The Shootings at Kent State Remembered

Thursday, May 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

KENT, Ohio (AP) — Students wounded 30 years ago during a Vietnam War protest at Kent State University gathered today for solemn remembrance and said they are still searching for the reason the Ohio National Guard opened fire.

``We don't know why this happened to us. We don't know who said 'Shoot.' We don't know when they said it or why,'' said Joseph Lewis, 48.

Four students were killed and nine wounded in the May 4, 1970, shootings that stunned the nation and galvanized the anti-war movement.

Seven of the nine wounded appeared at a news conference today that was part of ceremonies marking the 30th anniversary of the shootings. The two other survivors also were on campus for the anniversary, marking the first time all nine were reunited.

The remembrance also included the tolling of a bell at the exact minute the shots rang out: 12:24 p.m. Thousands of people gathered on the grassy hill overlooking the Victory Bell as it rang out 15 times, for each of the 13 students killed or wounded at Kent State and for the two students killed at Jackson State University in Mississippi 10 days later.

The shootings occurred following days of student protests and the burning of the campus Army ROTC building. The National Guard was sent in to quell the protest.

``They're my blood brothers,'' Alan Canfora, another of the students, said earlier. ``We all shed the blood here and lived to tell the story.''

The former students also planned to meet with the mothers of three of the four students who were killed that day.

``It'll be very emotional this year, particularly around the mothers,'' said Kent State sociology professor Jerry M. Lewis, who was 20 yards from one of the students killed by gunfire.

Wednesday night, hundreds of students marched around the campus before gathering at a parking lot for the start of an annual overnight candlelight vigil.

Senior Mary Sima said the vigil was ``a chance to look inside myself and think about peace for everybody.''

At least one shooting survivor, Robby Stamps, said he was unhappy about plans to play a taped speech by Mumia Abu-Jamal during this afternoon's commemoration.

Abu-Jamal is on death row in Pennsylvania for killing a police officer in 1981 but maintains his innocence. Stamps, who was shot in the lower back, said he is afraid that the 3 1/2 -minute speech will shift the focus of the commemoration away from events at Kent State.