Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Kent State update: what many suspected

For what you have read, heard or were taught about the "Kent State Massacre" you would tend to nod your head that this,
Charlie Peppers said students learn to fire off one of the most important words in the human language: Why?

"We don't learn to fire guns, but we learn to question the people who do," the Plattsburgh State Student Association president said Tuesday at a college commemoration for the 40th anniversary of the shootings at Kent State.

"We're all here today because students from Kent State and Jackson State were gunned down for standing up," Peppers said. "Each of those students wanted to change the world before one bullet changed them all."
In the back of your mind though, if you are always suspect about the Left and their actions you always wondered if there was more to the story. After all, American soldiers, much less National Guardsmen, do not fire into their citizens without just cause. They just don't.

But .... as with many thing from that era - a story was told over and over enough - unchallenged - that is started to become truth. Well, truth changes now and then.

Now, it all makes sense, thanks to
James Rosen.
We should all feel sorry for those who were killed or wounded at Kent State, and grieve with their loved ones. The anger, resentment, and cause of the deaths though are not the National Guardsmen, the military, or anyone BUT those who organized, led and enabled the riot - and specifically the person who first fired the shots at the Guardsmen. Somewhere out there someone knows who it was.

Some day we will know. For now though we know who is to blame. Again, the Left.
Now largely forgotten, the torching of the ROTC building was the true precursor to the killings at Kent State because it triggered the deployment of the National Guard to the fevered campus.

That deployment climaxed in bloodshed on the afternoon of May 4, 1970, with the guardsmen, clad in gas masks and confronted by angry, rock-throwing students, firing their M-1 rifles 67 times in 13 seconds, killing Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Schroeder.

A report submitted to Attorney General John Mitchell in June 1970 stated "there was no sniper" who could have fired at the guardsmen before the killings.
Forward to today.
... declassified FBI files show the FBI already had developed credible evidence suggesting that there was indeed a sniper and that one or more shots may have been fired at the guardsmen first.

Rumors of a sniper had circulated for at least a day before the fatal confrontation, the documents show. And a memorandum sent to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover on May 19, 1970, referred to bullet holes found in a tree and a statue — evidence, the report stated, that "indicated that at least two shots had been fired at the National Guard."

Another interviewee told agents that a guardsman had spoken of "a confirmed report of a sniper."

It also turned out that the FBI had its own informant and agent-provocateur roaming the crowd, a part-time Kent State student named Terry Norman, who had a camera. Mr. Norman also was armed with a snub-nosed revolver that FBI ballistics tests, first declassified in 1977, concluded had indeed been discharged on that day.

Then there was the testimony of an ROTC cadet whose identity remains unknown, one of the pervasive redactions concealing the names of all the FBI agents who conducted the interviews and of all those whom they interrogated. Although presumably angry over the demonstrators' destruction of the campus ROTC building, the cadet's calm, precise firsthand account nonetheless carries a credibility not easily dismissed.

Before the fatal volley, the ROTC cadet told the FBI, he "heard one round, a pause, two rounds, and then the M-1s opened up."

The report continued that the cadet "stated that the first three rounds were definitely not M-1s. He said they could possibly have been a .45 caliber. … [He] further stated that he heard confirmed reports of sniper fire coming in over both the National Guard radio and the state police radio."

The cadet also told the FBI he observed demonstrators carrying baseball bats, golf clubs and improvised weapons, including pieces of steel wire cut into footlong sections, along with radios and other electronic devices "used to monitor the police and Guard wavelengths."

Separately, a female student told the FBI she "recalled hearing what she thought was [the sound of] firecrackers and then a few seconds later [she] heard noise that to her sounded like a machine gun going off, but then later thought it may have been a volley of shots from the Guard."
Here is the question I want to know.
Absent the declassification of the FBI's entire investigative file, many questions remain unanswered — including why the documents quoted here were overlooked, or discounted, in the Justice Department's official findings.

At a minimum, the FBI documents strongly challenge the received narrative that the rioting in downtown Kent was spontaneous and unplanned, that the burning of the ROTC headquarters was similarly impulsive and that the guardsmen's fatal shootings were explicable only as unprovoked acts.
More answers are needed. How many lives were ruined. How many good men smeared. We can perhaps send some blame the FBI's way as well; for allowing smears to go forward - and for what?


Tregonsee said...

For some reason, bureaucracies such as the FBI like to keep data hidden.  Probably the classic example is the Rosenberg files.  For decades this was a beloved cause by the Left.  In the ultimate irony, their children, grown to adulthood and raised as Red Diaper Babies, demanded and got the hidden information under the FOIA.  Much to the horror of the Left, the government told the truth that they used only a small part of the evidence in the trials.  Data from the Soviet archives closed the case.  However, to this day, many people still consider them victims of "The Red Scare."  The truth always comes out eventually, but it is much better sooner than later.

Steeljaw said...

Allow me to offer James Michner's work: "Kent State: What happened and Why" as a primary refernce.  In particular, focus on the chapters dealing with the mood on th campus the days prior that included a well received open-house put on by the Army.  Also, look at the tactical situation where the guardsmen found themselves on the baseball field with the backstop and fences behind them and the crowd of students to their front. On the whole, a pretty even-handed *contemporary* account as only Michner could do.
w/r, SJS

MR T's Haircut said...

To what end indeed...  a question: what would happen in todays day and age if something similiar were to occur?  We cannot even control rioter's let alone crazy idealogue soaked leftie students!

AW1 Tim said...

 I have an idea about who the real agitators name(s) might be, and I suspect they wouldn't surprise anyone who reads here or has any sort of an objective view.

 I can say that it is my personal belief that there were NEVER and spontaneous demonstrations, actions, or whatever during thie period of history. Every one of them was organized, and usually by members of the same crew.

 Things are no different today.

Cupojoe said...

I saw an 8mm video of this incident take from a high up window and saw how easily that incident could have happened. You could see a small number of guardsmen who were surrounded on three sides by thousands of students aggressively approaching them. Once they started shooting the students retreated, but I could easily see how the guardsmen feared for their life. It wasn't peaceful students marching. It looked like Custer's last stand.

OldCavLt said...

MY question?

Did the NG have tight shot groups?

But I'm cynical that way.

C-dore 14 said...

AW1, Your comments are "right on, man" to use the language of the time.  Mrs C-Dore likes to tell the story of a demonstration (read "riot") that she witnessed at UCLA right after the Kent State shootings.  Realizing that it was probably a good idea to get off campus she was trying to make her way back to her dorm which, unfortunately, was on the other side of the Gym/ROTC building.  Going out of her way to avoid the crowd she was able to look down on the demonstrators as they approached the line of campus police.  It was then that she noticed the agitators (well known around campus) leaving the area (and campus) before the fighting started.  She later confronted one of them about it and was told that he didn't want to get arrested so he could "...continue the struggle."  I won't repeat her response.

Salty Gator said...

Very sad story indeed.  Let us not forget the ROTC cadet who was loading his uniform into his car when he got knocked down by a stray bullet.  Do not know if it was a .30 from the M1s or if it were a different caliber.  

Casey Tompkins said...

John W. Campbell wrote an editorial about those events shortly after they took place, along with the actual events. Wish I had kept my old collection of Analog.

Campbell started out with a story of a friend who walked the railroad tracks for his company, checking the rails, ballast, etc. One day a bear came out of the woods and made a beeline for the man, who it turns out was an amateur baseball pitcher, and the ballast were conveniently baseball-sized. The bear ended up with a fastball (er, rock) to the skull, which killed it.

His point was that even thrown rocks can be lethal.

After that he mentioned points usually not discussed today, such the fact that students & others had been rioting for the previous two days, and burned down the ROTC building. Not only that, they attacked the firemen and chopped up the fire hose to prevent extinguishing the fire. This was not a bunch of peaceful hippies passing out flowers.

Not to mention the Guardsmen had been there for two days and were short on sleep due to all the troubles.

Just prior to the shootings the protesters had been ordered to disperse. The students responded by throwing rocks and tear-gas canisters.

By the way, the Wiki page on the shootings mentions the holes in the sculpture and the tree. It wasn't a secret. They even have a photo of the hole in the sculpture, with the caption that it came from a .30 caliber round fired by a Guardsman. There's also a shot from the POV of the Guard where you can see the scuplture. Looking at both photos, it seems evident that the shot came from the driection of the Guard. The page also includes a map showing the movements of the Guard, and it is clear that the sculpture and the tree were between the Guard and the students.

We don't need a mysterious sniper whose existence relies mainly on reports heard over a radio. Given the chaotic circumstances, it's quite possible that the report was in error. Certainly one eye (ear) witness reported hearing machine-gun fire, which was actually rapid fire from the Guards' M-1 rifles.

I find the possibility that a nitwit FBI-wannabee fired three shots, causing the Guard to react, more plausible. Those poor bastiches were worn-out, stressed-out, and most likely had very little use for pampered college kids burning down the campus. It wouldn't take much to evoke a reaction.

Still, Phib's main point stands. The common wisdom of what happened is not very accurate.

Anon said...

I tell the following story because I feel strongly about service to our country.  I don't want to minimize the loss of life, especially from a situation where bad behavior led down a path that no soilder wants to tread, but I do hope we have learned something since that day.

When I was a Midshipman I went to Kent State for a competition.  Some of the students gave us a tour of the campus, and when we arrived at the memorial they became quite somber and visibly shaken.  I was not too moved by the disks and slabs of granite, and I sensed that others were a little agitated by my disinterest. 

Why the lack of interest?  Every day I walked to class surrounded by monuments and buildings, all with names of great people who dedicated their lives to the service of our country.   Sometimes those people even gave their lives.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong supporter of the 1st Amendment, but you want me to feel sorry for four students who were protesting the military that provides them that right? Bullshit.

DG said...

Perhaps if you had listened a little closer, you would have heard that not everyone killed or wounded was a protester. Two of the fatalities were bystanders - one was a cadet!

The situation was a bad one - thats one reason why I don't like seeing NG used as crowd control or cop replacement even now - I don't think they are trained for it, MPs aside.

ewok40k said...

Well, to put the words of one fictional spy: "You protect the sources, imagine 40 years ago agent A provided the data, and sometime later he enlisted agent B who is still working for us".
And extent od Soviet infiltration into US in 1940-50s was really greater than many realise.

ewok40k said...

Whoever sends men armed with lethal weapons against crowd of angry students, deserves to be tried for criminal stupidity. Even our communist leaders back in 1980s developed quite effective nonlethal solutions to the crowd control, and martial law of 1981 went with relatively few casualties. One case is realtively similar with 13 coal miners shot when platoon of armed miltiamen (Citizens Militia  was official name of police back then) was charged by 300 or so miners wielding picks, iron bars etc.

Casey Tompkins said...

Ewok, it's arguable that the Kent State shootings caused widespread re-evaluation on methods of crowd control in the United States.

Please recall that the commies had 50 years of practice containing rioting; the United States in the 20th century, not so much.

And I repeat: it wasn't just a "crowd of angry students." It was a crowd which had spent the last two days rioting, burning down college buildings, and attacking first responders such as firefighters. If you go further back in the history of Europe, you'll find the Soviets were far less gentle with Czechoslovakia in '68, and Hungary in '56.

DG said...

Which still shows a significant failure - the protests should be been stopped the minute they became violent, not allowed to continue. The longer you let a mob continue its actions, the more confident its members will get and the more organized its leaders will be.

ewok40k said...

Well, one thing is sure, the difference is in US there was investigation into NG failures, in communist states there was trial of miners for attacking the law enforcement... only after 1989 there was reverse trial of militiamen... as for the riots themselves, they are almost always result of the authorities failing to communicate with society. Tea parties have a potential to turn into riots, you know...

Anonymous said...

As I recall, Sandra Scheuer had just wheelchaired a handicaped person to their residence and was walking across campus to return to her dorm.  I had the good fortune to meet her and her roommate the week before.  Both were wonderful young women who were neither radical nor violent and, I don't believe, especially political.  Both were studying some form of medical caregiving.  I also knew one of the guardsmen who was there.  They were just kids.  He reported that some were excited and were carrying - or wanted to carry - personal non-regulation weapons; some had no experience of campus life or that social class and were "uncomfortable" at best; some did not want to be around it and arranged to have other duty, like cooking.  They, and their immediate and general officers, were absolutely untrained for this duty.  It was a very sad event ginned-up by anarchic sophomoric intellectuals on the left [who were "go'en to CHANGE the world" - sound familiar?] and an opportunistic governor and state officials and their ill-equipped staffs and senior and junior Army Reserve officers.  It was a sad and needlessly painful day and remembrance.
Phil K.

cdrsalamander said...

You officially bore me.

UltimaRatioRegis said...


"<span>extent of Soviet infiltration into US in 1940-50s was really greater than many realise"...</span>

Far greater than we ourselves may ever dare admit.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, protecting our rights. Remind me again how carpet bombing villages in Vietnam protected any American's rights? Oh wait, they didn't. Vietnam vets got spat upon and called "baby killer" for a very good reason: because they killed babies.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Guest, may you be condemned for all eternity to walk down a booby-trapped jungle trail or a foot patrol down a side street in Ramadi in the 125 degree heat.  I can't decide which is more despicable, your ignorance or your cowardice. 

ewok40k said...

@ Guest: There were baby-killers in Vietnam - just on the other side. When RVN police force was mobilized on the day of Tet'68 VC hit squads eliminated the targets they encountered at home - families. 6000 people executed in Hue was another mass crime VC got away with - at least in the eyes of the public opinion in the west, because not many survived Tet offensive, thanks to US troops, too.

Byron said...

Hey, chump! Nice work there, hiding behind the anonymous veil of "Guest" while stroll in here and throw a bag of shit on the people who have bled and died to protect your right to be a pocking meathead. How about going out to the airport and do like your brethren did in the late 60's and early 70's, and spit on returning service members? I expect you'll get the shit beat out of you. I can guarantee you if I happen to see it, it'll be worth a couple nights in jail.

Combat NFO said...

Byron, did you read to the end?  He signed it with more than just his first name.  If you know much about Kent, you'd know it was a very odd situation, and has rarely if ever been portrayed accurately for either side.  I understand you're upset that your country didn't support Vietnam vets, but that's the fault of "The Greatest Generation," not any one individual.

Byron said...

1) I was replying to "guest" at 10:51 last night.
2) Bite me, troll

Combat NFO said...

Byron, you're quite the gentleman.  Name calling, sad.

MR T's Haircut said...

<span>umm.. You jibber jabber, jive talking fool!  You need to get back into your suburu and leave before you say something even more stupid than your last comment.</span>

guest said...

then there is this: