|Anti-war protest follows May 4 commemoration
By Chad Murphy
Record-Courier staff writer
As a student minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Kent during the events of May 4, 1970, William Schultz read a poem during the only memorial service to be held immediately following the events.
“All of the (other) churches refused to perform a memorial,” he said.
Thirty-five years later, Schultz, now executive director of Amnesty International, said though it may seem like the Ohio National Guard wasn’t held accountable for the shootings, the activism started and strengthened by those events will fully overcome them.
Schultz delivered the keynote address during the annual May 4 commemoration at Kent State University Wednesday.
He spoke on the lessons to be learned from the shootings, which killed four students - Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder - and wounded nine others.
He said the commonalties shared by all humans will overcome what divides people, even soldiers on opposite ends of a conflict.
“The arch of the universe is very, very long, but I promise you it eventually leads to justice,” he said.
Schultz was one of many speakers to address the crowd gathered near the Victory Bell on the KSU Commons.
Friends and relatives of the four students killed shared memories or spoke on how their deaths changed them. Two members of Students for a Democratic Society, a former student group at KSU, told how their efforts during the late 1960s laid the groundwork for student activism. And a veteran of the current war in Iraq shared his experiences in the field.
Chad Salamon, of Iraq Veterans for Peace, said he volunteered as a U.S. Army reservist at 17 because of a recruiter at Ravenna High School. He spent eight years in the Army Reserves, and didn’t think he was going to be deployed to Iraq until it was mentioned in passing as one of his monthly drills was ending.
He said he felt alone during most of his time in the reserves, mainly because he usually disagreed with what was being told to him while it seemed his fellow soldiers were blindly accepting what Salamon called propaganda. But that changed as he was being trained for Iraq.
“We grew more disgruntled by the day and morale was low,” he said.
Salamon also spoke against recruiters being allowed in high schools, saying they take advantage of teenagers’ naivet to meet their quotas.
Another speaker, Gene Young - a witness to the Jackson State University shootings in Mississippi, which happened days after May 4, 1970 -said the best way to remember the events is for people to recommit to doing their best every day.
“We can do it best by trying to make this world a better world,” he said.
Following the commemoration, an anti-war protest, organized by the Portage Community Peace Coalition and the Kent State Anti-War Committee, marched peacefully from the Commons to the gazebo in downtown Kent at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Main Street.
Mike Pacifico, Portage Peace member and one of the organizers, said a protest used to always follow the annual commemoration, but had fallen out of practice until the war in Iraq began.
“If Bush is going to wage an endless war, we are going to wage an endless peace movement,” he said.
Pacifico said in the s, people would come to protests to find out the latest information or to be with those of like-minds. While much of that has been taken over by the Internet and cell phones, he thinks the protests are working to get out the message.
“We get more honks (of support) than we get fingers,” he said.
And, while he voted for John Kerry in November, Pacifico said Kerry was not an anti-war Democrat and if he had been elected it wouldn’t have changed anything about Portage Peace activities.
Carrying a mock coffin draped in an American flag, protesters chanted slogans against President Bush and his administration and claimed the motivation for the war was only over access to oil. Stopping briefly in front of the ROTC annex of Terrace Hall, protesters held a die-in, lying on the ground for two minutes to remember those who died in Iraq.
At the gazebo, people took turns with a bullhorn, preaching socialist revolution and speaking against the presence of military recruiters and ROTC programs at KSU.
“These people are salespeople desperate to make their quota,” said one member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee. “If there were ever a campus that should be military free, shouldn’t it be Kent State?”
Julio Pino, an associate professor of history at KSU, called for cheers because of Vietnam’s victory over the United States, which mark its 30th anniversary last week, saying it was a victory over American imperialism. He also read to the crowd a message from Iraqi insurgents, detailing their resistance.
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