Group organizes against open-carry march

Andrew Atkins

A small group of students gathered to make their voices heard by participants of an open-carry gun walk on Kent State’s campus Saturday.

Junior international relations major Liz Schmidt said she got an email from the university Friday morning about the walk. In response to the email, Schmidt and senior applied conflict management major Benjamin Smith made a Facebook event page to organize a protest.

“I don’t like the idea of open carry or concealed carry in an educational area on a college campus,” Smith said. “That, coupled with the history of Kent State and how big of an impact that guns had on the history of this campus, I just found it incredibly disrespectful and in my opinion, irreverent.”

Schmidt shared similar sentiments.“We can say Jeffrey, Allison, William, and Sandra’s names as much as we want, but if we forget the lessons that we should have learned from their deaths, that peaceful dialogue ends when you pick up a gun, then we are forgetting them.”

Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandy Scheuer were the four Kent State students killed on May 4, 1970, when Ohio National Guardsmen opened fire on the crowd protesting the expansion into Cambodia form the Vietnam War.

Co-chair of the May 4 Task Force and junior English major Alyssa Gage said that she was shocked that participants in the walk were legally allowed to open-carry on campus.

“It was completely legal for the national guard to be on campus on May 4, 1970, and students still died,” Gage said. “We can’t keep thinking that just because something is legal it means it’s morally right.”

When the participants in the open-carry walk made it over the hill and into the line of site of the protestors, freshman integrated language arts major Abbey Jones,  senior visual communication design major Julia Holmberg, and senior electronic media production major Karen Isaacs began chanting “flowers are better than bullets.”

Isaacs began crying.

“I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed,” she said.

Retired professor Jerry Lewis, who was present during the May 4 shootings, guided the open-carry walk participants around to where the bodies of the victims fell and ended at the memorial. While Lewis spoke at the memorial, Schmidt passed out flowers to participants of the walk. Nearby, the other protestors held signs that said things like “#notonourcampus,” the names of the May 4 victims, and Allison Krause’s quote, “flowers are better than bullets.”

Holmberg said that she, Isaacs, and Jones remained at the site where Allison Krause fell until the last gun left to show their respect for her life. While they waited, Lewis finished speaking and some of the participants in the open-carry walk approached the protesters and asked them if flowers would protect them from bullets.

Isaacs said she remembered what happened to those killed on May 4 when she saw the open-carry walk participants.

“I found it extremely disrespectful that these people were coming to a campus that has so much bloodshed and so much devastation to it,” Isaacs said.