America first heard from Arthur the day after the
shootings. When speaking with television newsmen, he expressed the sentiments of the
horribly shocked citizens of this country: "Have we come to such a state in this
country that a young girl has to be shot because she disagrees with the action of her
We stopped and listened to him. And we heard from him again. For the next four years,
Arthur continually asked for justice. He wanted someone held accountable for the death of
his daughter. He called for congressional hearings and federal investigations into the
shootings. He appealed for the right to a day in court. He pushed through the Ohio
District Court, the United States District Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals, and finally
to the U.S. Supreme Court, all the while trying to break down the wall of Ohio's sovereign
immunity law-the law that said that defendants could not be sued without first giving
their consent to such an action. But he would never back down. As Martin Scheuer, the
father of Sandy Scheuer, once told me, "Arthur was a man of principle."
In the first year of the struggle, Arthur was joined by Peter Davies, an ordinary citizen
from Staten Island, NY who had been appalled at the shootings and he himself had spent
months researching the shootings, looking for clues to explain why the
National Guard had fired:
For almost a year ... we tilted at windmills
alone, but without his dynamic strength I could not have stayed the course. Arthur's quest
was never idealistic. He was always a realist in dealing with the Nixon administration,
and despite his grief and anger, whenever we accomplished something that seemed to me a
big step forward, he would laugh and say, "that and ten cents'll get us a cup of
coffee." We had more cups of coffee than I care to remember.
Elaine Holstein, the mother of slain Jeff Miller, described
Arthur as "totally indispensable," She writes, "Indispensable--because my
life in those years after our children were killed and we struggled to find some semblance
of justice--would have been far more hellish without the Rock of Gibraltar that was Art
Krause.." In 1971, Arthur and Peter were joined by the Reverend John Adams of the
United Methodist Church. This addition to the tea had a very positive effect. As Sanford
Jay Rosen, attorney for the families in the final settlement, observes:
Two people, Arthur Krause and John Adams, are
most responsible for the measure of justice the Kent State victims and their
families have received. Arthur brought anger and passion to the cause. John brought
hope and compassion. Without these two, all would have been for naught."
Arthur's passion was so deep due to the fact that he knew
what lay at the root of the problem. As he recalled his life, he said, "I was like
everyone else, and then this happened to us." In recalling other episodes of extreme
violence in our country before May of 1970, he said:
I feel a great sense of guilt because I
realized what was going on but didnt do a damn thing about it. Like most Americans
these days, we sit on the fence and depend on the lawyer, the church, and the government
to do whatever should be done, but if the government doesn't have the right people on the
job, nothing will be done .... and we, the people, have to make the government good.
Apathy will not be part of my make-up anymore. Apathy is what caused Kent State.
In 1975, Arthur's four years of persistence paid off. The
victims' families were given their day in court. Vindication should have been forthcoming.
It was not. Elaine Holstein recounts:
It turned out to be many, many day--some of the
most painful days of my life. As we sat in the courtroom and heard our lovely children
vilified by the defendants and their lawyers ... I found myself increasingly seeking out
Art, to become healed by his unshakeable determination and common sense and--most
importantly--his humor. Even under the horrendous circumstances that brought us together
... Art's brilliant and sometimes bitter wit would break the tension and lift the
oppressive burden we all carried and we would feel the blessed relief of laughter that
enabled ...all of us to survive those terrible months.
When the verdict was announced in favor of the National
Guardsmen, it was Arthur that announced that the trial proved that the constitution had
While the families waited during the appeal process, the Kent State Administration once
again showed its insensitivity to the history of May 4, 1970. After the construction of
the gymnasium annex on Blanket Hill, which destroyed part of the site of the shootings,
Arthur Krause vowed never to step foot on the Kent State campus again.
In 1979, when the other families and victims decided on an out-of-court settlement for the
murder of their children, it was Arthur who held out on giving in to that decision the
longest. While some may have attributed this to his usual stubbornness, others attributed
it to the devoted love he had for his daughter Allison. As one of the lawyers put it,
"He doesn't want to give in to a settlement because it means he'll have to give up
Dean Kahler, shot on May 4, 1970, spoke truthfully when he told me "the sense of loss
Arthur felt for his daughter was very prevalent when you were around him. He never really
fully recuperated from her death. It was the focal point of his life and he
was determined to get justice." Tom Grace, also wounded in 1970, observes:
Without Arthur's drive, his fortitude, his
unmovable presence, the drive for justice may well have stalled. Our quest is not
finished. Yet, Arthur's efforts have allowed us, in some small measure to answer yes to
the question that Doris Krause asked nineteen years ago: "Do we say that there is
While Arthur's years in the battlefield of the United
States' court system came to an end, the pain of the loss of his daughter did not. And his
bitterness toward the Kent State administration did not fade either. Arthur told me this
past summer that he was still waiting for an official notification of Allison's death. I
am sure that he was conscious of this when he told the Ravenna Record Courier in 1986 that
the Kent State administration was "a worthless organization."
Arthurs last years were spent enduring the emotional roller coaster of the May 4
Memorial building process. And he did not keep his emotions to himself. Alan Canfora,
another student wounded in 1970, told me of some of his last conversations with Arthur:
As Arthur suffered the pain of his terminal
illness, he poignantly described his continued frustrations as a result of the cover-up of
his daughter's murder and the continued failure of Kent State University to create a
lasting memorial tribute in memory of his daughter Allison."
It's a shame that Arthur could not have observed the final
vindication of his daughter's death. But, as pointed out earlier, he was very pragmatic.
Arthur told me last July, "Anybody that would believe that Kent State University
would make any attempt to meet the desires of the Kent State families must also believe in
the tooth fairy."
What does Arthur Krause's death mean? It's too soon to know the broader ramifications in
the struggle to remember May 4. 1970. On a more personal level, Sandy Rosen says it best:
"He marked our lives, so that we are richer for having known him and much poorer now
that he is gone." Speaking for myself and all of the others who have fought against
the whitewashing of the facts of May 4, 1 feel like I've lost my father.
So how do we really pay tribute to such a man
as Arthur Krause? Words are not enough.
We could start by emulating his passion for justice. We can
remove the apathy from our own lives. We can build a proper memorial to the memory of
Allison, Bill, Jeff, and Sandy--one that is fitting to the magnitude of the event. We can
heed Arthur's own advice,
"If you don't stand up for your own rights
they will be taken away from you just like they were from Allison."You can love your
own children as Arthur loved his.