,000 a year job, which explains Smith’s sudden good fortune. She avoided prison by turning state’s evidence against Foggo, after he dumped her for another mistress.

Smith seems remarkably lucky at landing plum jobs – including a professorship at Kent, without having the usually required PhD.

After Foggo was cleared out, Smith ended up at the Counterterrorism Communications Center where she reported to Undersecretary Karen Hughes who “was responsible for trying to polish the image of the US overseas in the wake of the Iraq war and the damaging Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.”

And Amy Reynolds, dean of the College of Communication and Information, has the temerity to describe Smith as someone who “cares deeply about what May 4 means to Kent State, to history, to the First Amendment, to activism, to civil discourse, to our students and to the future.”

Smith’s job was cleaning up after the torturers. Out of all the faculty, staff and students that have shown themselves to value human life, this is the person that outgoing President Beverly Warren and incoming President Todd A. Diacon chose to head the commemoration honoring those that fell fighting for peace.

There is nothing accidental about the appointment – it is a message to all that Kent State University is going to spend a year sanitizing the events of May 4, 1970.

WHAT IS THE CIA?

If doing public relations for torturers doesn’t creep you out, it’s worth reviewing what the CIA really does – not the fictional TV version where the good guys capture evil terrorists, but the real story of billions of our tax dollars going to fund death squads, fundamentalist militias and militarist thugs. Stephanie Smith decided to spend her career glorifying them.

In all the world, few organizations are as feared and hated as the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Its sole purpose is to protect global profits for the US ruling class – it is unmatched as a ruthless, terrorist organization.

The CIA has not only been directly responsible for the torture and death of untold thousands of innocent people, it trains and installs the most sadistic henchmen of the world’s bloodiest dictators.

The CIA’s grisly history includes the overthrow of democratically elected governments in places like Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia and the Congo – and the installation and buttressing of the world’s most brutal torture states.

Today, as US warships steam towards Iran, it useful to consider Operation Ajax. This was a US organized coup that replaced the democratically-elected leader of Iran, Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, because of his plans to nationalize the oil industry. Mossadegh was replaced with the Shah, ushering in decades of mass torture.  Covert operations and inhuman sanctions continue to this day.

The CIA orchestrated direct military assaults in numerous countries, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. During the Vietnam War, the CIA initiated Operation Phoenix, a program that targeted thousands of Vietnamese civilians for assassination, rape, kidnapping and torture.

The CIA has targeted numerous popular leaders for extralegal assassination, including Fidel Castro, Rafael Trujillo and Patrice Lumumba.

In Central America, the CIA was involved in cocaine trafficking to benefit the right-wing terrorist Contras in Nicaragua and promoted fascist Death Squads in El Salvador and Honduras.

Congressional hearings in 1976, revealed that the CIA had been bribing journalists and editors for years.

As we can see by the numerous coups being orchestrated right now in Venezuela, the dirty tricks of the CIA have never stopped – they went on under Smith’s tenure and they are going on now.

WHAT HAPPENED AT KENT

On May 4, 1970, forty-nine years ago, at Kent State University, National Guardsmen fired a barrage of 67 bullets – killing four students and wounding nine more.

In some ways, the atmosphere leading up to the bloodshed is similar to today – with an isolated and increasingly unhinged President engaged in undermining the press and lying to the public.

On April 30th of that year, President Richard Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia – a major escalation of the war in Southeast Asia.   His action sparked widespread outrage. At Kent State, a series of protests, rallies and events took place, including the torching of the ROTC building, a dilapidated wooden structure scheduled for demolition, under suspicious circumstances.

Using that event as a pretext, Governor James Rhodes ordered the Ohio National Guard to occupy the campus. Over the next two days, students were chased, bayoneted and clubbed by guardsmen, tear gas inundated the campus and helicopters with searchlights hovered overhead at night.

Nixon branded the student protesters as “bums.” Rhodes called them “worse than the brown shirts…we will use whatever force necessary to drive them out of Kent!” These inflammatory remarks laid the groundwork for repression.

On May 4, we gathered to protest the war and the military occupation of our university. Guardsmen, armed with live ammunition and firing tear-gas canisters, advanced on the peaceful group. We ran away, but the Guard continued the barrage.

Our gathering was dispersed, and the soldiers began to march away. Suddenly, without provocation, a group of Guardsmen spun around and fired their weapons.

We looked about in disbelief – the victims were unarmed and nowhere near the troops. Allison Krause, who had proudly marched in previous demonstrations, was 330 feet away from the nearest Guardsman, when she was fatally gunned down. A friend, Sandy Scheuer, was 390 feet away, walking to class. She was shot through the neck and killed. Another friend, Robbie Stamps, was almost 500 feet away when wounded.

Four young people lay dead: Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder, Sandy Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller. Among the nine wounded, Dean Kahler was paralyzed for life.

The killings at Kent were followed ten days later with a police barrage of bullets into a dormitory at Jackson State in Mississippi. James Earl Green and Phillip Lafayette Gibbs were gunned down and an unknown number of others were wounded. The African-American victims at Jackson did not receive the same attention as Kent.

GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT

To this day, the extent of government involvement in the massacre has never been fully explored. Among the many photos of May 4 are those of a paid FBI informant, Terry Norman, holding a pistol – he is in the crowd. His presence has never been fully explained – the truth of the massacre at Kent remains hidden in the fog of war.

For 49 years the truth has been covered up by the KSU administration, the state and federal governments. This has been a bipartisan effort including both Democratic and Republican politicians at the highest levels of government.

The ROTC building was burned under mysterious circumstances. An armed FBI informant was present. As was later revealed, the FBI was conducting massive and widespread disruption of the anti-war movement through its COINTELPRO program. We know that Lyndon B. Johnson authorized the CIA to undertake its own program of spying on US citizens – Operation Chaos.

The failure to seriously investigate these circumstances constitutes a cover up. We can and should demand an impartial investigation into these events – it’s never too late. We may never know all, but the struggle to find the truth will serve to educate and act as a brake for similar repression.

The warmakers and their academic-administrative toadies fear the truth. They want to continue the coverup of the killings at Kent and Jackson. They want to rewrite the history of US atrocities in Vietnam and around the world – so they may continue to advance their own economic policies of global plunder.

They require the ongoing massacre of the truth.

THE DEBATE AT KENT

Although the press has not yet covered it, there are plenty of people outraged about the appointment of Stephanie Smith. This is not just about the individual – it is about what she represents.

Not only have the events of one day, May 4,  been covered up – the larger history of Kent has been re-written as well. The mass anti-war movement, which mobilized thousands of KSU students, along with millions more across the country, has been largely removed from the commemoration programs, exhibits, books and articles.

The demands of our movement:  Bring the troops home now!  War machine off campus! Free all political prisoners! Money for jobs and education, not war!  These and other slogans that expressed our aspirations have been disappeared.

The history of militant student anti-war protest has been airbrushed away.  The murders have become a “tragic event” devoid of political content. The commemoration is not about honoring the martyrs that fought against imperialist slaughter – instead it is about looking inward, learning to communicate and having prayers to prevent such unfortunate events in the future.

“Don’t Mourn – Organize”has become “Mourn – Don’t Organize.”

The attempts to suppress and coopt history are hardly unexpected. In capitalist America, colleges and universities are tied to the government through webs of personnel, research, funding, etc. The idea that the KSU administration is an agent of change is wishful thinking.

MAY 4 TASK FORCE

For many years, the May 4 Task Force (M4TF), a student group, organized the yearly commemorations – at times waging important struggles to preserve the memory of the massacre, such as opposing the building of a gymnasium over the shooting site. They did much to educate the student body and keep the memory of May 4 alive.

However, M4TF largely excluded representatives from the mass anti-war organizations – the Student Mobilization Committee Against the War (SMC) was the country’s largest antiwar group and constituted the left wing of the movement – demanding immediate and complete withdrawal of all US forces from Southeast Asia.

The Cleveland Area Peace Action Coalition (CAPAC), the National Peace Action Coalition (NPAC), the New Mobilization Coalition (MOBE) were the central organizations that organized the mass demonstrations and reached out to the working class in trade unions, in the oppressed nationalities and into the armed forces.

These coalitions, that organized millions of people into anti-imperialist actions, were marginalized and excluded from May 4 events and history.

Fantasy histories were invented to fit the needs of a corporate education.  One was that Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and a small group of radicals heroically led a rebellion against the war. It’s true that SDS was a group of radical-minded activists with many dedicated individuals. It called the first march on Washington against the war in 1964 – an important action that broke with the generally pacifist anti-war movement by naming a specific imperialist war.

But 1964 was the last time that SDS, as a national organization, supported a unified national demonstration – opting instead for small-group civil disobedience and individual acts of resistance.

Despite its national abstention, at Kent there were many SDSers that, as individuals, played an invaluable role in educating and mobilizing for mass demonstrations like the 1969 Moratoriums that resulted in thousands of KSU students participating in marches and rallies.

But by creating this mythological history, it removes the participation of thousands of Kent students from antiwar actions. It attempts to make us observers, instead of participants.

Before the shootings on May 4, thousands of KSU marched in anti-war and civil liberties demonstrations. They, and millions like them, changed the course of history.

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY

The leading figure in the M4TF over the past decades is Alan Canfora, who was shot in the wrist on May 4. He was famously seen waving a black flag at the Guardsmen. Canfora deserves credit for his many years of work on behalf of the M4TF, the families and victims of the shooting.

Canfora is a longtime Democratic Party official in Barberton, Ohio – a Clinton supporter in the center-right of the party. Regarding the development of a left wing in the party, he states his views forthrightly on his Facebook page:

“Putin and his bitches: Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Jill Stein. All hail Putin, mastermind of world politics, now it’s clear he owns Bernie, The Donald and Jill.” 

Through longevity and consistent self-promotion, Canfora established himself as the leading voice of M4TF, along with his sister Roseann “Chic” Canfora, an adjunct professor and colleague of Stephanie Smith in the School of Journalism, as well as a small coterie of liberal supporters of Democratic Party candidates.

More than anything, this grouping is insistent that any questioning about possible covert governmental involvement in the massacre be dismissed as conspiratorialist – because it raises the responsibility of the Democratic Party in the decades-long cover-up.

None of this has ever mattered much until now. I believe they are making a profound mistake by aligning themselves with the CIA and KSU administration.

The M4TF, which previously had a symbiotic relationship with KSU, has now relinquished complete control of the commemoration and handed it over to the administration. For their part, the administration is attempting to co-opt a handful of M4TF activists – rewarding them with invitations to dine with President Beverly Warren and the trustees, attend meetings, be part of a corporate speaker’s bureau and get some public attaboys.

It was after taking control of the commemoration, and with key M4TF leaders on board, Warren promptly named CIA agent Smith to head up the commemoration.

KSU is attempting to promote itself as a leading research institution – the appointment of Smith is a message to corporate, military and government officials that KSU is open for business and will not be bothered by pesky remembrances of the antiwar movement.

STONEWALLING AND EXCUSES

To date, KSU administrators have not responded to demands that Smith be dumped – leaving defense of the CIA to the Democratic Party clique. Despite very fundamental political disagreements, it saddens me to see some of these activists left holding the bag to defend the CIA, no small task. So far, the justifications of those that defend the CIA operative are these:

Justification: You don’t know her, I do, and she is a good person.

Not all CIA officials are right-wing ideologues. The CIA has often adopted a mantle of progressive politics, even expressing a wish to help groups – that is how they infiltrate unions, student groups and other left organizations. For example, this was how liberal feminist icon Gloria Steinem was recruited to spy on radical activists in Europe.

There are CIA snoops that are nice, personable and funny – just as there are generals, arms dealers and warmakers that seem nice, personable and funny. Henry Kissinger was considered a charmer in the 70s – he dated Hollywood starlets.

Justification: You are not from Kent or have not been involved in the May 4 Task Force, so your opinion doesn’t matter.

After the shootings in 1970, you could already see a cottage industry beginning to grow up around the massacre. There was the emergence of Kent “experts,” most of whom had been marginally involved in the antiwar movement, if at all.

Knowledge of the on-the-ground May 4 events is important, but the broader context of the war and the antiwar movement is critical. Pandering to “experts” and baiting movement activists that have moved on with their lives and do not relate directly to the campus is counter-productive.

To their credit, and as recently documented in Tom Grace’s book about the Kent Massacre, many activists of the time became active in the emerging social movements of the 70s until today – working in solidarity with struggles in Central America, in the Iraq anti-war movement, in the feminist movement and a myriad of other social justice issues.

May 4 does not belong to any one group. The children in Cuba that named their school The Martyrs of Kent School are part of our movement.  The people that participated in the Kent Truth Tribunal are part of it. The anti-war activists that sponsor Kent events around the country are part of it.  The millions of people that protested the massacre over all these years are part of it.

The young person that got involved just yesterday is part of it – perhaps most importantly of all. The history of the working class and its allies belongs to the class as a whole.

Justification: We’ve been part of the commemoration activities for a long time so you should trust us.

The history of the labor and other social movements has continually shown us that blind trust has no place in the movement or in the university. People change.  Groups change. Regardless of past accomplishments, you should be judged by what you say and do now.

Justification: I am a victim/survivor/family/witness, so I get to decide, and I like Stephanie Smith.

No, you are due consideration like everyone else.

In my travels as an agitprop muralist, I’ve seen the result of CIA initiated embargoes, sanctions, sabotage, dirty tricks and US military actions in places like Nicaragua, Cuba, Iraq and Palestine.

Hundreds of thousands of children and elderly have died for lack of medications because of economic sanctions. The mothers of Venezuela or Iran or a dozen other countries whose children suffer and die because of the CIA are also victims. The countless torture casualties in places like Nicaragua are victims. Would you tell them how nice the CIA lady is?

The martyrs of the anti-war and anti-racist movements deserve better than the grotesque mockery of a representative of the repressive apparatus officiating at the commemoration.

This will not go away. We would not be silenced in 1970 and we will not be silenced now.

While it is unfortunate that some individuals have decided to align themselves with the KSU administration and the CIA, keep in mind that they are not responsible for the CIA recruitment on campus or the appointment of Smith.

It is outgoing President Beverly Warren, incoming President Todd A. Diacon and the Board of Trustees that are responsible for this travesty and must be held to account.

THE 1970 NATIONAL STUDENT STRIKE

The KSU administration has purportedly earmarked $2m for an extensive, yearlong series of activities about May 4. It is unlikely that the festivities will honor the true legacy of the antiwar movement and how it transformed society.

The shootings at Kent sparked an unprecedented national student strike – hundreds of thousands of students stopped business as usual. At least 400 campuses were struck – many were occupied, and students began to form strike councils to take control of the universities.

Students began meeting, discussing, debating, creating and using their campuses as a base for organizing – reaching deep into the heart of the country with their anti-war message. We provided support to the thousands of active-duty anti-war GIs that became a key factor in ultimately compelling the US to withdraw from Southeast Asia.

On May 7, 1970, at a Washington, D. C. press conference, I gave a statement on behalf of the Kent Student Mobilization Committee (SMC), along with strike leaders from Berkeley, Wayne State, Case Western Reserve and Tufts. We called for it to be introduced and adopted in student strike councils across the nation. It read in part:

We call on the campus communities now in control of campus facilities to maintain that control and to preserve the broadest student-faculty unity in the face of all attempts to divide them.

We call on the campus communities that have not yet taken control of their campus facilities to do so and to join with their sisters and brothers across the country in utilizing the facilities to mobilize non-campus communities against the war.

We call on the united campus communities to reach out into all communities- into the neighborhoods, the labor unions, the Afro-American and other Third World organizations, the churches and synagogues, the women’s groups, the political associations, the military installations – and organize the new, united antiwar movement that will have the power to actually compel an end to the killing abroad as well as at home. 

That proposal for mass actions and occupations stood in stark contrast to calls for individual resistance or toothless electoral activity.  Instead, it advanced a national course of action to fundamentally challenge the power of the warmakers.

We were fighting for the empowerment of students and workers.  That history is unlikely to be included in the 2020 May 4 events.

THE STRUGGLE AHEAD

The decade-long struggle over Vietnam proved that only a massive movement could end the war.  Then, as now, peace did not come from a government that is without compassion or vision – wars and occupations cannot be ended by a timid and impotent legislature that continues to fund the war machine.

Today, the “resistance” of Democratic Party officials is a toothless sound bite. The “progressive” candidates talk peace while voting to fund US military adventures abroad. They cover up their support to the war on workers abroad by giving lip service to some tepid reforms here at home.

Over the next year, there will not only be numerous commemorative events about Kent. Millions of dollars were also allocated to the Pentagon by the Obama White House to commemorate the war in Vietnam. These millions will be utilized to obscure the truth about U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia and repression here at home.

The real history of the genocidal war will be suppressed. There will be little place for truth, or even facts. The unprecedented assault on Julian Assange should remind us how much the warmakers fear the truth.

Fifty years have passed, and the stakes facing working people are greater than at any time in human history. Today, along with rising nationalism and permanent war, we face nothing less than the extinction of our species in a carbon-based nightmare of climate change denial. 

As in 1970, our hope for a more peaceful future lies with our own empowerment. Protests continue against US wars and occupations, environmental destruction, racism and sexism. Millions of immigrants have shed their invisibility in a great new movement for civil and human rights.

Only international solidarity can put an end to the insanity of corporate greed. Only working people can halt the warmakers, by organizing a massive movement to demand an end to the lies and an end to the bloodshed.

The way to honor the martyrs of Kent and Jackson is to end the cover up of the massacres and to continue the struggle for peace and social justice. The true memorial must be in the streets!

END ALL U.S. WARS AND OCCUPATIONS!

HANDS OFF VENEZUELA AND IRAN!

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

MONEY FOR EDUCATION, NOT WAR!

WAR MACHINE OFF CAMPUS!

– – – – – – – – – – – –

Mike Alewitz/ May 21, 2019

Mike Alewitz was the founder and Chairman of the Kent Student Mobilization Committee Against the War in Vietnam (SMC).  He was an eyewitness to the murders and a leader of the national student strike which followed.

Alewitz has remained a lifelong labor and social justice activist.  He is Professor Emeritus of Mural Painting at Central CT State University.

– – – – – – – – –

Appointment of Stephanie Smith: http://bit.ly/2JrmSGU

Biography of Stephanie Smith: http://bit.ly/2VmCPFR

Remembering the Kent State and Jackson State massacres: http://bit.ly/2PAXtMc

CIA Official to Chair Commemoration: http://bit.ly/2HfOb4y

Interview with Stephanie Smith: http://bit.ly/2QbZM8C

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May 4, 2019 by Carlos Jones

“Tell me how on earth could it be justified

for heartless men to have taken those innocent lives

and how many more tears do we have to cry

before our hearts are all wrung dry

leaving only us to ask the question why?

oh why?”  from the song, Truth & Justice (Kent State) by Carlos Jones

Good afternoon everyone,

My name is Carlos Jones. I am a musician. I live in Cleveland, Ohio – Shaker Heights to be exact. I’m here today at the request of the family of Allison Beth Krause, to speak for her as we commemorate the 49th year since that particular tragedy.

At first, when asked to do this, I questioned my qualification to do so, as some might – after all, I did not know her… I was not there. I was 12 years old at the time, doing the things that a 12 year old kid, living a quiet and comfortable life in the suburbs might do. Of course, I had been growing up in a time when the news of many horrors and tragedies brushed up against my budding awareness. I knew that people who tried to do good could be assassinated, taken out: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy’s deaths were all a part of my recent inventory of knowledge.

I knew about the ongoing legacy of slavery and the struggle for equality and civil rights, through which my parents and their ancestors had lived, and that so many were still living. And it was almost as if we were to accept those things as a matter of course. We were taught in school about the glorified wars of our mighty nation, and all of the heroes who helped to bring us to our status as a noble and benevolent overseer of the world. I knew about the war that was going on in Vietnam – well, what I was being told of it anyway.

There were those that were older than me, like Allison, that had questions…

From what I’ve learned of her; Allison Krause was a bright, warm, loving, caring, energetic, intelligent and free-thinking young woman who had the audacity to question the veracity of the things our government claimed to be the reason for sending thousands of our young men and women to a foreign country to never return, or to return broken in pieces, physically and mentally. She was a young woman, full of hope, full of life and promise, who had set out to further her education, to one day become a productive citizen and perhaps contribute to positive and peaceful change in our society – but she had questions…

She knew there was much unrest in the world and all around her…

She knew that there were things wrong with our country that she and her peers felt compelled to speak out against, and she also knew that there were some who took their protest to the extreme and perhaps in the wrong direction, or maybe even had a totally different agenda…

A young woman, who one day might have children of her own, that she would have to teach and guide and somehow shield from the tragic truth, until they grew old enough to discern that not all is what it seems or what you’ve been led to believe…

But that was not to be, we had men in positions of power determined to hold fast to the old way of doing things, and maintain the status quo, and saw those who wanted and demanded change as annoyances and rabble-rousers. We had a president who claimed that he was not a crook, and as it turned out, he was telling us the truth – he was worse. And because of heartless decisions made by men who saw these young people, your sons and daughters, as nothing more than bums, outlaws, and hooligans… well, no need to state the obvious – you know why we’re here.

It was beautiful day in May – unlike this one…

Allison Krause was exercising what she had always been told was her right, to protest what she felt (what she knew) was wrong, even while knowing that there could be consequences for doing such a thing – she could face arrest, retribution, brutality, perhaps even… death? No, they couldn’t possibly go THAT far, could they? She and her fellow students faced off against uniformed men with rifles, choking against clouds of tear gas.

That day – this day, in May, we were awakened to the cold hard fact that you CAN be murdered, in broad daylight, no matter WHO you are, by your own government for being disobedient, for being vocal, for being active, for being a protester. That day, a 12 year old kid felt the chill of that reality, and his childhood fell away as if shedding a skin, and he became aware that there was indeed, something terribly wrong, and there was no going back to any semblance of childlike innocence. I, like so many of you, was changed forever.

Her Father, Arthur, has long since passed, worn down in the remainder of his life by the obstinate and apathetic demeanor of a government with no pity and no remorse. Yet he fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to sue the State of Ohio, and had become a staunch advocate for the right to protest.

Her Mother, Doris, more recently passed on, lived out her final years carrying the weight of the heartbreak, sadness and loss, with no apology, no closure, no resolution whatsoever, except for a “statement of regret” and the mere token of a $15,000 legal settlement, which apparently is what a protester’s life is worth – well, according to those with the power to make those kinds of decisions. They were never able to experience any type of healing or relief from the devastation that haunted them for the rest of their lives.

We hear these words thrown about quite often; Truth, Freedom, Liberty, Justice “for ALL” (?) Pretty words, but what do they MEAN???

What is TRUTH? It would seem that we live in a time when truth is whatever the loudest voice says it is (or the ones with the most money). The concept of truth has lost its weight, its value. This is the age of alternative facts. We have to ask ourselves; has it always been this way?

And JUSTICE – now there’s a slippery one… as elusive as trying to grab smoke.

We’re led to believe that it is an absolute thing, but unfortunately we’ve seen and we have learned that it is NOT equal and it is NOT easily attainable.

Someone asked me recently; “why are we here?” And I answered without even really thinking about it; “I think we were put here to plant flowers”…

By that, I mean that it’s up to each person, who is inclined to do so, to try and add more Beauty to a world that is too often marred by ugliness, to shine more Light in times when the darkness threatens to surround and swallow us up, to Love more fearlessly and ferociously in a time when hatred rears its head and wants to divide us, to help each other Heal from our past hurts and hostilities, and try to become our better selves.

That is why I’m here…

I tried to think of what Allison might say if she were here today, had she been spared – I think she most certainly would be here, talking to you, instead of me.

Who am I to speak for her? The question is more; who am I NOT to? She is MY sister, and she is YOUR sister, maybe not by blood but by the common humanity we all share. It could have been anybody that day – your brother, your sister, the woman or man who would become your mother or father. The government-issued bullets that found their deadly mark that day were lethal, uncaring and indiscriminate, and brought only violence, pain and death.

So, I’d have to agree with Allison – FLOWERS ARE BETTER THAN BULLETS!!!

Carlos Jones – May 4th, 2019

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April 7, 2019 by Laurel Krause

UnitedNationsMarch2014DakwarKrause

Image by Emilia Bolin Ransom, 2014

Delighted to announce the Kent State Truth Tribunal’s United Nations submission has been included in the ‘List of Issues’ before the U.N. Human Rights Committee and will be considered at the United Nations U.S. 5th periodic review. This will be the second time Kent State massacre issues are heard before the United Nations. 🌺

For the United States 5th periodic review, the human rights issues of the May 4, 1970 Kent State massacre relate to state acts to restrict the right to protest (topic 14) and concerns for limiting excessive use of force by law enforcement (under freedom of assembly and association, topic 25). READ the U.S. ‘List of Issues’ related to the ICCPR Treaty: http://bit.ly/2I2oEOV

The United States has one year to respond to the U.N. List of Issues for the U.S. 5th periodic review yet the U.S. has historically taken its sweet time in complying with standard procedures. The U.S. 4th periodic review was supposed to convene in Geneva in October 2013 yet had to be postponed to March 2014 due to the U.S. government shutdown.

Read the 2015 Kent State Truth Tribunal report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee: http://bit.ly/1KTBGsI

This photo is from the Kent State Truth Tribunal’s first visit to the United Nations in 2014 for the U.S. 4th periodic review with Jamil Dakwar and Laurel Krause.

The Allison Center for Peace Gaia Action Network Peaceful Party

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March 8, 2019 by Laurel Krause

On International Women’s Day during Women’s History Month as I write this remembrance for my sister Allison Krause, I hope you’ll support and help us complete our work in the Kent State Truth Tribunal culminating at the 50th anniversary, May 4, 2020. We seek your backing now.

My big sister Allison was a beloved, kind, intelligent and compassionate 19-year-old honors student and protester killed on May 4, 1970 at Kent State University who stood for the cause of peace and against the Vietnam war. Like her friends, Allison questioned authority, was politically active against the war and was upset her generation was being forced to risk their lives on a wrongful war in Southeast Asia. It was President Nixon’s April 30, 1970 speech expanding the Vietnam war into Cambodia, and days later when he called students “bums,” that provoked Allison’s decision to protest on May 4th.

Seeking your tax-deductible DONATION to the Kent State Truth Tribunal through our fiscal sponsor the Institute for Media Analysis.

On May 3, 1970 in a heated exchange with Ohio National Guardsmen Allison said, “Flowers are better than bullets” and it is written on her memorial stone.

Allison’s last stand for peace at Kent State turned into a domestic military battle just after noon on the KSU Commons. As students changed classes, took lunch and protesters rallied against the war on May 4, 1970 at Kent State, the Ohio National Guardsmen opened fired with live ammunition at unarmed student protesters, many more than a football field away from the shooters, killing four and critically wounding nine. Our Allison was one of the “four dead in Ohio,” as Neil Young sang.

If you were young then, you remember where you were, the despair you felt and you probably experienced the malice hurled at so many of us. One of the sticking points for young people back then was voting rights. If you were under 21 years old in May 1970, you weren’t even legally permitted to vote either for or against the war. The killings at Kent State and 11 days later at Jackson State were seminal traumas in the personal lives of a generation and in our collective remembrance of May 1970.

If you weren’t alive back then, you probably haven’t been able to learn the truth at Kent State since the teaching of May 4, 1970 history has been censored from U.S. school curricula and existing teaching materials are still sanitized by those managing an Orwellian view of Kent State.

Since these assassinations were government-led, as they were at both Kent State and Jackson State, we saw how authorities refused accountability, denied truth and instead focused on managing the cover-ups. These killings of young American citizens and protesters, essentially at the hands of their own government, came on the heels of a decade of the tragic murders and cover-ups surrounding John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr. All of this was in the context of the struggles for civil rights, and the horrible violence of the Vietnam war, where over 58,000 Americans were killed, and the US was responsible for the deaths of 3 million Vietnamese. That war came home to kill even more innocents at Kent State. The untold history must be acknowledged with the official narratives of May 4 set right. May 4, 1970 was a day that changed America.

Seeking your tax-deductible DONATION to the Kent State Truth Tribunal through our fiscal sponsor the Institute for Media Analysis.

In 2019 the U.S. government continues to censor and harass those who seek truth while crippling proper investigations and denying credible evidence. The Kent State massacre remains at the top of the heap in this regard. When a government refuses truth, it also negates the possibility of collective and personal healing. These 48 years since Allison was killed have taught me “the path to peace is paved in truth.”

In 2010 truth burst forth in the examination of credible audio evidence, uncovering Kent State commands-to-fire isolated in expert forensic examination commissioned by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Stuart Allen examined a tape recorded on a 1970 KSU dormitory window ledge. He digitally examined the audio and heard verified Kent State commands-to-fire that had been denied for 40 years. Further studies allege COINTELPRO involved. Despite this new, earth-shaking evidence, the US Department of Justice and Kent State University reacted by ignoring it. Read Project Censored on Kent State and the forensic audio evidence, written by Mickey Huff and Laurel Krause http://bit.ly/2vherUw.

In May 2010 just as forensic expert Stuart Allen examined the Kent State tape, Emily Aigner Kunstler and I launched the Kent State Truth Tribunal. Emily, daughter of the legendary radical attorney William Kunstler and a social justice documentary filmmaker, organized pop-up recording studios honoring and recording original participants and witnesses of the Kent State massacre. We filmed more than 80 testimonials of ‘those who were there’ at three truth tribunals (Kent, San Francisco, New York), organized in the 40th anniversary year of the Kent State massacre.

Through first-person narratives, or what we call Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT) testimonials, Kunstler asked evocative, neutral questions, interviewing university professors, KSU students who survived Ohio National Guard gunfire, Kent townspeople who were in elementary school … now grown adults, wounded KSU students, family members from those who were killed and other voices from all walks of life.

  • Hear the voices of the Kent State massacre in this ‘Best of Flashpoints’ with Dennis J. Bernstein, Emily Aigner Kunstler and Laurel Krause on KPFA recorded August 2010, starts at ~25min. http://bit.ly/LdlALM.
  • Watch a people’s history of Kent State, heard before the Kent State Truth Tribunal and gathered from Facebook. http://bit.ly/PXeRpW

Seeking your tax-deductible DONATION to the Kent State Truth Tribunal through our fiscal sponsor the Institute for Media Analysis.

By the 50th Kent State on May 4, 2020 our aim is to launch an online archive where the Kent State Truth Tribunal archive of testimonials may be viewed individually, yet also integrated into a digital database for inquiry and search. Learning history in a whole new way from those who were there. Students, scholars and those who want to learn truth at Kent State may directly ‘search’ via an intuitive, elegant interface. Utilizing emerging digital search technologies, testimonial videos, transcripts, photographs and all sorts of media become accessible, available for study to all for free on the Internet 24/7.

To accomplish this goal we need your help! We will ready all KSTT content: final each testimonial, output into multiple formats and save/highlight the jewels for use in the creations of social media shorts. We will also process the testimonials through transcription, tagging and formatting for the digital database with a goal is to make the “people’s history” of Kent State available to all.

We’re seeking your DONATIONS to get Kent State Truth Tribunal work done. We’ve raised $6,000 towards our $35,000 goal so we’re looking at $29,000 needed to ready Kent State Truth Tribunal content and further our objectives for truth. Let’s establish and begin building the “people’s history of Kent State.”

As we approach the Kent State 50th anniversary on May 4, 2020 we have questions. Do you think it’s important to include truth in the story of Kent State? Do you want to learn truth from those who were there? Do you want Kent State truth taught to your kids, and to your kids’ kids?  We still want answers.

By contributing, you further truth and act against those who insist the Kent State massacre was merely a forgettable “unfortunate incident.”

Our commitment to Kent State truth is founded on human rights, truth, accountability and for the protection of protesters. In 2014 we took our cause before the United Nations to the US 4th periodic review where we learned that when the Ohio National Guard shot and killed protesters, their acts were an international concern in that a government is not permitted to kill protesters. International law states when protesters are killed by the state, the government must offer redress and amends to survivors.

The US government has failed to properly investigate Kent State and has offered insufficient redress or amends to any of the Kent State survivors despite admitting, “In 1970, four students were killed, were murdered.” In April 2019 the Kent State Truth Tribunal submission to participate in the United Nations 5th periodic review was accepted. We look forward to returning to the United Nations in the coming days.

Will you please join us in our quest for justice, and our demand for Kent State Truth?

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May 4, 2018, Kent, Ohio
A speech for Allison Krause, one of the four students slaughtered at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, written and spoken by Idris Kabir Syed at the 48th commemoration

This year marks my 28th commemoration. I have spoken only once for a student, Jeffrey Miller. In my younger years as a student, I thought that Jeff was the one who I had the most in common with—like him, I considered myself a young revolutionary who deeply believed in activism and civil rights. I didn’t realize how much I have in common with Allison until this year.

When Allison’s sister Laurel asked me to speak for her sister this year, I was honored and moved to tears. I realized immediately that she was entrusting me with something deeply important for her family. If there is one thing I have learned in my time working with the families of the victims of May 4th, it is that the trauma of that day lives on and has profoundly affected the families in myriads of ways, both negative and positive. My own family relationship with Kent State and May 4th (as both of my parents were on campus that fateful day) mirror this reality as well.

My relationship with the Krause family began when I was in high school. I worked for Allison’s cousin Marvin at Arabica coffee shop on Coventry in Cleveland Heights. I knew Marvin’s daughter, Allison’s cousin Jennifer and would run into her at Grateful Dead or Carlos Jones concerts and we had many mutual friends. When I went to Kent and got involved with the Task Force I met Doris, Allison’s mother, and was amazed at her grace. The first year that I met Laurel was for the 40th commemoration was not what I had hoped. It was my first year as faculty advisor when Laurel came to the last meeting of the Task Force before the 40th commemoration. In the parlance of today’s students, she was “aggro” and she let us know it. She demanded that the Task Force honor her family’s wishes and challenged us to not succumb to silencing their voices as she felt the University as a whole has done since 1970. I was stunned shocked into silence thinking we were trying to honor her and her family. I realized very quickly however, her concerns were completely valid, based in a historical relationship of trauma at Kent State University that is institutionalized here. It took me some time, but I discovered there was another, more appropriate term (which young people also use today) for Laurel, which is “woke.” Laurel is woke—woke in ways many of us don’t understand but need to recognize. I watched her tireless work with the Kent State Truth Tribunal, started by her and Emily Kunstler (daughter of the esteemed civil-rights attorney, William Kunstler) that year. That summer, I also watched countless video testimonies of people who had never quite felt comfortable sharing their story with the university, but opened themselves up to Laurel and Emily in ways that even surprised them. These stories are vital, and I hope that the University supports the efforts of the Truth Tribunal to continue to promote those stories being told. After the Obama/Holder/Perez refusal to re-open the Kent State case, Laurel then took the stories of her family and Truth Tribunal participants to the United Nations forcing the world stage to acknowledge America’s shame and murder. The Krause family is woke—whether Father Arthur, Mother Doris, Sister Laurel, or Cousin Jennifer—they were and are all woke in their own important ways. Today, I want to talk about how I think Allison was woke, and what we can still learn from her 48 years after her untimely murder.

Allison was not at Kent in 1968; she was finishing her senior year of high school in Maryland. She was against the war in Vietnam but by no means a “radical or revolutionary.” I don’t know if she knew of the killings at Orangeburg, or much of what was happening with BUS/SDS at Kent State University. The seminal part of that year seemed to be when she started to volunteer at St. Elizabeth’s Psychiatric Hospital. In the book 13 Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State, her mother remembers:

“’She used to help on a volunteer basis at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital there in Washington,’ said Doris Krause. ‘So few people could do it. She did it so well. As a mother, it was something I liked to see her do.” Allison would go off to St. Elizabeth’s, a mental hospital, and visit with the patients. Often she would play basketball with the men. They were patients that society had long for­gotten. They sat there in forlorn gloom, waiting for nothing, their eyes glazed, their lives a sea of silence. Some had not had visitors for as long as thirty years.’ Richard Jaworski would ask Allison to speak of her experiences at the hospital. She told the class that the inmates would let her shoot during the basketball games, leaving her undefended with the delight of her presence and interest. When a boy in class asked if it was not dangerous to work with the patients, she replied, ‘Love, they sense it. It calms them.’ The inmates were so grateful for her attention they never considered harm, she said.

‘One day Allison returned home unusually happy; her eyes were aglow and she could not wait to tell her mother the wonderful thing that had happened at St. Elizabeth’s that day. A man had spoken to her! A man who had never spoken to anyone else for the longest time had spoken to her. It was one of the most exhilarating moments of her life. She felt that she had personally accomplished this.’”(Esterhas and Roberts, 1970)

Allison started school at Kent State in the fall of 1969; her best friend was Bonnie Henry. She also met and fell in love with her boyfriend Barry Levine and they were together until her death the following spring. They attended the National Moratorium against the War in DC that November. While Allison attended one SDS meeting, with Bonnie and Barry, she was hardly impressed or convinced by their values and priorities. She was trying to understand the larger political atmosphere; again from 13 Seconds: Confrontation at Kent State,

“At Kent the academic atmosphere and Allison’s searching curiosity pushed her deeper into the world of books. She read Kafka, the present Tom Wolfe, and Catch-22. Slowly her reading began to widen into the current political trends. She and Barry shared a political­ science class that friends say absorbed her. When the Black Panthers emerged in controversy, Allison applied her energies to satisfying her need to know. She began to believe that political repression was real and it frightened her. ‘She wanted to go to Canada and open an art gallery after school,’ Barry said. ‘We wanted to go there because of the growing political repression that we felt was increasing in this country. Things like the Chicago Seven, the Panthers, and the ineffectiveness of the Moratorium all led to her feeling of the coming and existing repression.’…When Spring came, Allison expressed her desire for the woods…’I wish there was some place where we could go and walk, some place with trees and flowers,’ she told Bonnie. ‘Some place away’…Things seemed to be going marvelously for Allison on her nineteenth birthday, on April 23. She was set for the summer and for Buffalo in the fall and most important, she had Barry. Her fifteen-year-old sister, Laurel, came up to visit her on her birthday and the following Sunday Arthur and Doris Krause drove up. Together with Barry, they ate at the Robin Hood restaurant just off campus. ‘She was so happy to get out for a meal,’ Doris Krause said. It was the last time they were to see their daughter alive.” (Esterhas and Roberts, 1970)

There are many stories and photos of Allison on May 4, 1970. Many of them are horrific and terrifying. I do not want to focus on those today. The one I think about most often is how, as she climbed the hill by the pagoda, she tore her small piece of wet cloth to help another student suffering from tear gas, shortly before she broke down in tears asking why the guard was treating them this way. Even to the end, Allison wanted to help others, to let people express themselves, whether through art or voicing dissent, she wanted to stand up for what she believed was right, fair and just. That was the way she was, woke.

In preparing for the speech, I asked Laurel if there was anything I could say for her family. She told me instead to listen to what Allison tells me and speak that truth. I went and sat at the bell late at night on April 23rd, and asked Allison how she felt on what would be her 67th birthday. She said she was sad, confused, angry, but still woke, still standing for truth and justice. She asked me a number of questions: “How could there be so many school shootings in 2018 alone? How could our society be as polarized, perhaps even worse than 48 years ago? How can so many Black people be openly killed and so few people care? How can we still be at war in the Middle East, and why don’t we care about the casualties, refugees and destruction these wars have produced? What are we doing to our mother Earth? When we will we ever learn that “flowers are better than bullets”? “Ah well.” she told me, “It is up you, Laurel, Jennifer, Samaria, and Emma Gonzalez to tell them now. I hope they finally listen.” I asked her “What can I do?” She gently reminded me with a loving smile, “Go and walk in the woods, make art, spend time with your family and mine, try to heal the wounds, love, and we will talk again.”

Idris Kabir Syed, MFA, M.Ed.
Associate Professor and Faculty Advisor to the May 4th Task Force
Kent State University, Dept. Pan-African Studies

 

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September 26, 2017, written by Howard Lisnoff, published first at CounterPunch Magazine http://bit.ly/2xDitdF

Bettman/Getty Images; Stephanie Berger

Burns and Novick want viewers to believe that the Vietnam War was a mistake undertaken by those with noble intentions in the U.S. government. We had good intentions going into Vietnam, but The Vietnam War, which aired on PBS, would like viewers to believe that the grotesque consequences of that war… millions dead and wounded… were never really intended. They were in the vernacular, unintended consequences of men with good intentions.

It’s the same kind of justification and rationalization that then secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, made in The Fog of War and it’s all bullshit plain and simple. These opinion molders want people to believe that we occasionally stumble on the way to the nirvana that is American Exceptionalism and national purity.

But they didn’t stumble and we are most certainly not exceptional. If readers want to gauge how unexceptional our “leaders” are, then look to Trump and Congress and their neoliberal facilitators. The duopoly planned the anti-communist crusade from the beginning of the Cold War until there were so many dead bodies and so much protest that the government had to walk away. It wasn’t a matter of dollars and cents, as some would like readers to believe, as this predatory system leaves lots of spare pocket change to throw away on immoral wars.

Here’s student/civil rights leader Mario Savio, of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement, only a few short months before the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that gave Lyndon Johnson carte blanche in waging his genocidal, anti-communist crusade in Southeast Asia.

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!

Those in power and their talking heads have to sanitize their past wars to make new wars palatable. Mass murder is not the natural or normal state of humankind. George Orwell grasped this concept in 1984 when his character Winston is tortured because of his individualism and humanism, and at the end of the novel he’ll say anything that the government wants him to and that includes rewriting history to agree to whichever foreign enemy the government targets. It’s the same hogwash that the neofascists and neo-Nazis are pumping out from the Trump administration in support of the trillions of dollars being stolen by the military-industrial complex. Trillions of dollars that otherwise could go to unmet human needs.

In relation to how the Vietnam War is portrayed, the left has not been asleep at the wheel. On the fortieth anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, people like the late protester, politician, and writer, Tom Hayden, spearheaded an attempt to correctly document the Vietnam War in the face of the Pentagon’s propaganda.

The group Veterans for Peace has produced the resource Vietnam: Full Disclosure to tell the truth about what the U.S. carnage was all about in Vietnam. Full Disclosure takes its rightful place in a long line of history like that disseminated by Daniel Ellsberg in the The Pentagon Papers.

This from VFP’s Vietnam Full Disclosure:

Despite the counter-cultural veneer, however, and admirable efforts to provide a Vietnamese perspective, Burns and Novick’s film in its first episode provides conventional analysis about the war’s outbreak and can be understood as a sophisticated exercise in empire denial. (“Ken Burns’s Vietnam Documentary Promotes Misleading History,” Veterans For Peace, September 18, 2017).

Full Disclosure continues: “A voice-over by Peter Coyote subsequently claims that the Vietnam War was ‘started in good faith by decent men.’”

Go to the primary and secondary sources about the war: there are enough volumes to fill a medium-size library on the war. View the 1971 Winter Soldier testimonials of Vietnam veterans in Chicago and their testimony before the U.S. Congress. Read Born on The Fourth Of July by Ron Kovic, A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan, A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo, Dispatches by Michael Kerr, Vietnam: A History by Stanley Karnow, and Four Hours in My Lai by Michael Bilton, among the many illuminating volumes of writing about the carefully planned catastrophe that was the Vietnam War.

These books will illuminate how colonialism by France and anti-communism on the part of the U.S. and its allies led to the thwarting of the Geneva Accords that called for free elections in Vietnam. They will tell how the U.S. backed murderous and unpopular regimes that tore Vietnam apart for 30 years until North Vietnam drove the forces of the South to defeat. The U.S. knew that Ho Chi Minh, leader of the North, would have won the election mandated by the Accords.

Read about the atrocities that took place in My Lai and by the rogue Tiger Force and numerous other examples of war crimes in which the military took part. The latter does not mean that a majority of soldiers took part in atrocities, but enough did to make atrocities the hallmark of the Vietnam War. Military training was fine-tuned to cast the Vietnamese people as “gooks” and “Charlie,” thus dehumanizing them and facilitating their slaughter.

Read to learn how untold numbers of veterans were thrown into the apparatus of the Veterans Administration and how the care many of those veterans received was shameful.

Learn about how tens of thousands of men and women sought refuge and sanctuary from the war in places like Canada and Sweden, where thousands remain today. Learn how the American Veterans of Foreign Wars led a campaign in 2004 to deny the people of Canada the right to erect a monument to the heroic acts of war resistance in their country by war resisters.

Dig into the history of the defoliant Agent Orange to learn how both the Vietnamese people and U.S. veterans were made to suffer the dreadful and deadly consequences of its use during the war.

Pay attention to how the Trump administration’s militarists have expanded contemporary warfare (“‘Blank Check to Kill With Impunity’: Trump to Quietly Slap Drone Restrictions,” Common Dreams, September 22, 2017). Then pay close attention when documentary makers try to sell the public a bill of goods and pass off mass atrocities and immorality as simply being careless mistakes that were carried out by well-intentioned leaders. Those “good” intentions took place during the Vietnam War and they’re taking place today. They threaten the life of every living being on Earth.

The antiwar movement has been largely inactive in the first months of the Trump administration despite the fact that this is the most bellicose administration, with the exception of the administration of George W. Bush, since the Vietnam War. Although Senator Bernie Sanders gave a speech that addressed war and the military-industrial complex at Westminster College on September 21, 2017, it wandered into assertions about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, an issue that only serves to further deteriorate relations between Russia and the U.S., and in fact feeds the very military-industrial complex that Sanders criticized in his speech.

The antiwar movement suffered self-inflicted wounds when it caught the faux hope and change rhetoric of the Obama administration and largely left the expansion of drone warfare, including targeting U.S. citizens for death without due process of the law, while expanding war in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Perhaps it was narrow self-interest, ignorance, and the effects of the September 11, 2001 attacks that were at play here, but society-wide malaise may be another factor for this inaction. Perhaps war is so prevalent and unreported that it became an excepted part of life in the U.S. Only a small segment of the population fight U.S. wars and it is almost never the man or woman next door or in a community as it was during the Vietnam War.

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and Black Panther Party leader Jamil Abdullah Al- Amin (a.k.a. H. Rap Brown) said “violence is as American as cherry pie.” It is also as American as apple pie. Now, we face the prospect of the very real threat of Armageddon because the far right has placed a bellicose moron in the White House.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

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May 2, 2017 by Laurel Krause

AllisonProtestRuffnerAs 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.

Since founding the Truth Tribunal in 2010, we 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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