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Posts Tagged ‘May 4th Kent State’

MendoCoastCurrent, October 5, 2010

Since the beginning of 2010, the Kent State Truth Tribunal has been focused on collecting and understanding the truth about the circumstances that surrounded the killing of four students and the wounding of nine others at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970. As new evidence emerges that supports the belief that the Ohio National Guard was following orders to shoot when they fired into a crowd of peacefully assembled students, we are reminded that this tragic chapter in American history has left an indelible mark on the civic freedoms that define this country.

One of the students shot was my sister Allison Krause and at the moment she died, Allison was protesting the invasion of Cambodia and the escalation of the Vietnam war at a noon peace rally on her college campus. Some of those shot were fellow protestors while others were students simply walking to class.

Like many college students at that time, the protesters at Kent State were fighting the draft and opposed the war in Vietnam. At this peace rally on May 4th at Kent State, they were also protesting the Ohio National Guard’s occupation of their campus that had begun days earlier.  When the shots were fired, the U.S. government robbed the Kent State students of their right to exercise the First Amendment. It also sent a chilling message to young people across the country: If you protest against the government, you could be killed in the process.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was profoundly devalued by this criminal act. This amendment prohibits our government from “interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a government redress of grievance.”

Until the truth about the Kent State shootings is known and laid bare before the public, the value and meaning of our First Amendment continues to be compromised. The words written and preserved in the Library of Congress have very little to do with citizen’s rights in America today.

Fast-forwarding 40 years to May 4, 2010 and with the help of heartfelt Kent State supporters like Michael Moore, as well as many present at the original peace rally at Kent, the Kent State Truth Tribunal began to record and preserve the truth, broadcasting our findings at MichaelMoore.com. The buried truth about Kent State and the continued cover-up that surrounds the Kent State killings has begun to unfold before us.

We now see how that the calculated acts of President Richard Nixon, Ohio Governor James Rhodes and the Ohio National Guard commanders seamlessly silenced and damaged the psyche of the sixties generation, robbing us of our civil rights. The consequences of their violent actions against students still reverberate today.

I was 15 years old on May 4th 1970. Through the eyes of a teenager I felt the deeper personal angst and pain of losing my only sibling Allison as my family and our home was torn apart. Allison’s death and the harassment that followed will never be forgotten. When I lost Allison I was outraged but realized quickly that there was little that a 15-year-old could do.

My parents, Arthur and Doris Krause, pursued redress through the courts, seeking justice the American way. In each and every litigation the shooting guardsmen, along with their commanding officers, claimed there wasn’t an order to shoot ~ that the guardsmen reacted with their shots because they felt their lives were in danger, despite the fact that many eye-witnessed remembered clearly hearing an order to fire.  By taking this position and stating this under oath, the government forced everyone pursuing truth and justice in the Kent State killings to look for proof that an ‘order to shoot’ existed.

Back to the present, just days after we closed the doors at the Kent State Truth Tribunal at the 40th anniversary of the killings in Kent, Ohio, important news was published by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Read it here: bit.ly/aM7Ocm The Plain Dealer arranged an examination of an audio tape recorded by a Kent State student from his dorm window ledge. Two, expert forensic audio scientists, Stuart Allen and Tom Owen, independently confirmed an order was issued to the Ohio National Guard. Mr. Allen found that the order “Prepare to fire,” can be heard on the audio cassette ‘as clear as a bell’.

As we turn our attention to the approaching Kent State Truth Tribunal in New York City on October 9 and 10 http://TruthTribunal.org/event , Mr. Allen will present this new evidence so that everyone watching at MichaelMoore.com can judge for themselves. We hope you will tune in to witness this important moment that will prove an order was issued, that the guards followed a command and that there was homicidal intent on the part of our government to kill unarmed, protesting students

We have invited the federal government to send an official to audit and witness our interview with Mr. Allen.

Additionally, we will be interviewing participants and witnesses of the Kent State shootings to hear and preserve their truth, as well as some notable guests with meaningful connection to the prelude and aftermath.

Daniel Ellsberg will participate in our first Skype interview at this KSTT in New York City.  You may remember that Mr. Ellsberg precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.  He will be giving us background into the political context and key elements of the Vietnam war at the time of the killings at Kent State.

Mr. Lawrence Dowler, founder of the Kent State collection in the Yale Library where he was chief archivist (now retired), will share his truth on the collection he personally assembled, a collection revered to be the most extensive and accurate archive of the Kent State shootings.

You are invited to share in this important moment in history by watching our live broadcast at www.MichaelMoore.com on Saturday and Sunday, October 9 and 10, from 10AM to 5PM est.

You hope you’ll join us as we continue to uncover the truth at Kent State.

To learn more about KSTT and support our efforts, visit http://TruthTribunal.org

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LAUREL KRAUSE, MendoCoastCurrent, July 13, 2010

My sister Allison Krause was one of four students killed in the 1970 Kent State shootings. You may have heard about that day in American history – May 4, 1970 – when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting the invasion of Cambodia. Some of those killed or injured were just walking to class. After the guardsmen fired their weapons, four students lay dead, and nine others were wounded by gunfire. Forty years have passed and no one has ever been held accountable.

When courts fail to bring justice to the injured and when governments prefer to neglect their role in such tragedies, families sometimes turn to alternative means of gathering the truth. So after years of exhausting efforts to find out what happened on the day of Allison’s death, and failure to receive any meaningful recognition for the injury suffered by our family, we decided to establish the Kent State Truth Tribunal on the 40th anniversary of the killings. We felt the imperative to do this for our family and also to come together with others to create an accurate historical account of what happened at Kent.

The Kent State Truth Tribunal (KSTT) teamed up with a remarkable filmmaker named Emily Kunstler, who has dedicated her work to the pursuit of criminal justice in this country. Her father Bill Kunstler was a larger-than-life civil rights attorney who had stood with the Kent State students in the difficult years that followed the shootings. Emily is carrying on his work by harnessing the power of storytelling to establish and memorialize the truth about Kent State.

The KSTT was held on the first four days of May in Kent, Ohio and we recorded and preserved over 70 personal stories of original participants and witnesses. A number of the wounded students shared their truth of what happened that horrific day in American history, along with faculty, student witnesses, Kent townspeople and friends and family of those killed. Some spoke publicly for the first time in four decades. The stories that emerged are powerful narratives about a day that changed America and helped us understand what happened on that historic day. As we filmed the interviews, they were broadcast live on MichaelMoore.com and were viewed throughout the country. This is the first time that a truth-telling initiative in America set out to use new media in this way and it was remarkable to broadcast these accounts live throughout the country.

Little did we know that as we wrapped our project in Kent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and ace reporter John Mangels would break a key piece of news long sought after by those eager to learn the truth about Kent State. The journalist uncovered evidence of an ‘order to shoot’ given to the National Guardsmen on Blanket Hill that May 4th so long ago.

Over the ten years that the families pursued justice in Ohio state and federal courts, the testimonies from the Ohio National Guard and ranking decision-makers supported the ludicrous claim that no order to fire was given. An order would have implicated higher-ranking officers and would have led to court-martials for those involved. Since an admission of command responsibility for the shootings was not forthcoming, it became our job to prove them wrong. This was almost impossible…until now.

The Plain Dealer investigation produced a copy of an audio tape recorded by a student using a microphone on his dormitory room window ledge. This tape surfaced when Alan Canfora, a student protester wounded at Kent State, and researcher Bob Johnson dug through Yale Library’s collection on 1970 Kent State to find a CD with the tape recording on it from the day of the shootings. Paying $10 to have a duplicate made, Alan listened to it and immediately knew he probably held the only recording that might provide proof of an order to shoot. Three years after the tape was found, the Plain Dealer commendably hired two qualified forensic audio scientists to examine the tape. They verified an order for the guards to ‘prepare to fire’.

Shortly after the tape was publicized a remarkable event unfolded in another part of the world with direct parallels to Kent State. British Prime Minister David Cameron formally apologized before Parliament for the events and killings of Bloody Sunday.

As you may recall this event occurred on January 30, 1972, when British paratroopers opened fire on demonstrators in Northern Ireland and 14 civilians were shot and killed and others wounded. The bloodshed led to a major escalation of the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, which have only recently largely subsided. Like Kent State, the military shot and killed its own unarmed citizens.

After 12 years of exhaustive study by an independent judicial commission set up by the British government, the findings spurred this apology from Prime Minister David Cameron. I am moved to think how these words could apply to Kent State in our country:

What happened should never, ever have happened.

The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and hurt of that day, and with a lifetime of loss.

Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly, the government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces, and for that, on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.

While news of the Bloody Sunday apology begins to spread and settle, original participants are beginning to call for even greater steps to condemn the higher-ranking officers that made this deadly decision to shoot and kill.

As I watch from my perch in America, I ponder the complexities of apologies and our need for truth in the Kent State killings of 1970.

From conversations with others who were present at and witnessed the shootings at Kent State, I know that we all wish to have the truth revealed in 2010 and applaud Britain’s important first step to address the harm caused by Bloody Sunday. And I have to ask: what will it take for America to heal the wounds of Kent State?

To learn more about the Kent State Truth Tribunal, please visit our website at http://TruthTribunal.org

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Editor’s Note: Since January 1, 2010, we have been working on the Kent State Truth Tribunal, please go to www.TruthTribunal.org to learn more about our efforts to reveal the truth at Kent State in 2010. Thanks!

laurelnallison2On May 4, 2009 I participated in the 39th Annual Kent State University Memorial and gave this talk:

My name is Laurie Krause. I am the sister of Allison Krause, the daughter of Arthur and Doris Krause.

I want to thank you for gathering together today. It’s an honor to be here at Kent State University to participate. I’d also like to thank the student body and May 4th Task Force for inviting me.

I am here to honor people who follow their truths, to respect people who live their ideals, and to focus on the healing of Kent State and our community at large.

39 years ago today, my sister, Allison Krause, was murdered by the Ohio National Guard for protesting and demonstrating against the Vietnam War. Also killed were Jeffrey, Sandra and William, and nine other Kent State students were seriously injured. I’m pleased to see a number of the surviving protesters here today, thank you for being here.

Allison was a freshman at Kent State who was incredibly passionate about life. She was a peace-loving, confident, altruistic, honor-student wanting to get the most out of college, and she was also deeply in love with her boyfriend, Barry.

As my older sister, Allison was someone I looked up to. She was so creative. I still look up to her and continue to be inspired that the whole world may be changed by any real person, like you or me, walking forward with hope and living our ideals and truths.

Let me ask you, today, are you living your truth?

Allison vehemently disagreed with the US government and its involvement in Vietnam so she assembled with many others and protested on Friday, the first of May, not knowing that she was putting her life in jeopardy, yet feeling strongly that the actions committed by our government were wrong.

On that day, a group of 500 students assembled to protest the US invasion of Cambodia. Rallies were planned for Monday to continue protesting the expansion of the Vietnam War.

The Ohio National Guard was sent in on Saturday and Kent State became a war zone overnight. Students were tear gassed and wounded by bayonets during demonstrations taking place over the weekend.

The ROTC building was burned down in retaliation for the students being attacked for expressing their right to protest and assemble.

Press conferences held by Gov. Rhodes called protesters un-American. Rhodes declared a state of emergency, banned any further demonstrations and imposed martial law at Kent. Curfews were set. Students had to run from Guardsmen on campus late at night and Allison ran from them that night. Students couldn’t return to their dorm rooms and were stuck wherever they could find shelter for the night.

Over the following days, the Kent State University campus ignited into one of our country’s worst nightmares.

As tensions heightened over the weekend, Allison called home to my parents to let them know what was happening on campus. My father told Allison to be cautious; he even asked her to back down and not involve herself.

My parents, like most parents, were coming from a place of love for their daughter. They wanted her to be safe.

But Allison was aware of the risks involved. Still, she never considered not protesting against something she was incredibly passionate about. The Vietnam War had just taken a turn for the worse, it was a time when hope for peace was fading.

To Allison, it was an obligation to show dissension to the government invading Cambodia. She made her decision, and we all know the outcome.

That Monday, despite school officials attempting to ban the demonstration by sending out leaflets, more than 2,000 people arrived to protest the government’s actions.

The dispel process began that morning with leaders telling student protestors to go home or be arrested. Students responded to these infringements of rights by throwing rocks. Wearing gas masks, the National Guard used tear gas to exert control over the growing crowds.

After some time with a lot of maneuvering Guardsmen turned in unison and took aim.

The shooting lasted 13 seconds.

Dumdum bullets were used – a type of bullet that’s illegal in warfare – and explodes on impact.

My sister died in Barry’s arms.

Allison’s death symbolizes the importance of our right to protest and speak our truths freely.

The day after the shooting, my father Arthur Krause spoke on television, telling the public how Allison’s death shall not be in vain.

Afterwards, my parents followed their truth through the legal system and in the courts over the next nine years. They sought the truth about Kent State and the reason for the murder of their daughter … going all the way to the US Supreme Court. Their final appeal was settled and the federal government issued a statement of regret.

It’s no secret that my family holds Nixon, Rhodes and the State of Ohio responsible.

Also, with the recently re-discovered audio tape, proof of an order to shoot has been found.

We now know that our government intentionally committed this deadly act against the youth of 1970, calling them ‘bums’ as they protested the Cambodian Invasion.

Triggers were not pulled accidentally at Kent State. What happened was malicious, what happened was irresponsible, what happened was evil.

The shooting was at best, without any forethought, and at worst, with total forethought. Firing on a group of unarmed students, who were simply exercising their First Amendment rights to express dissent with their government was a crime.

What do we do with an order to shoot? What can you do when the government gives permission to use ultimate force, to use deadly force, against its dissenters?

It was the government’s goal to make a defining statement and shut down student protest across the country that day…and they did…for years!

There is no such thing as a true democracy when this happens.

The local, state and federal governments never accepted responsibility for the murder of Allison, Jeffrey, Sandra and William and the injuries sustained by nine others that occurred 39 years ago today.

The people injured in the protests are reminded of it everyday.

The Kent State shooting has changed all of our lives forever, both on the inside and the outside. My family lost its eldest child and were robbed from seeing her blossom in her life past 19 years. I lost my only sister and I miss her each day.

Looking back, did the Kent State protest and killings make a difference?

Well, there was a huge response by Americans.

The Kent State shooting single-handedly created the only nationwide student strike with over 8 million students from high schools to universities speaking out and holding rallies afterward.

And Jackson State also culminated in murderous acts in a similar quest to silence student protest.

We became a nation at war with itself.

But how did we let it get that far? How did this happen?

People will never forget that day at Kent State. Today marks an event that still hits deep for so many of us.

People who were directly involved, people who believe in the Bill of Rights and the freedom to disagree with the government, people who continue to share a vision of harmony and peace for all. We’re all active participants; we are all involved in what happened.

Today is about remembrance, honor, respect and a focal point for a change in the way we handle dissension with governmental actions.

What have we learned? What can we take away from this horrible event?

For starters, we must each take responsibility for what happened so we may learn from the past, to learn from our mistakes.

First, I’m interested in learning more about the re-discovered audio recording from a student’s window ledge during the actual shooting. With new recording and audio technologies, we have revealed that ‘order to shoot.’

The order to shoot has always been a concern. In fact, each and every governmental or military official throughout the legal battle has stated under oath that there was never an order to shoot.

However, I do not accept their words and I ultimately believe they perjured themselves. There is no way the National Guard could march uphill away from the crowd – to turn in unison after reaching the top, and to shoot into the crowd – without premeditated forethought. Their bullets murdered students from over a football field away. There is no way this could ever be accomplished without an order to shoot.  (Click to hear tape.)

Now with this re-discovered tape recording, we finally have proof that an order to shoot was given.

With this tape, it is very much my belief that until the truth is brought to light here, the Kent State Killings will continue to remain an ugly, unknown, unaccounted-for wound.

Case in point, just a little over a week ago Kent State students had another brush with aggressive police action during College Fest, a block party where 60 people were arrested and rubber bullets were shot into the crowd for ‘crowd control.’

People were shot for no reason, arrested for not disbanding, and fires started in the streets.

At an event with no political subtext, we can see how much kindling there already is, waiting for a spark to ignite an explosion of extreme violence. It’s still there!

We’re still seeing the same tension of the Kent State shooting that happened 39 years ago, today. The cause and effect is still active here at Kent State.

Unless we heal these wounds, they shall continue festering.

Instead of focusing on our differences, let’s focus on what brings us together.

Right now, at this point in time, it is critically important that we work together in harmony to benefit all.

We can’t perpetuate this us/them polarization of constant reaction to what’s happening around us anymore. I mean, how’s that working for us? Is that working?

So, how do you heal a community, a nation? Or should I ask, how do we heal ourselves?

Each day as we live our truths, our intentions capture a healing, beautiful, peaceful essence for positive change.

Despite harsh criticism by local residents, even by her own president, Allison and others continued on.

Allison believed in making a difference. Being anti-war and pro-peace and harmony, she was called to action. Although it was not her clear intention, Allison spoke, participated in and died for what she believed in.

The spirit of Allison asks “What are we but what we stand for?”

Don’t hope for a new tomorrow, live it today and live your truth each day. We all make a difference by speaking our truths against all odds.

Through-out my life I looked to my big sister for inspiration. Allison taught me the importance of living a life of intention and truth and I am now consciously and busily speaking my truths.

That is Allison’s message and it not just for me.

I want to close the speech by sharing with you how I have the spirit of Allison in my life as I live on the Northern California coast.

A few years ago under the Bush Administration, a major utility company and the federal government wanted to begin exploring wave energy renewable energy technologies in the Pacific Ocean near where I live.

As it progressed, the administration was very gung-ho on exploring wave technologies with a mentality of ‘throwing technology into the ocean and let’s see what happens!’

In March 2008, I marched for the Mendocino Wave Energy Moratorium, to be a voice for protecting the marine environment, to slow it down for proper environmental research to be conducted and to involve the community in this project.

In 2007 I also began publishing a blog called MendoCoastCurrent. I did this as my personal, political act and operate as the Wave Energy Blogger and an environmental activist now.

Allison showed me that it is my responsibility to live and speak my truth. If I do not agree with what’s happening, it is my right to protest, assemble and voice my concerns.

Since then I’ve encountered quite a few unforeseen obstacles and hostile harassment, yet I still believe that even in the face of opposing forces and arrest, I must fight my good fight…and keep on, keeping on! Allison whispers this in my ear.

Let’s stand up for what is right and best for all. We must protest against injustices and use our voices to speak out when we disagree with what’s happening.

On the Mendocino coast as all looked lost regarding the negative effects of wave energy with mounting environmental concerns regarding this nascent technology in our ocean, President Obama was inaugurated.

Obama and his administration bring us so much good news. They are approaching renewable energy technology from an environmentally-safe perspective along with incorporating community aims and input now. And that massive utility company is following suit.

Environmental concerns in creating safe renewable energy in my community may now be possible!

And I feel Allison smiling!

We must still remain ever vigilant yet I’ve found a great deal of hope and comfort in what I’ve seen these past one hundred days of Obama.

I’m hopeful that we may become more conscious of our use of our precious resources, in using and generating our electricity and in fueling our vehicles.

I’m hopeful that the truth about Kent State will someday be known.

As we learn to speak our truth, even in the face of danger and opposition, we bring change and harmony.

So I ask you…and I ask you for Allison as well…how are you speaking your truth today?

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MendoCoastCurrent, July 27, 2010

On Aug 7-8, 2010 filmmaker Michael Moore will livecast the hearings of the Kent State Truth Tribunal, streaming in real-time the accounts of participants and witnesses to the events surrounding the 1970 Kent State shootings, that left four students dead and nine injured. This livecast is a continuation of the first real-time broadcast of a truth-seeking initiative on Kent State and will be broadcast on www.MichaelMoore.com from 9am-5pm PT. The Tribunal in San Francisco follows a four-day tribunal in Kent, Ohio in early May which marked the 40th anniversary of the campus shootings and assembled over 70 testimonies.

The Kent State Truth Tribunal in May resulted in an outpouring of original participant testimonies, some who shared their stories for the first time since the shootings, forty years ago. Demand for participation was immense at the 40th anniversary yet many witnesses and participants in the events surrounding the shootings were not able to travel to Ohio.

“San Francisco was a cultural and political hub in the sixties and seventies and it is no accident that so many young people scarred by the events of Kent State headed west after the tragic events of May 1970. Forty years later, the west remains a progressive mecca and many Kent State participants made the west coast their home, like me. We will collect their experiences of the Kent State shootings to continue to try to learn the truth about Kent State in 2010,” said Laurel Krause, tribunal founder and sister of Allison Krause, one of four students killed at Kent.

The Kent State Truth Tribunal was convened by family members of students killed at Kent State in order to record and preserve the stories of those directly affected by the shootings and reveal the truth of what happened on that day 40 years ago. The Ohio National Guard, who opened fire on the protesters, has never publicized the findings of its internal investigation into command responsibility for the shootings.

Michael Moore commented on the truth tribunal: “40 years after the Kent State killings, justice still has not been served. The Kent State Truth Tribunal brings us closer to that goal by sharing first-hand accounts with the public. I am grateful for their efforts and hopeful that some day the truth will come out.”

Three days after the original Kent State Truth Tribunal the Cleveland Plain Dealer broke a major story about a recorded order to fire given to the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. Then on June 15th, in the U.K., British Prime Minister David Cameron apologized for the killings of Bloody Sunday, a strikingly similar event in 1972 where British paratroopers fired on demonstrators, killing 14 people.

Tribunal organizers are asking the United States government to acknowledge the ‘wrongs’ of May 4, 1970, in the hope of reclaiming what was lost that day – freedom to protest and to peacefully assemble and the democratic right to question the government and hold it accountable for wrongdoings.

The Truth Tribunal is generating a comprehensive historical record of the Kent State massacre. Interviews are being conducted by award-winning filmmaker Emily Kunstler and like the 40th anniversary hearings, will be simultaneously livecast on the home page of www.MichaelMoore.com. Archived interviews can be found on http://TruthTribunal.org/testimonials. The footage and mementos from the tribunal will be physically archived and available for viewing by the public as part of the permanent collection at the renowned Tamiment Library at New York University.

The west coast tribunal will take place over the weekend of August 7 & 8, 2010 at 150 Green Street, San Francisco, California. Organizers are asking for all original participants and witnesses of the event surrounding the 1970 Kent State shootings to pre-register at www.TruthTribunal.org/preregister. An East Coast Tribunal will follow in New York City on October 9 & 10.

On May 4, 1970 the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students protesting America’s invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. In a day that changed America, four students were killed and nine were wounded as they protested against the war. The incident triggered national outrage in a country already divided. In immediate response to the Kent State shootings, more than four million students rose up in dissent across 900 campuses, generating the only nationwide student protest in U.S. history. No one has been held responsible for the deaths and injuries that resulted from the shootings.

For more information, visit: http://www.truthtribunal.org

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The Plain Dealer Editorial Board, May 12, 2010

Dozens of investigators, from the FBI to the Presidential Commission on Campus Unrest, reviewed the 1970 Kent State University shootings, but none could resolve the central mystery: Why did Ohio National Guardsmen pivot and pull the trigger in lockstep when they fired from the university’s Blanket Hill?

Over the years, there was no concrete evidence that the Guard had orders to fire.

Now there is, thanks to a sophisticated analysis of an amateur recording, according to a remarkable story by Plain Dealer Reporter John Mangels this week.

Gov. Ted Strickland should follow up on these intriguing findings and create a commission to study the tape, incident reports and eyewitness testimony and give a full accounting of that tragic day — not for the courts, but for the sake of the historical record.

Likewise, the U.S. and Ohio attorneys general should consider whether the new audio evidence is sufficient to reopen their inquiries and follow up with attempts to verify the tape’s analysis.

A contentious court case over the shootings, which killed four people and wounded nine, was settled in 1979. Ohio paid $675,000 to victims and survivors. There is no need to reopen it.

And it’s true that some important questions may never be answered. Analysis of the tape, for instance, sheds no light on who might have given the order to fire, or why.

However, if what is heard on the recording can be verified as a command, it could shed light in all of the long-hidden corners of this case for the victims left behind and those still absorbing its lessons.

Already much has been learned from the shootings at Kent State. Law enforcement now uses less lethal methods to control even unruly protesters.

Still, deadly clashes between police and civilians continue to occur in tense, hostile times that are reminiscent of Kent State during the Vietnam War.

New Orleans is reeling from recent, stunning admissions from four police officers who pleaded guilty to covering up a police shooting of innocent, unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge after the devastating Hurricane Katrina. Police now say they raced to the bridge because of reports of gunfire nearby, but when they arrived, all they saw were unarmed civilians. A U.S. District judge was right to call the revelations sickening.

It took five years for the truth to come out about Danziger Bridge, for the record to begin to be set straight and for some cops to face justice.

Uncovering the truth about the shootings at Kent State University has taken far longer, but with a new revelation in hand, Gov. Strickland shouldn’t give up on it now. History is worth getting right.

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Watch and learn the truth about 1970 Kent State shootings from the original witnesses and participants recorded at the 40th anniversary in Kent, Ohio.

Kent State Truth Tribunal testimonials

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JOHN MANGELS, Cleveland Plain Dealer, May 8, 2010

Ohio National Guardsmen who fired on students and antiwar protesters at Kent State University on May 4, 1970 were given an order to prepare to shoot, according to a new analysis of a 40-year-old audio tape of the event. “Guard!” says a male voice on the recording, which two forensic audio experts enhanced and evaluated at the request of The Plain Dealer. Several seconds pass. Then, “All right, prepare to fire!”

“Get down!” someone shouts urgently, presumably in the crowd. Finally, “Guard! . . . ” followed two seconds later by a long, booming volley of gunshots. The entire spoken sequence lasts 17 seconds.

The previously undetected command could begin to explain the central mystery of the Kent State tragedy – why 28 Guardsmen pivoted in unison atop Blanket Hill, raised their rifles and pistols and fired 67 times, killing four students and wounding nine others in an act that galvanized sentiment against the Vietnam War. The order indicates that the gunshots were not spontaneous, or in response to sniper fire, as some have suggested over the years.

“I think this is a major development,” said Alan Canfora, one of the wounded, who located a copy of the tape in a library archive in 2007 and has urged that it be professionally reviewed. “There’s been a grave injustice for 40 years because we lacked sufficient evidence to prove what we’ve known all along – that the Ohio National Guard was commanded to kill at Kent State on May 4, 1970.”

“How do you spell bombshell?” said Barry Levine, whose girlfriend Allison Krause was mortally wounded as he tried to pull her behind cover. “That is obviously very significant. The photographic evidence and eyewitness accounts of what took place seemed to suggest everything happened in those last seconds in a coordinated way. This would be the icing on the cake, so to speak.”

The review was done by Stuart Allen and Tom Owen, two nationally respected forensic audio experts with decades of experience working with government and law enforcement agencies and private clients to decipher recorded information.

Allen is president and chief engineer of the Legal Services Group in Plainfield, N.J. Owen is president and CEO of Owl Investigations in Colonia, N.J. They donated their services because of the potential historical significance of the project.

Although they occasionally testify on opposing sides in court cases hinging on audio evidence, Owen and Allen concur on the command’s wording. Both men said they are confident their interpretation is correct, and would testify to its accuracy under oath, if asked.

The original 30-minute reel-to-reel tape was made by Terry Strubbe, a Kent State communications student in 1970 who turned on his recorder and put its microphone in his dorm window overlooking the campus Commons, hoping to document the protest unfolding below.

It is the only known recording to capture the events leading up to the shootings – including a tinny bullhorn announcement that students must leave “for your own safety,” the pop of tear gas canisters and the wracking coughs of people in their path, the raucous protest chants, the drone of helicopters overhead, and the near-constant chiming of the campus victory bell to rally the demonstrators.

Strubbe has kept the original tape in a bank vault, and recently has been working with a colleague to have it analyzed, and to produce a documentary about what the examination reveals.

The Justice Department paid a Massachusetts acoustics firm, Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc., to scrutinize the recording in 1974 in support of the government’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to prosecute eight Guardsmen for the shootings. That review, led by the company’s chief scientist, James Barger, focused on the gunshot pattern and made no mention of a command readying the soldiers to fire.

Barger still works for the company, now known as BBN Technologies. When told Friday of the new findings, he said via a spokeswoman that in his 1974 review he “did not hear anything like that.”

Someone made a copy of the Strubbe tape in the mid-1970s for use in the civil lawsuits that the shooting victims and their families filed against the Guardsmen and Ohio Gov. James Rhodes, who had sent the reserves to restore order at Kent State.

One of the plaintiffs’ lawyers donated the cassette copy of the Strubbe tape to Yale University’s Kent State archives. Canfora, one of the wounded students, found it while doing research for a book. The Plain Dealer commissioned an analysis of a digitized version of the Yale tape.

Using sophisticated software initially developed for the KGB, the Soviet Union’s national security agency, Allen weeded out extraneous noises – wind blowing across the microphone, and a low rumble from the tape recorder’s motor and drive belt — that obscured voices on the recording.

He isolated individual words, first identifying them by their distinctive, spidery “waveform” traces on a computer screen, then boosting certain characteristics of the sound or slowing the playback to make out what was said. Owen independently corroborated Allen’s work.

For hours on Thursday, first in Allen’s dim, equipment-packed lab in Plainfield and later in Owen’s more spacious, equally high-tech shop in nearby Colonia, the two men pored over the crucial recording segment just before the gunfire. They looped each word, playing it over and over, tweaking various controls and listening intently until they agreed on its meaning.

“That’s clear as a bell,” Owen said at one point as he and Allen replayed the phrase “Prepare to fire” on two large wall-mounted loudspeakers. The two audio engineers didn’t add anything to the recording or fundamentally alter its contents. Instead, they boosted what was present to make it easier to hear. “It’s like putting on eyeglasses,” Owen said.

In addition to the prepare-to-fire command, the segment just before the gunfire contains several curiosities.

• There is a sound fragment milliseconds before the gunfire starts. Allen believes it could be the beginning of the word “Fire!” – just the initial “f” before the sound is overrun by the fusillade. Owen said he can’t tell what the sound is.

• The frequency of the voice giving the command changes as the seconds pass. “I’m hearing a Doppler effect,” Allen said, referring to the familiar pitch change that occurs as a siren passes. “It’s as if he was facing one way and turned another,” Owen said. That’s consistent with eyewitness accounts that the Guardsmen spun around from the direction they had been marching just before they fired.

• The 1974 Bolt Beranek and Newman analysis concluded that the first three gunshots came from M1s, the World War II-vintage rifles carried by most of the Ohio Guardsmen. The M1 is a high-velocity weapon with a high-pitched gunshot sound.

But Allen and Owen said the initial three gunshots sound lower-pitched than the rest of the volley. “It suggests a lot of things, but we’re not certified ballistics examiners,” Owen said. Pistols typically are lower-velocity, lower-pitched weapons. Several Guard officers carried .45 caliber pistols, but the Bolt Beranek and Newman analysis identified .45-caliber fire later in the gunshot sequence, not among the first three shots.

As author William Gordon reported in his exhaustive 1995 book on the Kent State shootings, “Four Dead in Ohio,” several witnesses told the FBI they saw a Guardsman with a pistol fire first, or appear to give a hand signal to initiate the firing. Gordon believes the firing command probably was non-verbal. A few students and Guardsmen claimed at the time that they heard something that sounded like an order to fire, but most of the soldiers who acknowledged using their weapons later testified that they acted spontaneously.

“This is a real game-changer,” Gordon said Saturday of the new analysis. “If the results can be verified, it means the Guardsmen perjured themselves extensively at the trials.”.

Without a known voice sample for comparison, the new analysis cannot answer the question of who issued the prepare-to-fire command.

Nor can it reveal why the order was given. Guardsmen reported being pelted by rocks as they headed up Blanket Hill and some said they feared for their safety, but the closest person in the crowd was 60 feet away and there is nothing on the tape to indicate what prompted the soldiers to reverse course, and for the ready-to-shoot command to go out.

Most of the senior Ohio National Guard officers directly in charge of the troops who fired on May 4, 1970 have since died. Ronald Snyder, a former Guard captain who led a unit that was at the Kent State protest but was not involved in the shootings, said Friday that the prepare-to-fire phrasing on the tape does not seem consistent with how military orders are given.

“I do know commands,” Snyder said. “You would never see anything in training that would say ‘Guard, do this.’ It would be like saying, ‘Army, do this.’ It doesn’t make sense.”

Whether the prepare-to-fire order could lead to new legal action or a re-opened investigation of the Kent State shootings is unclear. A federal judge dismissed the charges against the eight indicted Guardsmen in 1974, saying the government had failed to prove its case. The surviving victims and families of the dead settled their civil lawsuit for $675,000 in 1979, agreeing to drop all future claims against the Guardsmen.

The federal acquittal means the soldiers could not be prosecuted again at the federal level, although a county or state official potentially could seek criminal charges, said Sanford Rosen, one of plaintiffs’ attorneys in the civil lawsuit.

The legal issues would be complex, he said. The presence of a command could give rank-and-file Guardsmen a defense, since they could argue they were following an order.

The command’s significance may be more historical than legal, Rosen said. “At very least, it puts new [focus] on the training and discipline of the Ohio Guard, and provides a lesson of how things should be done correctly when you are faced with civil disorder, particularly when you bring in troops.”

In Pittsburgh, Doris Krause has been waiting 40 years to find out who killed her daughter Allison, and why. Now 84 and widowed, she said Friday the presence of the prepare-to-fire order doesn’t surprise her.

“It had to be,” she said. “There’s no other way they could have turned in unison without a command. There’s no other way they could fire at the same time.”

She is frustrated, though, that the recording can’t identify the person who gave the order. “I wish there was better proof,” Krause said. “We have to find a man with enough courage to admit what happened.

“I’m an old lady,” she said, “and before I leave this earth, I’d like to find out who said what is on that tape.”

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