Welcome, friends, to the latest installment in our ongoing series exploring and exposing the mysteries, intrigues and investigations into the trauma that is the 1970 Kent State killings. As many of you will remember, 2010-2012 brought a number of new revelations about what really happened on that horrible spring day. But despite the newly-discovered evidence of a possible order to shoot and the discovery that, indeed, someone other than the Ohio National Guard fired shots that day, the story has once again been shelved, with little follow-up by either the mainstream media or, more importantly, people who could actually do something about finally exposing the truth and bringing about a just conclusion to this sad chapter of our American history.
As a result, the story of the continuing stonewalling of justice regarding Kent State has been chosen as one of the PROJECT CENSORED stories of 2012. The article will appear in the forthcoming Censored 2013: Dispatches from the Media Revolution to be published by Seven Stories Press. But, lucky you, you can read it here first as I will be serializing it in full, in four installments, over the next few weeks. In addition, should any of you wish to share this on your own blogs or other websites, please feel free to do so. Just be sure to credit the authors and the upcoming book from Seven Stories Press.
The article was written by my friend, Laurel Krause, sister of Kent State victim Allison Krause, and the founder of the Kent State Truth Tribunal. Laurel also runs her own blog, Mendo Coast Current, where she posts pieces on Kent State as well as on renewable energy issues. Should you have any questions for Laurel, I encourage you to head on over to her blog and post a comment there. She reviews all her comments so you can be assured she will see whatever you post. Laurel's co-author is Mickey Huff, the director of Project Censored and a professor of social science and history at Diablo Valley College. He did his graduate work in history on historical interpretations of the Kent State shootings and has been actively researching the topic more since his testimony to the Kent State Truth Tribunal in New York City in 2010.
As usual, I will try to monitor this diary and respond to questions and comments as soon as possible. However, several other things are demanding my attention today so if I am a little slower than usual, please accept my apologies in advance. Moreover, if I don't thank each and every poster personally, please know that you do have my thanks and my continuing appreciation for reading and for caring about this issue. And if you have a story of your own to share, please feel free to post it in comments. This community we have created around this issue has given me so much solace and helped so much in healing me from the trauma of that sad day that I can only hope to share a little bit of that magic with all of you who take the time to read these pieces.
As always, this diary is dedicated to the memory of four wonderful young people who lost their lives way too early -- Jeff Miller, Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder and Sandy Scheuer -- as well as to all those who still live with their scars from that day.
Now, to Laurel and Mickey's piece.....
Was It about Civil Rights or Murdering Student Protesters?
by Laurel Krause with Mickey Huff
When Ohio National Guardsmen fired sixty-seven gun shots in thirteen seconds at Kent State University (KSU) on May 4, 1970, they murdered four unarmed, protesting college students and wounded nine others. For forty-two years, the United States government has held the position that Kent State was a tragic and unfortunate incident occurring at a noontime antiwar rally on an American college campus. In 2010, compelling forensic evidence emerged showing that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) were the lead agencies in managing Kent State government operations, including the cover-up. At Kent State, lawful protest was pushed into the realm of massacre as the US federal government, the state of Ohio, and the Ohio National Guard (ONG) executed their plans to silence antiwar protest in America.
The new evidence threatens much more than the accuracy of accounts of the Kent State massacre in history books. As a result of this successful, ongoing Kent State government cover-up, American protesters today are at much greater risk than they realize, with no real guarantees or protections offered by the US First Amendment rights to protest and assemble. This chapter intends to expose the lies of the state in order to uncensor the “unhistory” of the Kent State massacre, while also aiming toward justice and healing, as censoring the past impacts our perspectives in the present.
The killing of protesters at Kent State changed the minds of many Americans about the role of the US in the Vietnam War. Following this massacre, there was an unparalleled national response: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed across America in a student strike of more than four million. Young people across the nation had strong suspicions the Kent State massacre was planned to subvert any further protests arising from the announcement that the already controversial war in Vietnam had expanded into Cambodia.
Yet instead of attempting to learn the truth at Kent State, the US government took complete control of the narrative in the press and ensuing lawsuits. Over the next ten years, authorities claimed there had not been a command-to-fire at Kent State, that the ONG had been under attack, and that their gunfire had been prompted by the “sound of sniper fire.” Instead of investigating Kent State, the American leadership obstructed justice, obscured accountability, tampered with evidence, and buried the truth. The result of these efforts has been a very complicated government cover-up that has remained intact for more than forty years.1
The hidden truth finally began to emerge at the fortieth anniversary of the Kent State massacre in May 2010, through the investigative journalism of John Mangels, science writer at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, whose findings supported the long-held suspicion that the four dead in Ohio were intentionally murdered at Kent State University by the US government.
Mangels commissioned forensic evidence expert Stuart Allen to professionally analyze a tape recording made from a Kent State student’s dormitory window ledge on May 4, 1970, forever capturing the crowd and battle sounds from before, during, and after the fusillade.2 For the first time since that fateful day, journalists and concerned Americans were finally able to hear the devastating soundtrack of the US government murdering Kent State students as they protested against the Vietnam War.
The cassette tape—provided to Mangels by the Yale University Library, Kent State Collection, and housed all these years in a box of evidence admitted into lawsuits led by attorney Joseph Kelner in his representation of the Kent State victims—was called the “Strubbe tape” after Terry Strubbe, the student who made the recording by placing a microphone attached to a personal recorder on his dormitory 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 and found a CD copy of the tape recording from the day of the shootings. Paying ten dollars for a duplicate, Canfora then 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.
But it is really the two pieces of groundbreaking evidence Allen uncovered that illuminate and provide a completely new perspective into the Kent State massacre.
First, Allen heard and verified the Kent State command-to-fire spoken at noon on May 4, 1970. The command-to-fire has been a point of contention, with authorities stating under oath and to media for forty years that “no order to fire was given at Kent State,” that “the Guard felt under attack from the students,” and that “the Guard reacted to sniper fire.”3 Yet Allen’s verified forensic evidence of the Kent State command-to-fire directly conflicts with guardsmen testimony that they acted in self-defense.
The government claim—that guardsmen were under attack at the time of the ONG barrage of bullets—has long been suspect, as there is nothing in photographic or video records to support the “under attack” excuse. Rather, from more than a football field away, the Kent State student protesters swore, raised their middle fingers, and threw pebbles and stones and empty tear gas canisters, mostly as a response to their campus being turned into a battlefield with over 2,000 troops and military equipment strewn across the Kent State University campus.
Then at 12:24 p.m., the ONG fired armor-piercing bullets at scattering students in a parking lot—again, from more than a football field away. Responding with armor-piercing bullets, as Kent State students held a peaceful rally and protested unarmed on their campus, was the US government’s choice of action.
The identification of the “commander” responsible for the Kent State command-to-fire on unarmed students has not yet been ascertained. This key question will be answered when American leadership decides to share the truth of what happened, especially as the Kent State battle was under US government direction. Until then, the voice ordering the command-to-fire in the Kent State Strubbe tape will remain unknown.
1. For more background on Kent State and the many conflicting interpretations, see Scott L. Bills, Kent State/May 4: Echoes Through a Decade (Kent OH: Kent State University Press, 1982). Of particular interest for background on this chapter, see Peter Davies, “The Burning Question: A Government Cover-up?,” in Kent State/May 4, 150–60. For a full account of Davies’s work, see The Truth About Kent State: A Challenge to the American Conscience (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1973). For a listing of other works see Selected Bibliography on the Events of May 4, 1970, at Kent State University, http://dept.kent.edu/....
2. John Mangels, “New Analysis of 40-Year-Old Recording of Kent State Shootings Reveals that Ohio Guard was Given an Order to Prepare to Fire,” Plain Dealer (Cleveland), May 9, 2010, updated April 23, 2012, http://blog.cleveland.com/... Interview with Stuart Allen analyzing new evidence who said of the efforts, “It’s about setting history right.” See the footage “Kent State Shootings Case Remains Closed,” CNN, added April 29, 2012, http://www.cnn.com/....
3. Submitted for the Congressional Record by Representative Dennis Kucinich, “Truth Emerging in Kent State Cold Case Homicide,” by Laurel Krause, http://thomas.loc.gov/.... For a brief introduction on the history and emerging historiography of the Kent State shootings, see Mickey S. Huff, “Healing Old Wounds: Public Memory, Commemoration, and Conflicts Over Historical Interpretations of the Kent State Shootings, 1977–1990,” master’s thesis, Youngstown State University, December 1999, http://etd.ohiolink.edu/....
For the official government report, see The Report of the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest (Washington: US Government Printing Office, 1970), also known as the Scranton Commission. It should be noted that the Scranton Commission stated in their conclusion between pages 287 and 290 that the shootings were “unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable” but criminal wrongdoing was never established through the courts and no one was ever held accountable for the shootings. Also, it should be noted, that the interpretation that the guard was ordered to fire conflicts with Davies’s interpretation, in note 1 here, that even though he believes there was a series of cover-ups by the government, he has not attributed malice. For more on the Kent State cover-ups early on, see I. F. Stone, “Fabricated Evidence in the Kent State Killings,” New York Review of Books, December 3, 1970, http://www.nybooks.com/....