Kent State shooting survivor Alan Canfora dies at 71


Kent State student Alan Canfora waves a flag at National Guardsmen on a practice field near Prentice Hall on the Kent State campus, May 4, 1970. Moments later, after the Guardsmen went back up Blanket Hill, they turned and fired on students and protesters, killing four students and wounding Canfora and eight others.

Akron Beacon Journal/AP

Alan Canfora, who was one of nine students who were wounded in the 1970 Kent State shootings but survived, has died. He was 71.

Canfora died Dec. 20 at home from an illness unrelated to COVID-19, according to a Facebook post by his sister, Chic Canfora.

“It is with immense sadness that I share news of the passing of my beloved brother, Alan Canfora — a devastating loss to our family, friends and the Kent State/May 4 community,” she wrote in the post as reported by the Akron Beacon Journal.

As a junior at Kent State, Canfora was one of the hundreds of students who protested at the Ohio campus May 1-4. They were demonstrating against the Vietnam War and the National Guard’s presence on their campus.

The Guardsmen fired on unarmed protesters May 4. Canfora was shot in the right wrist in the first 13 seconds. Four students — Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Lee Scheuer and William Schroeder — were killed.

The shootings marked a turning of the tide in popular opposition to the war.

Canfora was raised in Barberton, Ohio, and was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, a national left-wing organization. He protested the Vietnam War twice in Washington, and in 1969 was part of the SDS group that confronted Kent State police with anti-war demands.

Canfora said the death of a classmate, Bill Caldwell, in Vietnam in April 1970 fueled his anger over the war.

Canfora was a founding member of the May 4th Task Force, served as a Summit County Elections commissioner for several decades, led the Barberton Democratic Party, and has been the director of the Akron Law Library since 2011.