WEB EXCLUSIVE COLUMN: ‘Flowers are better than bullets’

Justin Stine

Allison Beth Krause was a 19-year-old freshman at Kent State in 1970. She was approximately 343 feet away when she was shot and killed by the Ohio National Guard on May 4.

Allison held several jobs that were uncommon for kids her age. During the summer after her 10th grade year, Allison worked with mentally disabled children. During 1968, she often volunteered at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, a mental institution in Washington.

Allison spent her high school years attending John F. Kennedy High School in Wheaton, Md. She graduated in the spring of 1969 near the top of her class. She consistently maintained a B average and was accepted into the Honors College at Kent State.

Allison was a rather tall girl, standing 5 feet 8 inches. She had long, dark brown hair and brown eyes. She lived in a single room on the third floor of Engleman Hall. Allison always walked around campus barefoot, carrying her cat with her.

Shortly after the fall semester began, Allison met Barry Levine. They quickly became fascinated with each other and became inseparable.

“I’ll stay with him forever,” Allison once told a friend.

After being at Kent State for a while, Allison began to feel tied down. She had plans to transfer to a school in Buffalo, N.Y., for the ensuing fall quarter. Barry was going to transfer with her, and Jeffrey Miller, her friend, was also thinking of making the change. Jeffrey was killed on May 4, too, just across the parking lot where Allison fell.

Allison loved to read. She felt that fictional books were “a waste of time” and preferred books with deeper meaning. She became increasingly interested in reading books that dealt with current political issues.

On April 30, exactly one week after her 19th birthday, Allison and Barry joined several other students in the television lounge of Moulton Hall to watch President Nixon’s speech in which he explained that American troops were heading into Cambodia. Barry said Allison wanted to send a telegram to Nixon saying that the invasion of Cambodia was an “outright crime.”

Two days later, on the evening of Saturday, May 2, curiosity led Barry and Allison to walk down to the Commons area. When students set fire to the ROTC building later that evening, the two of them watched from a nearby residence hall.

“She was against the war, but she was against this, too,” Barry said. “She said this was not right. This solved nothing.”

On the afternoon of May 3, Barry and Allison took a walk around campus. Allison had a confrontation with two of the guardsmen. A man in uniform, standing at attention, had a lilac flower in the barrel of his gun. As Allison was walking by, the commanding officer removed the flower. Allison ran up to the men and snatched the flower away from the commanding officer. “What’s the matter with peace,” she said. “Flowers are better than bullets.”

On Monday, May 4, Barry and Allison attended the rally, which began at noon. Just before the shots were fired, they decided to leave. Barry grabbed Allison’s right hand, and they started to walk away.

As the shots flew, they ducked behind cars. Allison was hit under her left arm. When the ambulance arrived, the paramedics quickly put Allison on the stretcher and loaded her in to the ambulance. Barry hopped in the ambulance with her. When he jumped in, he saw the face of their friend Jeffrey Miller, who was already dead.

Justin Stine is an electronic media productions major, the treasurer of the May 4 Task Force and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].