Dave Airhart, freshman anthropology major and Kent State Anti-War Committee member, will face possible expulsion today in a hearing with Judicial Affairs. He is charged with disorderly conduct, specifically endangering his life and the lives of others for his actions on Oct. 19.
Airhart, a former Marine and veteran of both the war in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, climbed to the top of an Army recruitment rock wall and draped a banner that read: “Kent, Ohio 4 Peace.” He was chased off the wall by recruiters, one of them grabbing his shirt while he climbed down. Airhart was apprehended by police shortly after, temporarily being placed in an officer’s cruiser, and was fined $105. He joined the KSAWC’s peaceful protest against the recruiters after the police officers released him.
Airhart’s possible expulsion has been the subject of much publicity. KSAWC has hung posters on message boards throughout campus in an effort to rally support for him, and an online petition addressed to the Kent State University Administration has received over 890 signatures from students across the nation, according to petitiononline.com. The petition calls for a suspension of all proceedings against Airhart.
Speaking at the 2005 Midwest Socialism Conference in Chicago, Airhart recapped his military service and told of disregard for civilians’ lives and prisoners’ rights that led to his opposition to the war.
“I spent four months in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and six months in Iraq and seven months in Afghanistan, so I have a pretty well-rounded perspective of everything that’s going on in this War on Terror,” he said.
Airhart went on to tell of a memory of soldiers deliberately killing a truck driver to get his cargo.
“And after that, I was an extreme, I guess, sort of anti-war marine,” he said, to applause.
After leaving the military, Airhart sought out a school that was agreeable to his distaste for the military.
“One of the most significant reasons I decided to go to Kent State was because it has such a rich history of being a strong anti-war school,” he said.
In an interview with the political newsletter Counterpunch, Airhart pledged that he and KSAWC will continue their efforts.
“KSAWC is trying to protect ourselves and the entire campus from being sent to die in an unjust war. We will continue to do actions that aid in removing military recruiters from campus,” he said.
One of the largest military presence on campus, the Army ROTC, had no comment on Airhart’s hearing.
His hearing is at 2 p.m today.
Contact news correspondent Derek Lenehan at [email protected]