Voices from yesterday’s May 4 commemoration ceremony

‘Allison thought that the actions of the U.S. government were wrong.’

Before the riots all began, Allison Krause called her parents to warn them of the riots. Laurel Krause, Allison’s younger sister, said they told Allison to be cautious and asked her to back out of the protests, though her ideals pushed her to continue.

Allison was killed during the 13 seconds of shooting, by dum dum bullets, which during this time were illegal in warfare. She died in her boyfriend Barry’s arms.

“She was murdered by the Ohio National Guard,” Krause said.

Allison was a freshman Honors student, who was a firm activist in what she thought was right.

“Allison thought the actions of the U.S. government were wrong,” Krause said.

Krause remembered how inspired and driven Allison was by her truths.

After the actions of May 4,1970, Allison’s parents decided to follow their truths and went to court; their case went all the way to the Supreme Court where the government issued a statement of regret.

“Allison spoke, participated in and died for what she believed in,” Krause said. “She inspired me to believe that the world can be changed by one person, just like you and me.”

– Laura Cordle

‘There are plenty of reasons to weep, but we won’t get anything done.’

In his first visit to Kent State, Lawrence “Pun” Plamondon, a Native American activist and co-founder of the White Panther Party, said he wept at the candle light vigil Sunday night in the Prentice parking lot.

“There are plenty of reasons to weep, but we won’t get anything done,” Plamondon said. “I wept in a way because I couldn’t stop this.”

He said the people who made a difference during the 1960s and ’70s were the ones who refused to be drafted.

“Middle class boys stood up and stood on principles,” he said.

Plamondon also spoke about his indictment on the charges of bombing a CIA office in Ann Arbor, Mich., on Sept. 29, 1968. He said after learning of the charges, he fled to Canada and eventually to Algeria. He came back to the United States in May 1969 and police arrested him.

During his Supreme Court trial, he said government officials admitted to wiretapping him without a warrant, which led to the dismissal of his case.

The court that tried Plamondon made its decision on June 17, 1972, the same day the Watergate break-in occurred. He said the break-in occurred because people from the Nixon administration were retrieving (then-considered) illegal wiretaps in the Democratic Party’s National Committee offices.

He said he doesn’t admit to bombing or not bombing, but the person who did set forth the action of bringing down Nixon.

– Anthony Holloway

‘For 25 years I avoided Mary Ann because I thought I had ruined her life.’

John Filo was a senior photojournalism major at Kent State University when the events of May 4, 1970 occurred. His picture of the screaming girl, Mary Ann Vecchio, standing over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller has won a Pulitzer Prize and recognition throughout the world.

Filo spoke yesterday at the May 4 commemoration. It was the first time since the shooting that Vecchio and Filo were on campus together.

“For 25 years I avoided talking to Mary Ann because I thought I had ruined her life.” Filo said.

Filo was working on his senior portfolio all weekend and had missed the events leading up to that Monday’s protests. He said he was disappointed. When he told his professors this, they told him to leave to take pictures for only an hour and come back with two different perspectives of the day. Instead, he captured a photo that changed the perspective of the entire world.

After the shooting took place, Filo remembered having feelings of relief that he was lucky enough not to have been shot.

Filo said he saw an Ohio National Guardsman point a rifle at him.

“I thought they were blanks,” Filo said of the bullets.

He remembered the overwhelming feeling of helplessness and called the shootings an “execution without a trial.”

“Sometimes there is no help, but there is always hope,” Filo said.

– Rebecca Micco

‘I have a chance to go out there and save peoples’ lives. I couldn’t do anything that day.’

Sun shone down on the people covering the field and hillside where students stood 39 years ago in the presence of the Ohio National Guard. Mary Ann Vecchio, the subject of John Filo’s Pulitzer Prize photo of May 4, 1970, walked up the ramp, passing Filo as he walked back to his seat after leaving the podium.

“This is the milestone,” Vecchio said.

Vecchio said reflection on the events of May 4 is clearer every year she comes back.

She said the late ’60s and early ’70s were a crossroad for students and parents of the time because their beliefs clashed, pitting them against one another with the government influencing the parents’ beliefs.

Vecchio, who was a 14-year-old runaway at the time of the shootings, said neither the parents nor the students were wrong in their beliefs.

She said it was now time for healing to begin, and she called for President Lester Lefton, congressmen and President Barack Obama to come mend the wounds of May 4, 1970, by attending next year’s 40th anniversary commemoration.

Vecchio said after May 4, she turned her life around by going back to school and getting her GED. She returned to school to become a massage therapist, and later went on to become a respiratory therapist.

“I have a chance to go out there and save peoples’ lives,” Vecchio said. “I couldn’t do anything that day.”

– Anthony Holloway