Kevin Fagan, Chronicle
July 31, 2010
It happened a long time ago in a state on the other side of the
country, but the day Ohio National Guardsmen killed four students at
Kent State University during an anti-war protest is still a fresh
hurt for Laurel Krause.
Her sister, 19-year-old freshman Allison Krause, was one of those
killed in what became a tragic touchstone for protests against the
Vietnam War. Now, 40 years after the May 4, 1970, shootings that also
left nine wounded, Krause has launched a personal project to collect
a video history of the event.
The 55-year-old Mendocino County woman will be coming to San
Francisco on Aug. 7 and 8 to set up a camera and record the
testimonials of anyone who was at the shootings or was directly
affected by them. Witnesses, people who were wounded, relatives of
victims, teachers, administrators, National Guardsmen - they're all
welcome, she said.
The event will be webcast live from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day on
Krause, an environment blogger, is calling her project "The Kent
State Truth Tribunal." Her first collection of oral histories - about
70 in all - was recorded in early May at Kent State, when the
university was commemorating the 40th anniversary of the killings.
After San Francisco she intends to record more recollections in New
York City on Sept. 25 and 26.
Co-directing the project with Krause is filmmaker Emily Kunstler,
daughter of the late civil rights lawyer William Kunstler.
"Based on what we've been told over the years, we think the
second-largest group of participants and witnesses to the shootings
is in California, and we expect people to come from this state,
Washington, Oregon and anywhere else nearby," Krause said. "We are
hoping to get all sides of the story. We want the whole truth to come
out about these shootings."
In 1990, then-Ohio Gov. Richard Celeste apologized publicly for the
shootings, but nobody was ever officially held accountable for the
killings. Varying accounts have been offered over the years of
whether the National Guardsmen were ordered to open fire on the
anti-war protesters or did so spontaneously.
Krause is convinced the shooting was deliberate. She wants an apology
from the federal government, because the U.S. invasion of Cambodia
during the Vietnam War was what precipitated the protests that led to
"Even 40 years later, it's still a horrible thing for me and my
family," Krause said. "Allison was my only sibling. She wanted to be
an art therapist. And I can never, ever see her again."
Krause intends to give her collection to a library at New York University.
Earlier this year, the shooting site at Kent State was added to the
National Register of Historic Places, and the university started a
walking tour of it. The school's library already has more than two
floors worth of archives, including 100 oral histories, devoted to
the shootings - but its archivists pick no sides in the historical
debate, said Cara Gilgenbach, head of special collections and archives.
"There are many varying narratives of what occurred," she said.
Find out more
To find out more about the tribunal event in San Francisco, and to
register to give a testimonial, go to truthtribunal.org.
E-mail Kevin Fagan at email@example.com.