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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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Please have a listen to a discussion between Burt Cohen and Laurel Krause about the May 4, 1970 Kent State massacre and the February 14, 2018 Parkland Massacre in this February 27, 2018 segment from Keeping Democracy Alivehttp://bit.ly/2oCRCsv

February 20, 2018 by Laurel Krause

My sister Allison was shot and killed in a domestic US military massacre during a lunch time antiwar protest at Kent State University on May 4, 1970. Allison was 19 years old when she was targeted for assassination. Her spirit reminds us the most heinous of all massacres is when those killed are defenseless young people at their schools.

On the phone last week with my colleague, Emily Aigner Kunstler, Emily told me the news of the 17 massacred, 15 injured, at a high school in Parkland, Florida. I heard her words but wasn’t able to really take them in. I found it hard to react. After all, it was the 18th gun-related incident at an American school since the beginning of 2018, and is now just about an every other day occurrence in the United States of Gun Violence.

Later, as I watched the TV reporting of the mayhem and the lives lost, it struck home with me that I know the horror of how this feels, especially to the families personally hurt.

I know what those grieving 17 families have been going through since their Valentine’s Day. Loss beyond words. Hurt beyond description. A feeling that nothing will change and no one will come to their aid to make change. The needlessness of the deaths staring you in the face. The flower of youth snuffed out by America’s inability to CURB THE URGE to kill and massacre with automatic weapons.

I know that after the dust settles, to those killed and their families, it won’t matter who did the killing … whether it was a disturbed individual, a white supremacist, the military or law enforcement. Their children are no longer alive. The hopes and wishes for what those young people might have become are too painful to acknowledge. The family lives of those harmed will never be the same.

After the dust settles, will there be healing? Will our culture demand amends be made? With the NRA running every show in our government, the answers are … there will be no healing, there will be no amends made, there will only be more trauma.

Our society easily forgets that the children are the future jewels and dreams of what our culture may become. A society that kills its children, and refuses restorative justice for all involved in massacres, is no longer a caring, protective culture. Instead, it is a culture that honors the almighty dollar, enabling massacres with automatic guns over the lives of its young.

When American TV audiences are exposed to continuous footage of massacres (and being told to watch it by TV pundits), we all become a little less feeling.

As Baby Boomers, the affects of the Kent State and Jackson State massacres happened to all of us … not just my family or those who were killed or wounded. All the young people alive back then remember in detail their story as to how those massacres affected them for the rest of their lives. How they were severely changed by the murders … how ever since they haven’t been able to trust their government.

But our government and leaders refuse healing. There is no recognition of these traumas as nationwide traumas. The wounds stack up over a lifetime in peace-loving folks, one massacre at a time.

Will Parkland massacre survivors be sought to share their accounts of the trauma? Will they be formally acknowledged, honored, given a voice or a way to make amends, find their healing? That’s what I want for them. These children deserve their healing. Hell, we all do!

Massacres DEMAND healing and for amends to made. The damaging effects and traumas do not go away. The blood of these young martyrs seeps into the land where it stays forever, a kind of curse on us all for not protecting our children.

WILL AMERICA EVER LEARN TO HEAL & MAKE AMENDS?

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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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Kent State University, May 4, 2017 by Pat LaMarche

Good Afternoon. I’d like to thank May 4th Task Force for having me here with you today.

It is my great and solemn honor to speak to you today.

I was an unusually politically aware nine-year-old kid, trying to make sense of a country spinning out of control, when the federalized troops of the Ohio National Guard opened fire here, at Kent State.

See, when I was growing up, my dad had strict rules about television watching. On school nights the only tv we could watch, was the news. Hind sight being what it is, I probably should have been allowed to watch I Dream of Jeannie or The Munsters and thereby skipped the nightly diet of poverty, race riots and war.

I look back and remember sitting in front of a black and white tv, at truths too upsetting for living color. As the decades have gone by, the contrast has been turned up on the black and white reality that poured out at me each night. I look back now at moments that get more vivid as details emerge. As a journalist, I’m grateful that these stories continue to evolve.

Because of my parents’ news rules, I grew up watching the Vietnam War unfold. I grew up watching civil rights showdowns. I grew up knowing that all too often brute force was the solution to – well – to everything.

One of those school nights when I sat down to watch tv was May 4th 1970. I remember being horrified, confused, disbelieving. I remember being frightened. I better remember my mom, once again hunched over at our kitchen table, grieving – as she had when Martin Luther King Jr. and then Bobby Kennedy were shot.

There was no shortage of black and white tragedy shaping my world. The citizenry used brute force on each other. My government used brute force in foreign countries. Police forces and sheriff’s departments used billy clubs, fire hoses and dogs on protesters. And then, at Kent State, the federal government used brute force on privileged white college kids.

Kent State shocked violence weary white America like nothing before had.

Everyone paying attention to the news in 1970 knew two things. Before Kent State, you had to fit into a couple of categories in order to get killed. You had to be famous. You had to have put yourself out there. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., John and Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X.

Or you had to be some nosey do-gooder looking for trouble in the deep south, like, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

But, if by some chance you were some innocent by stander, well then you had to be black.

Kent State changed all that. Kent State threatened privileged Americans. White draft deferred college kids could be killed just walking to class.

But there was another frightening distinction at Kent State.

Before Kent State, trigger happy police departments killed protestors – as was the case when the South Carolina highway patrol perpetrated the Orangeburg massacre. But at Kent State, in full violation of the United States Constitution, the U.S. military opened fire on the American people. Tanks rolled into town. Check points were set up. And U.S. Army forces terrorized the populace.

Yesterday, on our way into Kent, we detoured and stopped at the Robinson Memorial hospital now University Hospital. That’s where Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, William Schroeder, and Sandra Scheuer along with other victims went after being shot. That’s where their parents went to identify their children’s bodies. I’ll be writing a piece for my page at the Huffington Post later this week, and you’ll be able to see the short video we made in the hallway where 15-year-old Laurel Krause stood waiting for her parents to identify her dead sister.

As we left, I thanked the woman volunteering at the front desk. Ruby’s her name and she’s 73. I asked her if she remembered the Kent State shootings. She did. Her oldest child went to a local grade school, until the national guard took it over as a military occupation outpost. She had twin two year olds. Late in the day on May 4th she realized she had no milk in the house. She got in her car and headed for the market only to be stopped at a military checkpoint. She told me that the guardsman trained his rifle at her and demanded to know where she was going. She had the kids in the car. She pointed to them and said, “I’m going to get my babies some milk.”

May 4, 1970 was a bad day. That’s how Ruby remembers it. That’s how we all should remember it.

I’d like to take a moment and congratulate Kent State University on their long – now completed march – toward their National Landmark designation. Last October, I had the distinct honor of escorting Mary Vecchio to the public hearing hosted by the National Park Landmark Commission. The photograph of Mary – a teenage runaway – her arms outstretched, kneeling over Jeffrey Miller’s body became the image of Kent State for a long time.

It was an image the school desperately wanted to shake.

Many of you know that. If you attended yesterday’s panel discussion about the National Landmark designation, you know that the university wanted to forget the shootings ever happened. By 1977 enrollment was down, and the school – perhaps rightfully – thought that people didn’t want to send their kids to a place where kids got killed.

Kent wanted a new image. What better way to say, Kent State focuses on a healthy living student body, then with a new gym?

But instead of dulling the memory of Kent State, the effort to build a gym invigorated it. Survivors returned to campus. Aggrieved parents returned to the scene where their precious children died. And while strong arm tactics such as tear gas were used again on the students, deadly force was not.

Nixon was gone. J Edgar Hoover was gone. Months earlier Jimmy Carter had pardoned the young men who protested the war by fleeing the country and the draft. The country wanted to heal.

This is the 40th anniversary of that gym protest and as such the discussion this year has taken a slight turn from the killing and injuring of 13 students to the wanton disregard for history and the conscious desire to obliterate if not blur the scene of the crime.

When I brought Mary Vecchio to those hearings it was because she too felt that the story wasn’t complete. Mary’s story, Ruby’s story, that are all a part of the Kent State story. Nixon’s scorched earth policy of killing students, terrifying young moms on an errand to get milk, illegally bombing foreign nations gave way to trees planted on a hillside, a new gymnasium, ugly attacks Allison Krause’s reputation, imprisoning Mary Vecchio in reform school.

This past October, the historians at the National Park Service public forum, agreed with Mary Vecchio. They discussed at great length and with great respect the value of eyewitness accounts. They urged Kent State to include as many of them as possible.

Sometimes human nature gets the better of us. We shy away from people who make a fuss. Who show their anger. Consequently, some historians and institutions want sanitized history. Just the bare bones that can be independently confirmed, not all that fleshy humanity that gives an historic event it’s depth, it’s color, it’s warmth. Historians can shy away from eyewitness accounts because humans sometimes have funny ways of remembering things. Memories are colored by emotions, past experiences, subsequent tragic consequences.

The landmark commission reminded Kent State that they can have both. They can have the historic skeleton of verifiable facts and they can have the raw emotion that rips through the heart of a murder victims’ father. With so many living eye witnesses, Kent State can compile a vibrant historiography to accompany their memorials in the parking lot.

What Mary remembered so vividly, the shattered glass from car windows, Allison Krause’s foaming last attempts to speak, Jeffrey Millers blood running like a stream away from his body, they are vivid and they are real and they are every bit as sacred to the story of Kent State as the pagoda where the soldiers turned and fired.

You want to know the history of human rights in the United States? Then you need to know about the FBI manhunt for Mary Vecchio. You need to know that the governor of Florida blamed her for the deaths of her friends. You need to know everything you can possibly know about everyone shot at that day and the community in which they lived. And when their stories are included, then Kent State, your historic landmark will have preserved history and not just in black and white, but in real living color.

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May 2, 2017 by Laurel Krause

As 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.

For those seven years since we founded the Truth Tribunal, I 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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April 9, 2017

Last week I received a package from the daughter of a woman who helped my sister Allison Krause as she was dying in the Kent State University parking lot. The package contained a greeting card, an image of Dr. Marion Stroud (Allison’s helper), a Letter to the Editor at the Akron Beacon Journal that she wrote shortly after May 4, 1970 and a handkerchief with Allison’s blood … a relic from that day.

Here is the Letter to the Editor written and sent by Dr. Marion Stroud –

To The Editor:

I was with two of the students who were shot and killed by National Guardsmen at Kent Monday and for their sake I want to tell it like it was.

The Guardsmen had marched up the hill after leaving the football practice field. Kids were following them up, some shouting and probably some throwing small stones — there were no “baseball size” rocks available. Without warning the Guards stopped at the top of the hill and fired a long volley of rifle shots into the crowd below.

Many of the kids dropped to the ground and others ran behind the building. There was discussion as to whether the shots were blanks but in seconds we knew they were not. There were kids gathering around the wounded.

THE BOY who died first was shot in the back of the neck. He lay in a vast puddle of his young blood. His friends tried to stop the flow, but he had no pulse nor breath and we all realized he was dead.

There was a cry from a group trying to help a big, beautiful young girl who was lying in the parking lot, shot in the armpit. We tried to put enough scarves and handkerchiefs into the hole to stop the bleeding. She was breathing a little but as we waited for the ambulance I saw her lips go white and her eyes glaze over, and I realized she wouldn’t make it, either.

Five or six victims were picked up on stretchers and those of us who had been fired on stood in small groups trying to figure out why the soldiers had turned and fired without warning. Most of us in that area had been walking away when the shooting started.

THOSE WHO died weren’t wild, SDS bearded hippies. They were kids like my sons and daughters. They came to the Commons for a peace rally. They wanted to know how to get the word to our government that the Vietnam war is immoral and its extension into Cambodia intolerable.

After the shooting one young man said, “You think this bloody mess is awful, just imagine what the kids have to do every day in Vietnam — kill, kill, kill. Plenty of blood in the streets there.”

Listen to them. You know in your hearts, they’re right.

I’m no kid. I’m over 40 and the mother of seven children.

MARION STROUD, Graduate Student, Kent State University

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March 2017

Sift through, learn and peruse this BRAND NEW COMPILATION … A treasure trove of FOIA documents just released by the FBI focusing primarily on Terry Norman who remains a chilling person of interest, an alleged provocateur, in the massacre at the Vietnam War protest at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.

http://www.kentstateterrynorman.com/

 

 

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