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Flowers are STILL Better Than Bullets
By Laurel Krause
On May 3, 1970, a day before her slaughter, Allison Krause said to Ohio National Guardsmen, "Flowers are better than bullets."
Approaching the 50th anniversary of the Kent State massacre on May 4, 2020, I've been thinking about my sister Allison, who was killed as she protested the expansion of the Vietnam War, the forced draft lottery, and President Nixon's Cambodian invasion. Allison Krause was a 19-year-old Kent State University freshman and honors student who was shot dead, along with Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder, by Ohio National Guard gunfire on May 4, 1970, at an anti-war rally at Kent State University in Ohio.
In the afternoon on May 4, 1970, as a 15-year-old, I was walking home from my junior high school bus stop. A neighbor met me, advising me that Allison had been hurt and suggested I phone my parents who both worked. Within hours we were driving to ID Allison's lifeless body on a hospital gurney, not far from Kent State, where we heard armed soldiers mutter to us, "they should have shot more."
Ever since May 4, 1970, Kent State massacre survivors have been treated miserably by the US government with harassment, surveillance, and threats because we demanded accountability and truth at Kent State, and because we dared to sue the State of Ohio for wrongful actions. Instead of informing us of what happened to our family members, supporting us in our time of grief and honoring our loved ones correctly, Kent State survivors have had to defend ourselves from chilling pranks and surveillance by the FBI and COINTELPRO … now going on five decades.
Just nine months after Woodstock in May 1970, a generation of young, anti-war Americans, peaceful protesters, and college students became the latest target of the US military. At Kent State, and 10 days later at Jackson State, the Nixon administration criminalized campus protests against the Vietnam War, literally taking aim at students protesting the war, shooting dead six students and protesters in May 1970. The shocking news of a government using military force against protesting college kids and killing four, went around the world along with Neil Young's anthem "Ohio." From Vietnam veterans' stories from back then and to this day, the song "Ohio" was rarely, if ever, heard on the airwaves in Vietnam.
In response to Allison's killing, I raised my fist for Allison and for the truth at Kent State. Back then, even though Kent State was probably the most documented, modern American historic tragedy, those in power have managed to get away with it, never credibly examining what occurred, and a Kent State federal grand jury was denied.
Fifty years have passed, yet little has been done to heal this wound or learn from these massacres. Instead of investigating and acknowledging how the US government's militia killed unarmed student protesters on May 4, 1970, over the last 50 years, Kent State has ignored, minimized, and propagandized the true facts and impacts of what occurred.
Since there has been no action to credibly investigate the Kent State massacre, we took matters into our own hands. Wishing to learn the truth from observers and participants at Kent State, Emily Kunstler and I launched the Kent State Truth Tribunal at the 40th anniversary. At three Truth Tribunals held in Kent, San Francisco, and New York City in 2010, we filmed the stories and testimonials of original witnesses and participants of the Kent State massacre. Visit our website: www.TruthTribunal.org
In May 2010 at the 40th anniversary, more credible truth about the Kent State massacre emerged in Stuart Allen's forensic examinations of tape, recorded on a Kent State dormitory window ledge at the time of the massacre. Allen discovered the Kent State Commands-to-Fire in the massacre that authorities had denied for 40 years, also uncovering elements of US government complicity at play in the massacre.
Instead of Kent State or the US Department of Justice examining the command responsibility uncovered in forensic expert Stuart Allen's Kent State findings, the University worked to discredit and bury Allen's forensics as the US Department of Justice refused a new examination into the Kent State Commands-to-Fire. Obviously, at Kent State, the US government still has a lot to hide.
In 2014, we took the Kent State human rights abuses before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. During the UN treaty hearing, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) admitted, "In 1970, four students were killed, were murdered," yet the DOJ offered no accountability for their comment or findings. From the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, we learned Allison had been target assassinated by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University on May 4, 1970.
Last year, at the 49th Kent State anniversary in May 2019, the University selected Stephanie Danes Smith, a retired 25-year CIA Sr. Intelligence Executive, to lead the Kent State 50th committees, making national headlines at Common Dreams. Responding across America, supporters of the truth about Kent State reacted with revulsion at the CIA being put in charge of the Kent State "story" for the 50th, noting CIA Vietnam War crimes, their rewriting of Vietnam War history, and torture perpetrated by the CIA. An immediate-response, email protest to the KSU president forced Danes Smith to step down as Chair of the 50th, yet Danes Smith continues to work covertly on 50th matters as she indoctrinates Kent State freshmen in her required class on the massacre.
Other members of Kent State University's 50th team include the Kent State Executive Director of University Media Relations, a 20-year careerist in the Ohio National Guard. And the director of the Kent State massacre museum, the May 4 Visitors Center, came from the Nixon Presidential Library before Kent State recruited her.
According to Kent State, May 4, 1970, was an "unfortunate incident" and it wasn't really their fault. The US government, Kent State University, and even the Ohio National Guard were not really responsible for the killing of four and wounding of nine unarmed students at a protest on May 4, 1970. It's as if American leadership regards Kent State as a no-fault massacre, with no government exposure, setting a precedent to be able to kill students and protesters again
Ever since May 4, 1970, Kent State University has aimed to control what is known, and now to be taught and learned, about the May 4th Kent State massacre. For the 50th anniversary on May 4, 2020, as the perpetrators of the massacre operate the commemoration, we have to wonder if the American public, along with survivors of the massacre, will ever know the true story of the May 4, 1970, Kent State massacre … or heal our wounds from what the government did to all of us, without apology or remorse.
Laurel Krause, Kent State Truth Tribunal co-founder, focuses on truth and protecting protesters today. Follow Laurel, for her sister Allison Krause, at www.TruthTribunal.org.