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Archive for the ‘UN Human Rights Committee’ Category

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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May 4, 2014 by Julie Segraves, Examiner.com

Forty-four years ago today, on the college campus of Kent State in Ohio, four students were killed with rifle fire from the Ohio National Guard while protesting America’s expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. Ten days after Kent State, two students, James Earl Green and Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, were killed on the campus of Jackson State University by the Mississippi State Police, also for protesting the Vietnam War.

Four years after the tragic event in Ohio, eight of the Guardsmen were indicted by a grand jury for willfully violating the rights of the dead and wounded students, but the charges were dismissed because the judge said the government failed to prove its case. In 1979, each family received $15,000 and a Statement of Regret from the United States government for what happened that day, but no one was held accountable for the deaths of four students on their college campus and no apology was ever offered.

Though the United States government held hearings on the matter and determined that the Guardsmen opened fire after being spooked by what they believed was sniper fire, a copy of a tape recorded at the scene and digitized several years ago revealed that the Guard was ordered to shoot. The FBI destroyed the original recording and the Justice Department refused to reopen the case upon being informed of the new evidence.

To date, no one has been held responsible for the killing of Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder, but this year that may change.

The family of Allison Krause and Emily Kunstler, daughter of William Kunstler who defended the Chicago Seven, established the Kent State Truth Tribunal in 2010 in light of the new evidence in the form of the digitized audio tape.

On March 14, 2014, Krause’s sister Laurel, appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in its 4th Periodic Review in Geneva, Switzerland. The United States was represented by Roy L. Austin, Jr, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights.

Krause requested an “independent, impartial investigation into the May 4 Kent State massacre (Article 2 (Right to remedy); Article 6 (Right to life); Article 19 (Right to freedom of expression); Article 21 (Right to peaceful assembly)).”

The Tribunal’s submission in 2013, that led to their invitation to the 4th Periodic Review, made clear that it believes that “Failure to ensure justice and accountability for the Kent State massacre has set a precedent that the U.S. can continue to harass, abuse, and even kill protestors.”

It cites as justification for this statement that “suppression of peaceful assembly continues today. Since the Occupy movement began in 2011, protestors have been labeled as domestic terrorists by the F.B.I. and have been arrested in massive numbers for peaceful protests and assemblies.”

In an email, Krause related that at the UNHRC hearing, Roy L. Austin, Jr, referred to the deaths of the students as “murder.” Krause says she will be following up with Austin and copying the UN on all correspondence.

She is also planning to request a UN special rapporteur in extrajudicial killings.

The United States government is required, in the next year, to answer to the charges made by the Kent State Truth Tribunal. Perhaps by the next anniversary of this sorry date in American history, the families will have received justice.

For the four Kent State students, however, they found the cost of freedom, and the price was their lives.

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On March 13, 2014 the Kent State Truth Tribunal addressed the United Nations Human Rights Committee at the United States 4th Periodic Review in Geneva:

My sister Allison Krause was one of four students shot to death by American military personnel in the parking lot of her university campus at Kent State, Ohio on May 4, 1970 as she protested the Vietnam War. I was fifteen years old when this happened. I have come here today to ask that the United States be held accountable for failing to fully investigate this incident and its own complicity in the crimes that took place and to deliver justice to the victims and their families. Allison stood for peace and died for peace on May 4th.

My mother Doris Krause, now 88 years old, is not able to travel due to her failing health. Even though Mom’s not here, she helped write these words and believes in them. Our sentiments are shared by family members and by many others present at Kent State at the time of the shootings, as well as concerned citizens who have also longed for accountability for the historic, and tragic, series of events at Kent State.

For 44 years the United States government has refused to admit that four young students … children … were killed at Kent State. There has not been a credible, independent, impartial investigation into Kent State. No group or individual has been held accountable. Even in 2010 upon the emergence of undeniable, credible forensic evidence pointing to direct US government involvement, there has still not been a full accounting of the events on and near that day, and no remedy delivered to the victims.

Because of the failure of the US government to pursue accountability and deliver redress to victims, we ask the UNHRC to press the US to initiate a new investigation of Kent State, with a particular focus on the forensic evidence that emerged in 2010. The right to assemble and protest is professed as a cherished American value and is a fundamental facet of our democracy. The Kent State precedent has cast a shadow over this democracy for over 40 years. If Kent State remains a glaring example of government impunity, it sends a message that protestors, especially young men and women, can be killed by the state for expressing their political beliefs. My sister died protesting for peace and I would like to honor her memory by ensuring that this never happens to another American protestor again.

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Kent_State_massacreOn May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard fired between 61 and 67 shots into a crowd of unarmed anti-war protestors at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students and wounding nine others. My 19-year-old sister, Allison Krause, was one of four students shot to death by the Ohio National Guard in the parking lot of her university campus as she protested the Vietnam War. I was 15 years old at the time.

It has been 44 years, and the U.S. government still refuses to admit that it participated in the killing of four young students at Kent State. There has not been a credible, independent, impartial investigation into Kent State. No group or individual has been held accountable. In 2010, after undeniable forensic evidence emerged pointing to direct U.S. government involvement in the killings, Emily Kunstler and I founded the Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT). Our hope was to finally receive a full account of the tragic events and to see that the victims and their families receive redress. In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice refused to reopen the case, claiming there were “insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers.”

But justice for Allison doesn’t have to end there. To that end, we are traveling to Geneva, Switzerland, next week to demand accountability for the Kent State massacre before the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which will be reviewing U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), one of the few human rights treaties ratified by the United States.

The right to assemble and protest is a cherished American value and is a universal human right. But the United States – and so many other proclaimed democracies around the world – repeatedly and shamelessly commits gross violations of this human right. We were recently reminded of extensive U.S. government surveillance of anti-war activists in the 1960s, but sadly, such dangerous activity isn’t a thing of the distant past. As recently as 2011, with the start of the “Occupy” movement, protestors were labeled “domestic terrorists,” surveilled by the FBI, and arrested in massive numbers for nonviolent demonstrations and assemblies.

The Kent State precedent has cast a shadow over our democracy for over 40 years. If Kent State remains a glaring example of government impunity, it sends a message that protestors can be killed by the state for expressing their political beliefs. This lack of accountability and hostility towards peaceful expression flies in the face not only of our Constitution, but also our international human rights commitments.

Though we are a small organization, KSTT is committed to seeking justice for the victims of the Kent State massacre. Next week, representatives from KSTT will be briefing the U.N. Human Rights Committee about the United States’ failure to provide full accountability for the Kent State massacre. We hope the Committee will ask our government to provide answers regarding its complicity in the killing of peaceful protesters, or at the very least acknowledge its failure to conduct a thorough and credible investigation. We intend to make it clear that we have not forgotten the horrific event that took place at Kent State. Allison stood for peace and died for peace. May no other protestor in the U.S. ever have to pay the price she paid for her peaceful political expression and dissent.

Laurel Krause is a writer dedicated to raising awareness about ocean protection, safe renewable energy and truth at Kent State. She is the cofounder and director of the Kent State Truth Tribunal

 

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AllisonStoodForPeace.-1

On February 9, 2013, the Kent State Truth Tribunal and Allison’s family began working with the United Nations in Geneva. Kent State questions and issues were submitted, and were accepted by the United Nations. Inquiries into the United States’ Report on their compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as the United States participates in its 4th Periodic Review before the Human Rights Committee at the UN.

READ the original Kent State Truth Tribunal ‘submission’ to the UN, Human Rights Committee 130209_ICCPRKentStateFinalA

READ the Kent State Truth Tribunal ‘shadow report’ to the UN, Human Rights Committee submitted October 2013 KSTTShadowReportFINAL

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