Forty years ago today, four students at Kent State University â€” Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, Sandy Scheuer and Â William Schroeder â€” were murdered by agents of the US government. It was maybe the signature event of my generation in terms of demonstrating how far the government would go to stifle dissent. None of the students were armed, and none presented even the Â remotest threat to the National Guardsmen on campus. Yet, no soldier was ever prosecuted for the crime.
A few days after the killings, protesters at my high school in East Meadow, New York, were set upon by right-wing students shouting anti-Semitic slogans. It was no Kent State, but it was an indication that the roots of Kent State were deeply embedded in our soil. When African-American Congressmen are spat upon by tea party members in Washington DC, we are reminded yet again that the poison continues to spread.
In 2007, I wrote a book called “Generation on Fire” in response to Kent State, but primarily as a tribute to the remarkable courage and rebellious spirit that sparked so many of the great changes that came out of the 1960s, Â The last chapter was devoted to the memory of Allison Krause, as told by her boyfriend, Barry Levine, and her mother Doris while I cried into my tape recorder. Here is a pdf of the chapter. Feel free to pass it around. I posted a few more pictures on the book’s Web site here.
It’s been forty years but I’m still very pissed off about Kent State and Richard Fucking Nixon and the cowards who fired those deadly bullets but who still get to drink their beers and sun their big bellies in their backyards while four kids who had been looking forward to long, happy lives, are instead in the ground, their families still devastated
We don’t know who you are, but you do. I hope that every moment of contentment you’ve had since that afternoon has been offset by misery and guilt.Â I wonder whether some time today you’ll pause to think with regret about the lives you destroyed. But I doubt it.Â After all, they shoot students, don’t they?