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by Laurel Krause, June 22, 2019

Last month on May 22, 2019 we witnessed a significant ‘turning of the tide’ for Kent State truth in the May 4, 1970 Kent State massacre.

This year, just a few days after a peaceful, healing 49th anniversary of Kent State on May 8, 2019, I awakened to a riveting facebook message from colleague Mike Alewitz, an eyewitness of the massacre at Kent State saying, “Unbelievable. The f*cking CIA is organizing the 50th.”

Searching on facebook I discovered a leak that retired 25-year CIA operative Stephanie D. Smith, now a professor at Kent State University, had been quietly announced as KSU President Beverly Warren’s choice for Chair of the 50th commemoration coming up on May 4, 2020 and managing the $2million budget for the Kent State 50th.

Since none of us had ever heard of Ms. Smith, I searched for and found Smith’s Kent State University backgrounder with a CIA photo headshot http://bit.ly/2VmCPFR, describing her decades of PR experience in re-messaging torture at Abu Ghraib among other scandals. From what we’ve been able to piece together, Smith has worked at high levels with CIA leads and the State Dept. to assist the current director of the CIA, Gina Haspel and ex-Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, exiting the Agency around 2008. Smith completed her undergraduate work at Kent State University in 1979. Unfortunately Smith never attended or expressed any interest in the Kent State massacre commemorations when she was a student from 1975-79.

Even though leadership at Kent State University savored their choice for the 50th chair, CIA Smith’s appointment was more of a stunning slap in the face to every protester who stood for peace and against the Vietnam War. Alewitz said, “This appointment is a travesty and an insult to all those that seek peace and social justice.” http://bit.ly/2JyADEA It is widely known the CIA was the most rogue and vicious contributor to Vietnam war crimes, now wholly focused on re-writing their crimes, re-messaged their war, before, during and after, a key aim of the CIA in covering their tracks.

Digging into press accounts we found Smith had a checkered background involving sexual escapades with her CIA boss http://bit.ly/2E80orb during her “happy” 30-year marriage http://bit.ly/2YpN7ll to another CIA operative http://bit.ly/2JyADEA, and then later turning to Mormonism http://bit.ly/2QbZM8C.

Back to our story and little victory, while Alewitz actively protested Smith’s appointment, his facebook posts were picked up by Russell Mokhiber and reported at Common Dreams. READ: http://bit.ly/2HfOb4y

As uproar over Smith’s appointment made it to national news, Kent State University’s response was tone deaf … a response we have witnessed from the University since the 1970 massacre. At a Kent State insider’s page on facebook, the ‘Kent May 4 Movement Community Forum,’ we read complaints there wasn’t any ‘Organized Opposition’ to Ms. Smith’s appointment and it got us thinking.

Many folks were very upset by Smith’s appointment yet there was no way for us to respond. Kent State University was going to do whatever it wished whether we liked it or not … yet that wasn’t going to work for us any longer.

On May 14, just shy of one week after the leaked announcement to put the CIA in charge of the 50th, in protest we launched our Email Blast. The idea was to create an ‘organized opposition’ to Smith’s announcement by sending protest emails to KSU President Beverly Warren.

On facebook I asked folks against Smith’s appointment to send me their email address. In return I emailed them easy to follow instructions that encouraged quick turnaround by sending KSU President Warren a protest email.

Within hours of launching our campaign, we heard from inside sources that Warren’s email box was exploding from our Email Blast and that leadership at KSU was “annoyed.” We sent instructions to ~300 recipients against the appointment and most of them made their voices heard.

Kent State stood up for Smith by offering, “She’s such a nice person and her students love her. Have you met her?” and “How can you be against her when you don’t know her?” They didn’t understand that our concerns were not personal and we were not wishing to engage in ad hominem character assassinations.

Eight days after launching our Email Blast, on May 22, 2019 Stephanie D. Smith stepped down from chair. READ Mohkiber’s follow-up Common Dreams article http://bit.ly/2VWfWsZ. Kent State refuses to share how many emails President Warren received.

***

A month later, even though Smith has stepped down, she’s still there. Smith is rewriting the legacy of my sister Allison Krause, along with Dr. Mindy Farmer http://bit.ly/2VADpj5 who worked for five years at the Nixon library before her recruitment to run the May 4 Visitor Center at Kent State. READ about Farmer’s tribute to Allison http://bit.ly/2zKXPYW.

Perusing the roster of people at Kent State managing the 50th, we have uncovered that Eric Mansfield http://bit.ly/2Vx22gN was a 20-year careerist in the Ohio National Guard, before becoming Executive Director of Media at Kent State University. Mansfield will lead all Kent State 50th PR and announcements.

In 2019 representatives of those responsible for manufacturing the Kent State massacre are now running the 50th: the CIA, President Nixon and the Ohio National Guard.

Even though Smith no longer chairs the 50th, Smith is still there with Farmer and Mansfield, making sure the story of the Kent State massacre is exactly as the US government and Kent State University wish … and they’re blocking organizations like ours, the Kent State Truth Tribunal from any meaningful participation in the Kent State 50th commemoration.

Where are the representatives of those who stood for Peace at Kent State? Will the peaceful protesters who were present on May 4, 1970 have a voice at the Kent State 50th? With Kent State University in charge, peace will NEVER be part of the remembrance of the Kent State massacre.

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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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JOHN MANGELS, The Plain Dealer, December 19, 2010

In the four decades since Ohio National Guardsmen fired on students and antiwar demonstrators at Kent State University, Terry Norman has remained a central but shadowy figure in the tragedy.

The 21-year-old law enforcement major and self-described “gung-ho” informant was the only civilian known to be carrying a gun — illegally, though with the tacit consent of campus police — when the volatile protest unfolded on May 4, 1970. Witnesses saw him with his pistol out around the time the Guardsmen fired.

Though Norman denied shooting his weapon, and was never charged in connection with the four dead and nine wounded at Kent State, many people suspected he somehow triggered the soldiers’ deadly 13-second volley.

In October, a Plain Dealer-commissioned exam of a long-forgotten audiotape from the protest focused new attention on Norman. Enhancement of the recording revealed a violent altercation and four gunshots, 70 seconds before the Guard’s fusillade. Forensic audio expert Stuart Allen said the shots are from a .38-caliber pistol, like the one police confiscated from Norman minutes after the Guard shootings.

The newspaper’s subsequent review of hundreds of documents from the various investigations of Norman, including his own statements, and interviews with key figures, uncovered more surprising information:

• The Kent State police department’s and FBI’s initial assessment of Norman was badly flawed, with failures to test his pistol and clothing for evidence of firing, to interview witnesses who claimed Norman may have shot his gun and to pursue the question of whether it was reloaded before police verified its condition.

• The Kent State police detective who took possession of Norman’s pistol, and whose investigation ruled out its having been fired, was directing Norman’s work as an informant and later helped him get a job as a police officer.

• Norman’s various statements about why he drew his pistol are inconsistent on some important details and are contradicted by other eyewitnesses. Also, Norman would barely have had time for what he claims to have done during that crucial period.

• Kent State officers knew Norman regularly carried guns, including on campus, even though the department’s chief and another local law enforcement official had doubts about Norman’s maturity and self-control.

• The FBI initially denied any connection with Norman, although the bureau had paid him for undercover work a month before the Kent State shootings. His relationship with the FBI may have begun even earlier than Norman has acknowledged, and he may later have had ties to the CIA.

• After the May 4 tragedy, Norman transformed from informant to cop to criminal.

Antiwar protest builds on Kent State campus

The tolling of Kent State’s Victory Bell, signaling the start of the antiwar protest, drew Norman to the commons just before noon on Monday, May 4, 1970

A camera hung from his neck. He wore thick-soled “trooper boots,” a gas mask he’d bought at a police supply store and a nickel-plated .38 in a holster hidden under his sport jacket.

He said he carried the snub-nosed, five-shot Smith & Wesson for protection. Norman was well known to campus activists, whose meetings he had begun trying to infiltrate in 1968, soon after he arrived as a student.

Norman’s conservative, law-and-order outlook clashed with the militantly anti-war, anti-authoritarian politics of groups like the Students for a Democratic Society. He showed up at their gatherings, trolling for information and snapping pictures until he was tossed out. He said he hoped the photos he regularly provided to the Kent State police department would help send activists to jail.

Throughout the weekend, Norman photographed the increasingly raucous protests at the request of campus police Detective Tom Kelley, his regular contact.

He carried his pistol Sunday night, while photographing demonstrators, and again Monday when he headed for class, with plans to take pictures at the noon anti-war rally. Norman said Kelley and FBI Agent Bill Chapin of the bureau’s Akron office asked him to attend, and either Kelley or Chapin had given him film.

As the Guardsmen moved out, with orders to sweep protesters off the commons and over Blanket Hill, Norman stuck close.

When the soldiers topped the hill and reached a football practice field on the other side, the protesters’ rock-throwing intensified. Norman moved inside a protective semi-circle of Guardsmen, waiting with them as officers discussed what to do.

Several times, Norman hurled stones back at demonstrators. He caught the attention of Guard Capt. John Martin, who wondered, “My gosh, where did that idiot come from and what’s he doing there?”
Finally, a commander ordered the Guardsmen to double-time back up Blanket Hill. Norman said he’d been preoccupied photographing some rock-throwers and missed the soldiers’ departure. He slipped into the crowd, hoping to blend in with several news photographers.

Terry Norman’s statements to police vary

What Norman did next remains in dispute.

Norman said that as the retreating Guardsmen neared the crest of Blanket Hill, he saw them halt, crouch and level their rifles. Like several other witnesses, Norman reported hearing a sharp sound, either a firecracker or perhaps a small-caliber gunshot, followed almost instantly by a torrent of Guard bullets.

He said he dropped to the ground and heard a round go over his head. That would place him on a slope south of Taylor Hall, near the Guard’s line of fire.

After the volley, Norman either “stayed put for a couple of minutes,” started for the campus police station, or headed up the hill toward the shooting site to take more photos, depending on which of his various statements to Kent State police, the FBI, the State Highway Patrol and lawyers one follows.

Norman said he then knelt to check on a “hippie-style person” whom he saw fall or whom he found lying on the ground. In some accounts, the downed man was bleeding from the face; in others, he was overcome by tear gas and his nose was running.

Norman said he moved to leave after determining the man was OK, but he was attacked. In one statement, he was chased and tackled by a group of demonstrators angered by his picture-taking. In others, his initial assailant was a man who grabbed for his camera and gas mask while someone else clinched him from behind.

Norman said he was pulled to the ground and “completely surrounded” by protesters chanting “Kill the pig!” and “Stick the pig!” In a couple of his statements, he claimed to have been hit by rocks and pummeled by fists.

He pulled his pistol (either from his holster or his pocket, depending on the statement) and told his attackers to back off or they were “going to get it.” He struck an assailant with his gun in some accounts but didn’t mention that in others. Then he said he ran down Blanket Hill and across the commons to seek shelter with the Guard, which had set up a secure area.

There, chased by two campus officials who yelled that Norman had a gun and may have shot someone, he surrendered his pistol to a Kent State police officer. A TV cameraman filmed the turnover. “The guy tried to kill me!” Norman says, agitated and panting. “The guy starts beating me up, man, tries to drag my camera away, hit me in the face!”

At no time, Norman maintained in all his statements, did he fire his gun. The attack and his defense, he said, happened after the Guard gunfire, meaning his actions could not have provoked the soldiers to shoot.

Audiotape raises questions about Terry Norman’s role

The altercation and four .38 pistol shots that analyst Stuart Allen uncovered in October 2010 on the audiotape raise questions about Norman’s story that he didn’t fire and that the Guard’s fusillade preceded his assault.

Seventy seconds before the soldiers shoot, the recording captures shouts of “Kill him!” followed by sounds of scuffling and four distinct discharges. An earlier analysis of the tape also revealed an order for the Guard to prepare to fire. It is not clear how or if the altercation, pistol shots and firing order are related.

But as early as the afternoon of May 4, 1970, there were claims that Norman’s gun had been fired four times. There also were available witnesses whose stories contradicted some details — or raised questions about the timing — of Norman’s assault. However, police and government records indicate that investigators did not quickly, rigorously pursue those leads.

When Norman surrendered his pistol, he handed it to Kent State patrolman Harold Rice, who in turn gave it to Detective Kelley. TV newsmen Fred DeBrine and Joe Butano of Cleveland station WKYC and Guard Sgts. Mike Delaney and Richard Day observed the exchange.

The four said they saw a Kent State officer — DeBrine and Butano identified him as Kelley, Norman’s handler as an informant — crack open Norman’s pistol, look inside and exclaim, “My God, it’s been fired four times!” The TV crew and the two Guardsmen also said they heard Norman state that he may have shot someone.

Kent State student Tom Masterson has acknowledged being Norman’s assailant. He said the confrontation happened after the Guard stopped shooting, which jibes with part of Norman’s story, but insisted he was the only one involved. “There was definitely no group of students that attacked him,” Masterson, a retired San Francisco firefighter, said in a recent interview. “There wasn’t time.”

Another Kent State student, Frank Mark Malick, saw a photographer matching Norman’s description waving his pistol as the Guard fired and aiming in the same direction as the soldiers, although Malick said he couldn’t tell if the photographer was shooting.

The FBI looked little into Norman’s involvement until 1973, three years after the incident, when the Justice Department reopened the investigation. Even then the bureau acted reluctantly, at the insistence of Justice Department lawyers.

There is no evidence in the various investigative agencies’ files that anyone attempted to probe the inconsistencies in Norman’s various statements or between his versions and other witnesses’ accounts. According to Norman, Kent State police allowed him to type his own statement.

The FBI interviewed him twice, on May 4 and May 15, 1970, but in no greater depth than other witnesses. The bureau relied on the Kent State police department’s determination that Norman’s gun had not been fired.

The audiotape of the Guard shootings and their aftermath, along with TV footage shot by the WKYC crew of Norman surrendering his pistol, provides an improbably tight time frame within which Norman’s assault and his run for safety would have to fit for his story to be true.

In less than 1 minute and 49 seconds, Norman would have had to check on the injured student, be attacked, draw his gun, free himself from his assailants, then cross more than a quarter-mile of steep terrain to reach the Guard’s rope line.

Norman testified before a federal grand jury in December 1973 as part of the revived investigation. His testimony remains sealed, as is typical. But whatever was said, and whatever additional facts were uncovered, the grand jury did not indict him.

Federal investigators “never left a stone unturned” about Norman, former Assistant Attorney General Stanley Pottinger, who directed the inquiry, insisted in a recent interview.

Although neither Pottinger nor his second-in-command on the Kent State probe, former federal Prosecutor Robert Murphy, recalls details of what Norman said, they both were satisfied his actions on May 4 played no role in the Guard’s shootings. “As far as we were concerned at the time, it was a non-issue in the overall events of what happened that day,” Murphy said recently.

Terry Norman’s gun changes hands

Terry Norman’s .38-caliber pistol represented the best chance for investigators to determine if he fired shots on May 4, but there were abnormalities in its handling from the moment it was confiscated.

A Kent State University police officer takes a pistol from Terry Norman on May 4, 1970. Norman had been taking photos of protesters at an anti-war rally and said he carried the gun for protection.

Norman gave his weapon to Harold Rice, a Kent State patrolman he knew well enough to call “Hal.”

In his report of the incident, Rice wrote that he popped open the cylinder to confirm the gun was still fully loaded and sniffed the barrel to rule out that it had been fired, before handing the weapon to Detective Kelley. The TV footage shows none of this; in fact, the plastic face shield on Rice’s riot helmet precludes bringing a gun close to his nose.

Kelley, who directed Norman’s informant work for the department, carried Norman’s pistol back to the police station. Kelley, in his official statement and later interviews, was adamant that he’d never said Norman’s gun had been fired four times and that examination showed it was fully loaded. Other officers whom Kelley directed to sight- and smell-check the weapon backed him up.

In Norman’s sworn deposition from 1975, he said he had loaded his gun before May 4 with three hollow-point bullets, one armor-piercing round and one tracer round. When Kent State police turned Norman’s pistol over to the FBI on May 5, the bureau noted that it contained four hollow-point bullets and one armor-piercing round. The investigative record does not indicate that anyone noted or probed the discrepancy.

No one tested Norman’s hands or clothing for gunpowder traces, and there is no record that campus police questioned him about whether he had reloaded or searched him for extra bullets or expended shells.

The FBI later noted the Kent State police department’s failure to preserve a chain of custody of Norman’s gun, reporting that it had passed through four officers’ hands, and that at least one of them couldn’t recall when he’d had the pistol.

That casual police attitude extended to Norman’s overall gun-handling. Norman said campus police “unofficially” knew he often brought weapons to school — one had bartered with him on the premises for a rifle or shotgun — even though Police Chief Donald Schwatzmiller considered Norman “gun-happy and very immature” and wanted to bar him from campus. Northampton Police Chief Larry Cochran, who knew Norman from his part-time security job at the Blossom Music Center, had similar concerns.

An FBI check in 1973 determined that Norman lacked the proper paperwork to legally carry a concealed weapon during the May 4 rally. A former Portage County prosecutor told the bureau that Norman could have been charged, but the case would have been difficult to win.

Terry Norman’s FBI connection

Whether due to miscommunication, embarrassment or an attempted coverup, the FBI initially denied any involvement with Norman as an informant.

“Mr. Norman was not working for the FBI on May 4, 1970, nor has he ever been in any way connected with this Bureau,” director J. Edgar Hoover declared to Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook in an August 1970 letter.

Three years later, Hoover’s successor, Clarence Kelley, was forced to correct the record. The director acknowledged that the FBI had paid Norman $125 for expenses incurred when, at the bureau’s encouragement, Norman infiltrated a meeting of Nazi and white power sympathizers in Virginia a month before the Kent State shootings.

Norman insisted his FBI work lasted only about a month, including the Virginia mission and his photographing of campus dissidents.

But a Kent State classmate, Janet Sima, said recently that she accompanied Norman on a day trip to Washington, D.C., in December 1968 so he could attend a meeting he told her involved the FBI. “I felt like he couldn’t talk about it,” said Sima, who didn’t press Norman for details about the 90-minute appointment.

Tom Kelley, the Kent State detective who oversaw Norman’s campus informant work, told lawyers in 1975 that he suspected Norman had worked much more regularly for the FBI than the bureau had publicly acknowledged.

Terry Norman: From D.C. cop to former convict

Disillusioned with campus unrest and uncomfortable with his notoriety, Norman quit Kent State in August 1970 to become a Washington, D.C., policeman. His references included Detective Kelley and Akron policeman Bruce Vanhorn, with whom he had traded for the .38 pistol.

Alan Whitney, a labor leader who helped unionize the D.C. police force in 1972, said recently that Norman was one of about a dozen officers he worked closely with on the two-month campaign. Whitney said another officer told him that Norman sometimes boasted of playing a consequential role in the Kent State tragedy, including firing a gun. When Whitney asked Norman directly, Norman said he couldn’t talk about it.

Norman’s second wife, Sherry Millen, said she had no idea he had been on campus on May 4. Millen, who met Norman in the early 1980s when he was still a cop, said he was estranged from his family.

He told Millen that he’d helped get his first wife, Amy, a job with the CIA and that he had done occasional work for the spy agency. Norman liked shooting guns and talked about wanting to move to Costa Rica, become a mercenary and hunt down drug lords, Millen said.

After Millen and Norman divorced in the early 1990s, he ran into major legal trouble. In 1994, federal prosecutors accused Norman of leading a four-year scheme to bilk nearly $700,000 from the electronics company he worked for as a telecommunications manager.

At first with a partner, and later on his own, the ex-policeman set up shell companies and authorized payments for phony work. He used the money to buy a plane, a 41-foot boat, a recreational vehicle and a 20-acre homestead in Texas and to pad his and his new wife’s mutual funds.

By the time federal agents came after Norman and his third wife in the spring of 1994, Norman had already learned of the investigation. The couple had packed their RV with computers, passports, $10,400, and their four dogs and three cats. With Norman’s weapons and undercover training, the government considered him a serious flight risk.

Norman pleaded guilty to charges relating to conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering. He served three years in prison. Reporters occasionally have tried to contact him, as the anniversaries of the May 4 tragedy come and go. He never has broken his silence. He and his wife live in a secluded area of North Carolina, on the edge of the Pisgah National Forest.

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