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Barry Levine
Allison Krause

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Good afternoon. I don't know how many of you are aware of this. Allison was planning on being here today. But, unfortunately, because of a prior engagement, she was unable to make it. So she sent me instead.

You see, thirty years ago on this very spot that we stand Allison Krause was engaged in exercising her right of free speech. And apparently, something that was said that day was so threatening to some people, that they decided...some even say deny her the right to be here today and to deny us the pleasure of having her here today.

Now, I think we should make no mistake about it. What happened here thirty years ago had very little to do with rocks and bottles and snipers. It had everything to do with the right of free speech and the right of assembly and the suppression of those rights.

About a week after the the shooting Richard Nixon made a public statement in which he said, "When dissent turns to violence it invites tragedy." And I would like to suggest today what he probably mean to say is that when a government interferes with the free flow of ideas and when a government suppresses the right of its citizens to speak freely and to assemble peacefully, that government invites tragedy and in so doing it takes responsibility for any violence that might ensue.

I didn't come here today to lecture you about the politics of 1970. I 'm sure that before the day's over you are going to hear more on that subject than you care to hear, but you're not going to hear it from me. Instead I came here today to just take a few moments and share a few thoughts with you about this girl Allison Krause. I thought it would be appropriate on this day in particular and on this spot in particular to talk a little bit about what she was like when she was a student here and sat on this hill where you sit and walled these paths where you now stand.

And I was just told when I got here that this speaking schedule is a little bit tight and I should keep my comments brief. So the one or two stories that I had planned to tell you, I'm sorry to say, are going to have to wait for another time. [Shouts of NO! NO! NO! by the audience-Barry chuckles]

What I would like to do is take a moment to let you know that, if Allison were here today, she would thank all of you for being here, for sitting and for listening, those of you who organize, for organizing, and those who are here just participation, she would thank you for just being here. Your very presence here makes a very important statement, a statement that needs to be made this year and in following years, "That the world should never forget what happened here thirty years ago."

But I've got to tell you that if she was here she would also be reminding us of something else. And that is that we should not become too smug about these ceremonies and about these memorials and about these markers that have been erected. They are all very nice and they're very much appreciated.

But, if we're here to remember those things we need to also remember a few other things and that's the voice that I hear in my ear, of Allison telling me that Barry, "Remember that there's a man here today who hasn't walked for thirty years and, as far as I know, thirty years later, no one has taken responsiblity for that."   And there are eight other men here today. [Applause] There are eight other men here today whose physical wounds may have healed, but clearly, they'll be carrying emotional scars for the rest of their lives. And as far as I know, to this date, thirty years later, no one has been held accountable for that!

And then there's Bill Schroeder and there's Sandy Scheuer and Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause. Four young people whose lives ended much, much, much too soon. And we all know that their tragic loss of life was unnecessary. It was unwarranted and it was inexcusable.

But the fact remains that thirty years later [A child wanders onto the stage and distracts Barry]. As we stand here thirty years later, the very men who took their lives, actually have been excused. So. if we're going to stand here today and we're going to ask the world to remember and never to forget the tragedy that occurred on May 4, 1970, I think we damn well better ask the world to remember and to never forget the tragedy that has occurred since that date. And the tragedy that has occurred since that date is the fact that nobody has been held accountable for what happened here thirty years ago.

They say that time heals all wounds and thirty years is a long time. Memories fade and wounds do heal. But this wound will never heal completely. And nor do I think that we should allow tie To heal completely until somebody stands up and is held accountable for the blood that spilled on this campus.

And if any of you are having difficulty who to nominate for that honor, I'd like to help you. In closing, I'd like to read you something that was written in honor of Allison and in her memory. It's a poem. It's based on a previous work by one of Allison's favorite contemporary American poets, Robert Zimmerman. It's called, "Who Killed Allison?", but when you hear it, you should know that it could have just as easily be called, "Who Killed Allison and Who Killed Bill and Who Killed Sandy and Who Killed Jeff?". And when you hear it, I'd like you to keep that in mind, And so I would like to read it for you now so that maybe you can hear her voice speaking out from this campus one last time.

Who Killed Allison? Why? What had she done?

Not us says the Kent Townsfolk.
Those rotten students thought this was some kind of joke
Marchin and yellin, and singing those songs,
Why wasn't she in class where she belonged?
Her parents shoulda learned her better.
Those stinkin kids-don't appreciate what they've got
If it had been up to us, they would have all been shot.
You can say what you want, and say what you must
Just don't point your fingers at us
We're not the ones who made her fall
No, you can't blame us at all.


Who Killed Allison? Why? What had she done?

Not us says the University
That girl was here to get a degree
To Inquire, To Learn, To reflect, and debate.
It wasn't her place to demonstrate - against the State
If she had something to say,
She should have said it clear
In a paper, or in the classroom, where free speech is dear.
And no one can hear, and no one can hear.
Sure she was an honor student, but she should have known better
Than to stand up and speak out in public, where did that get her?
There is a time and a place for freedom of speech
She should have known that because that's what we teach
Here at Kent State University.
But please, don't' point your finger at us
We are not the ones that made her fall,
No, you can't blame us at all.

Who Killed Allison? Why? What had she done?

Not me says the Mayor of Kent
If only those kids knew what it had meant
To burn down ROTC- they left me no choice
They were all chanting "End the war" in one loud voice
I had to call the Guard- it was hard, it was hard,
But I tell you, we needed Law and Order
And anyway, she wasn't my daughter
It's a a shame she had to die that day
But when you throw rocks, well, that's just the American way.
I feel bad, I do, but I didn't pull that trigger
It wasn't me that made her fall
No, you can't blame me at all.

Who Killed Allison? Why? What had she done?

Not me says Tricky Dick
I listened to my advisors, take your pick
Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean
Agnew, and Colson, they all knew the scene
Those college kids were bums-they needed a lesson
So I put out the word around this great land
To stop those damn hoodlums any way that you can
And Rhodes, he heard me, thank g-d for that
He knew exactly what to do with that group of brats
But you can't pin it on me, don't' you see?
It wasn't' me that made her fall
No, you can't blame me at all.

Who Killed Allison? Why? What had she done?

Not me says Governor Rhodes
The man who made this whole thing explode
Yes, I'm the son of a bitch who pounded the table
and ranted and raved until everyone was able
to hear me call those students Brown Shirts,
the worst element that we harbor in America today
But that was my job, to incite the Guard, and I did it OK
If those kids wanted a riot to create,
They picked the wrong town, they picked the wrong state.
There will be no riots in the State of Ohio, not on my watch, not on this date
Look, the Guard got my meaning , the Guard got my drift
They did what they had to- they laid 'em out stiff.
Its a shame it had to be that way, but who's to know and who's to say
It might have been different had it not been election day.
So what are you going to do? Sue me?
I'm not the one that made the call
And I'm not the one that made her fall
So Fuck You, you can't blame me at all

Who Killed Allison? Why? What had she done?
Not us says the National Guard
Who chased those kids across the yard,
And through the fields so thick with gas
With our bayonets fixed, it became certain, there was no doubt
We would teach those little bastards what Law and Order was all about
Yes, we're the ones that climbed the hill and turned in our tracks
And aimed our rifles dead center in her back
But if we didn't act, she would have overrun us for sure,
There were snipers, she had rocks, and those curses that we endured.
We had no choice, we had to act- it was her life or ours
Yes we shot her in cold blood, it's true, it's true,
But that is what we were told to do
Don't say "murder," don't' say "kill"

We were only following orders, it was  God's will.

Other May 4, 2000 Speeches
Barry Levine on Allison Krause | Ramona Africa | Wendy Semon-Introduction | Julliette Beck | Julia Butterfly Hill | Vernon Bellecourt | Noam Chomsky

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