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Family of May 4 Victim Says New Visitors Center Presents Unbalanced View of Kent State Shootings

Family of Allison Krause, 1 of 4 students killed on May 4, 1970, says new visitors center omits critical elements of shootings

The new May 4 Visitors Center opening to the public today at Kent State University has some opposition from the family of one of the four students shot and killed by Ohio National Guardsmen 42 years ago.

Laurel Krause, the sister of Allison Krause, who died on campus May 4, 1970 after being shot by guard troops, said the new visitors center does not tell the whole story about what happened that day when four students were killed and nine others wounded following a student protest against the war in Vietnam.

"Any exhibit is good if it’s talking about Kent State," Laurel Krause said. "But when it’s only more of the same cover-up, my only word on that is: shame."

Krause said the new exhibit fails to address several key elements of the shootings, including: a 2010 analysis of an original audio recording of the shootings that the analyst concluded includes an order to fire by the guard; the involvement of the federal government in possibly instigating the shootings and then covering up its involvement; and the role of FBI informant Terry Norman.

"This points to very devious situations going on at Kent State that the students were highly unaware of. They did not know they were risking their lives that day," Krause said. "There's no commentary about the truth of what really happened."

The $1.1 million visitors center, located in Taylor Hall near the site of the shootings, was designed by Gallagher and Associates, based in Silver Spring, Md., with input from faculty and students at Kent State. The actual contents — dozens of artifacts, photographs, articles and videos — and design of the center were determined over several years via multiple public meetings and analysis of the available historical records.

It features a three-gallery layout with the first gallery setting the tone of the 1960s and events leading to May 4, 1970. The second gallery explains in detail the timeline of events of the actual shootings, and the third gallery reflects on the shootings with videos, news clippings and statements given both past and present from witnesses, government and university officials and civil rights leaders.

Laura Davis, director of the May 4 Visitors Center, said the center does briefly address the audio analysis of what's known as the Strubbe Tape, so named for the student who's recorder captured the melee. But the center does not address what role Norman may have played, nor does it address Krause's assertions about the FBI's involvement.

"There are a lot of things about which you could say a lot more," she said. "So what we included were the best documented facts.

"There are a lot of different theories about what Terry Norman’s role in the event was," Davis said. "He may have something to do with the story directly. He may not. There’s a lot of different information about him, and there’s no certainty at this point in terms of what the documented facts were about what his role really was, other than he was working for the FBI."

The Strubbe Tape and whether it reveals an order to fire is briefly addressed in a film in the second gallery of the visitors center.

"Some accept evidence of an order to fire,” the film states. “Some do not."

Krause, who now lives in California, founded the Kent State Truth Tribunal in 2010. Its goal was, via three gatherings, "to record, preserve and honor the personal narratives of original witnesses and participants of the Kent State Massacre, May 4, 1970," according to its website.

Krause said that's another important element of reflecting upon the shootings that's left out of the new center.

"We’re not opposed to a truthful, information disseminating visitors center about what happened on May 4, 1970," she said. "In fact we support truth, justice for Kent State."

Today marks the first time the new center is open to the public, and the opening coincides with homecoming festivities at Kent State. A formal dedication of the center will be held during the annual May 4 commemoration in 2013.

Davis said the visitors center could evolve in the future to include new evidence and information about the shootings as it is revealed.

"This is a living story," Davis said. "A story about which we’ll probably know more in the future, and I’m sure that would be addressed some way in the museum. It does present a fair view. It relies on well-researched, well-documented, well-substantied information.”

soldiermom11 October 20, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I am old enough to remember this day. I was a college kid in Maryland. My conclusion is that the National Guard was not properly prepared or trained for crowd control. That is a leadership problem. Commanders should have been on top of their game as demonstrating and riots were becoming more and more frequent. They should not have had live bullets but something more non lethal like rubber or paint ball bullets or water. Sadly, it was before police had learned to adapt to the new world we were living in then. I mourn for the families that lost loved ones that day but I would guess that the shooters are effected badly too even unto this day. It was a very sad day for everyone. If Kent wants to help people learn what happened that day, both sides of the story should be told so that both sides are better prepared to avoid repeating history. but that's just my opinion.
Pat October 20, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Give me a break--I lived through May 4th and I am so tired of others who never were here complaining about this or that.
Frederick John Kluth October 20, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I am pleased that this exhibit is open. Considering the stories I have heard living in Kent for over 35 years I can say that the controversy is still quite strong and this must be respected. There is much to be learned from the May 4 Massacre and I am glad that some effort is being made to educate the public. I think much more could be done.
Traci Monroe October 20, 2012 at 03:59 PM
The only "cover-up" is blaming the National Guard for what the protestors brought on themselves. The townspeople were sick and tired of being harassed, spit on and cursed at for months prior to and culminating in the destruction of the downtown area on May 1st, they had had enough and wanted something done.
David Badagnani October 20, 2012 at 04:07 PM
the student *whose recorder
William A. Gordon October 20, 2012 at 10:31 PM
I, too, was disappointed with some aspects of the center, especially its glossing over the failure to hold anyone accountable and Kent State's scholars's attempts to erase from history all my contributions to our understanding of the event. The center's handout booklet ("This We Know") does not even acknowledge my book ("Four Dead In Ohio"), even though it has been used in 9 or 10 other universities and is considered the most comprehensive and most brutally honest account of the tragedy to date. Nor was I pleased that the only book in the Center was the Center's co- founders own book. No one picked up on that conflict of interest. There were 28 books written about the tragedy and it is only fair that every one of them be displayed. By the same token, I would never accuse the university of trying to cover up the tragedy. The center is, after all, simply the best you can expect from the university, which, 42 years later, still feels it has to duck any issue that is remotely controversial. The university has also learned to use May 4 as a tool to promote itself, so no criticisms are allowed. It seems as if every party still involved with May 4 remembrances is using the tragedy to promote themselves or their own personal agendas. I have never met so many self-absorbed and selfish people in my life, and I used to live in Hollywood!
Traci Monroe October 21, 2012 at 12:33 AM
The only books that should be there are ones written by people who actually lived in Kent at that time, or students who went to Kent State at that time.
Rick October 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM
"What a bunch of BS.Peaceful demonstrations???????????Try telling that to the business owners in Kent that had their stores trashed, vandalized, or to the people who had cars burned and many other problems that these peaceful brats did to have the ONG brought in.Oh yeah and the School Admin in having the ROTC building torched and how these peaceful brats cut the hoses of the fire departments trying to put out these fires.I would hope this is all put into this Visitor Center idolizing these peaceful protesters.
Pat October 21, 2012 at 01:58 PM
The Kent Police was notified that there maybe protests as did several other colleges in the country. The towns people were so tired of the roady students even before the riots in down town Kent. As far as rubber bullets--well there weren't any such things 40 years ago. Let see the Chicago 7 were in Kent to start all the riots, they threatened to put acid in the city water system, blow up the Post Office, bomb the mill and with only 15 police officers including the Chief, they had to call in the National Guard. Yes I hope the real true story is told in the new building, but I feel sure it is not..
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! October 21, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Naturally, shooting and killing is the only and best option.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! October 21, 2012 at 05:21 PM
You lived through it. Not everyone did.
The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! October 21, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Traci, you really hate those students. I'm so sorry. Was your child sent over to Vietnam? Your friends? Your brother? Your nephew?
Lee Mattocks January 30, 2013 at 09:35 PM
Chicago 7? Who cares? That justifies the National Guard for doing what they did because of 7 other people that were doing wrong? Please, get your story straight. These were kids that had their life in front of them and to be gunned down by our own and then to cover the truth up, is WRONG!
toprat matovich April 28, 2013 at 10:01 PM
True the kids did not deserve death. The kids need to own that they caused caos, damage, riots and started fires and they behavior cannot be tolerated. But not one kid from that era owns their part in all of that.
toprat matovich April 28, 2013 at 10:02 PM
Great points Rick!
Laurel Krause May 03, 2013 at 03:52 PM
4/3/13 Kent State Makes It to the United Nations, Human Rights Committee http://bit.ly/12r6F68
Matt Courtman May 06, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Thank you so much for all of your efforts Ms. Krause. You have my deepest sympathies for your loss. My wife and I visited KSU for the first time last year, We were shocked by the sheer geometry of the event. That the Guardsmen were on top of a hill, and that the students were below them and so far away, shows that the Guardsmen could not have reasonably felt endangered by those whom they killed. My wife and I both broke out in tears when we discovered this simple fact. Aside from the overwhelming tragedy, we were SO angry that the relative locations of the shooters and their victims had never been published in ANY of the many accounts which we had read. As for those of you blaming "the kids" in this forum, do you have any evidence that ANY of the four people killed had engaged in the "mayhem" you described? Even if they had, that certainly would not have warranted execution, but your "reasoning" in justifying their deaths is disgusting.
Matt Courtman May 06, 2013 at 07:24 PM
I hope that this site brings justice.
Balertwine May 17, 2013 at 02:34 AM
Two of the students killed by National Guardsmen were not involved in the protests, were passers-by, and were 300 - 370 feet away from the National Guard. The National Guard were not surrounded by a rock-throwing angry mob. The closest student shot was 60 feet away from the National Guard, was shot twice, and survived. The National Guard opened fire in the direction of a parking lot 270 feet away at the nearest. Now if you believe in guilt by association, I suppose you can invent some way to justify shooting students who were not putting the National Guard in harm's way at the time of the shootings. After someone in a town took a shot at Saddam Hussein, his army opened fire and killed 140 townspeople. Now you know that maybe these students shot weren't the ones who broke windows or burned down the R.O.T.C. building a day or two earlier, but Rick, they had it coming, right? Rick, I've had a lot of problems with people in Kent, and I know you may or may not be the one who's caused these problems, but what is your address? I'd like to send the National Guard over.
Paul May 17, 2013 at 03:55 AM
This is the same story every year. Fact, how many of you slow down while driving by a crash on the highway? Gawkers are what they are called. If you wanted to be safe in a violent situation you AVOID the situation. To say those killed had no idea things were going on and just happened to be walking oblivious to the situation are lying to themselves. If you want to avoid being involved then don't stop by to gawk. Was this a tragedy, yes it was. This was kids vs. kids and things went terribly wrong. We all know what curiosity did to the cat.
Laurel Krause May 17, 2013 at 03:36 PM
ON THE EVENING of May 4, 2013 on the Kent State Univ campus, creators of the new visitor center at Kent State Univ STATED ONSTAGE they received $350,000 in a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as they chronicled their funding. Yet in 2011 the Kent State University-reported figure was $300,000, so we looked it up & our findings are true: the announcement of the KSU visitor center's first major contribution was $300,000, not $350.000. In 2013 KSU's grant grew by $50,000. http://bit.ly/IR5p6v Then there's the >$800,000 raised by Kent State Univ to complete the $1.1mil visitor center they say came from satellite campuses of Kent State University. >$800,000 raised from satellite campuses of this mid-tier Ohio state university? In this economy? Amazing fundraising. What's so important for Kent State Univ to erect their expensive May 4th exhibits? Their sensory-diminishing Kent State Univ & government-stamped multimedia version of the May 4th Kent State Massacre exhibits LITTLE TRUTH as it shows 'not a care' for JUSTICE even 43 years later. Let's allocate money toward a credible investigation of what went down May 1-4, 1970 at Kent State Univ. Until the Kent State Massacre has its 1st independent & impartial INVESTIGATION underway (like the U.K. did for Bloody Sunday 38 yrs later), all we know about the May 4th Kent State Massacre comes from reports of the US government investigating itself & controlling the narrative, even 43 yrs later.
Paul May 18, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Laurel, I am saddened for you that you have spent so much time and effort in your life dwelling on an accident that happened. I lived in Kent in 1970 until 2011 and will say there are always 3 sides to every story. Your truth, My truth, and the Actual truth. As sorry as I am for your loss I am more saddened by all of the joy you have missed out on all of these years. It is time to move on and live YOUR life and not your sisters.

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