Kent State: Death of Innocence and the First Amendment
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 wounding of nine 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. 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 may 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 live 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 Federal Bureau of Investigation 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 deep 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-witnesses 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 turned our attention to the Kent State Truth Tribunal in New York City on October 9 and 10, Mr. Allen presented this new evidence so that everyone watching at MichaelMoore.com could hear it for themselves.
The Kent State Truth Tribunal in early October 2010 heard testimony from forensic audio scientist Stuart Allen that established clear orders to shoot live ammunition at unarmed protesting students by the Ohio National Guard. The tape also reveals startling evidence of an altercation with distinct gunshots from a separate weapon fired directly prior to the National Guard’s call to “Prepare to fire!”
This same new evidence prompted Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich to call for a congressional inquiry into the Kent State shootings. “Certainly we owe it to the memory of the students who lost their lives and their families and we owe it to the American people to find out the truth,” Kucinich told Fox 8 News in Cleveland, Ohio.
The audio evidence of a separate .38 caliber gun firing 70 seconds prior to the
guardsmen’s weapons suggests there may have been a provocation prior to the shooting of students. Photographs and testimonies point to the involvement of FBI informant Terry Norman, who is believed to have fired the weapon. Several students place him on campus that day working in tandem with the Ohio National Guard, carrying a camera and a pistol. “Now we have a tape that proves conclusively that four shots were fired before the National Guard volley,” Congressman Dennis Kucinich said. “That has implications that are tremendous. Who knows what would have happened if those shots hadn’t been fired.” Terry Norman has not commented about his activities at Kent State since the day of the shootings and his whereabouts are currently unknown. Kent State family members, as well as Representative Kucinich, have called for Mr. Norman to step forward to deliver information about his involvement at Kent State.
We applaud Congressmen Kucinich’s effort to fast-track a first federal Kent State hearing before the Congressional Domestic Policy Subcommittee in early December. I look forward to witnessing this important moment in history from a front row seat!
Close to 100 personal narratives have already been recorded and preserved from people of all backgrounds who’s lives were impacted by the killings at Kent State in 1970, representing a comprehensive oral archive of this historic event. For more information, visit: http://TruthTribunal.org
Laurel Krause is a writer and truth seeker dedicated to raising awareness about ocean protection, safe renewable energy and other environmental issues. She publishes a regular blog on these topics at MendoCoastCurrent. She is the co-founder and director of the Kent State Truth Tribunal. Before spearheading this effort for her sister Allison Krause, who was killed at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, Laurel worked at technology start-ups in Silicon Valley.