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Four Still Dead in Ohio

Man lying on the ground dead a woman screaming over his body, others looking on

Back when “tin soldiers and Nixon” were “cutting us down” in 1970, a group of Ohio State University students and campus activists started an underground newspaper in Columbus. Driven mostly by the murder of four students at Kent State – Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, Sandy Scheuer and Bill Schroeder – shot during a demonstration that was opposing President Nixon’s illegal attack on Cambodia and the Vietnam War, the Columbus Free Press was born.

Not surprisingly, the Free Press was the first western newspaper to expose Cambodia’s killing fields thanks to international law professor John Quigley’s reporting from Southeast Asia. In the first issue of the Free Press, the October 11, 1970 issue, a Free Press opinion attacked a special grand jury’s decision not to indict Ohio National Guardsmen for the Kent State killings.

The Free Press wrote at the time: “The jury conveniently disregarded the FBI report which stated that the guardsmen were not ‘surrounded,’ that they had tear gas, contrary to claims of guardsmen following the shooting.” The Free Press went on to point out the obvious facts: “…a film of the shootings shown on a northern Ohio TV station on the night of May 4th the slope, then turning, kneeling, firing a volley, and rising to fire a few more scattered shots before regrouping and going over the hill. Panic may have aided in the shootings, but it was not the cause.

THE GUARDSMEN FIRED ON ORDER, and the men who gave the order and the others who carried it out are free.” Of course, the same could be said of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who waged an illegal war against the people of Iraq and murdered over a million civilians, yet still walk free. And the war endured under President Obama. The Kent State precedent of letting known murderers move among us set the stage for the smiley-face pro-torture policies of the Bush years.

Former Free Press Editor Steve Conliff did his best to bring Governor James Rhodes to justice for inciting the National Guard to violence against peace demonstrators. At the 1977 Ohio State Fair, Conliff pied Big Jim, exemplifying the underground press motto – If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own. Hardly the people’s tribunal longed for by the Free Press staff, but nevertheless, great political theater. Local Free Clinic physician Pete Howison performed an experiment at Conliff’s trial, proving that pie-ing did not constitute a violent assault. Conliff was found not guilty.

Rhodes was pied by proxy again in 1990 on the 20th when his statute, then on the Ohio Statehouse grounds, took a direct hit to the face by a strawberry cream pie, thrown by Howison. A photo of the red goop symbolically dripping down Rhodes’ face appeared in the next Free Press issue. In 1992, the Free Press moved into an East Broad Street office that had an unusual wall in the back erected only three-quarters of the way up to the ceiling. When the office started leaking after a rainstorm, I climbed over the wall to determine the damage. Ironically, I found the original ACLU legal files containing documents from their lawsuit against the National Guardsmen at Kent State. The morgue photos of the dead students are seared into my brain.

When Jim Rhodes died, the Free Press made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from his FBI file. Here we learned the dirty truth of Rhodes’ ties to the mob and the FBI’s use of that information, some would call it blackmail, to win concessions from the governor. As the Free Press wrote in 2003, a January 14, 1963 memo noted that: “He [Rhodes] is completely controlled by an SAC [Special Agent in Charge] contact, and we have full assurances that everything we need will be made available promptly. Our experience proves this assertion.”

The FOIA file revealed that the SAC contact was none other than Robert H. Wolfe, publisher of the Columbus Dispatch. Dispatch reporter Bob Ruth had earlier disclosed to the Free Press that Rhodes had run a gambling operation in the OSU campus area. His headquarters during the 1930s was allegedly Gussie’s State Tavern, across the street from the law school. Serendipitously, the building would later house the shop Tradewinds, one of the early headquarters of the Free Press.

The FBI would cut the corrupt numbers man Rhodes all the slack he needed because: “He is a friend of law enforcement and believes in honest, hard-hitting law enforcement. He respects and admires [the] FBI.” In 2007, the Free Press decried “The lethal media silence on Kent State’s smoking guns” in an article I co-wrote with Harvey Wasserman. When tape-recorded evidence surfaced 37 years after the fact proving the original Free Press editorial to be correct, the mainstream for-profit corporate media, including the Dispatch, ignored it.

Rhodes’ good friends in the FBI had in their possession a tape that documented that the guardsmen were ordered to fire. Prior to the shootings, Terry Strubbe, a Kent State student had hung a microphone out of his dorm window and captured 20 seconds of sound, including the gunfire. In an amplified version of the tape, a Guard officer is heard shouting: “Right here! Get set! Point! Fire!” Those, like the Free Press, who argued that there was an order to shoot the students were dismissed per standard mainstream media protocol as “conspiracy theorists.” It’s never too late to embrace the truth.

Rhodes was a mobster being blackmailed by the FBI who agitated his guardsmen against the students and was in the middle of a heated primary campaign for U.S. Senate. The day before the shootings, Rhodes is on record stating that student peace demonstrators were the “strongest, well-trained militant revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America. They’re worse than the brown shirts and the Communists and the night riders and the vigilantes. They are the worst type of people that we harbor in America.”

The Free Press demands a Truth Commission on the Kent State shootings. Let all sides present their evidence, even the well-trained propagandists and coincidence theorists who specialize in blaming the victims, usually for political or monetary gain. Four remain dead in Ohio and justice remains unserved.

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From the Kent State killings to Occupy Cleveland, this is the face of the new COINTELPROCoint

Bob Fitrakis
May 5, 2012

Recent events in northern Ohio underscore the new COINTELPRO assault on activism. On Tuesday, May 1, federal authorities arrested five “anarchists” charging them with conspiracy in trying to bomb property used in interstate commerce, according to the Associated Press (AP). The target of this alleged plot was a bridge running through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, 15 miles south of downtown Cleveland.

Media immediately identified the men as linked to the nonviolent anti-corporate Occupy Cleveland movement. The next day, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson refused to renew the permits for Occupy Cleveland’s downtown encampment site. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio questioned why the Mayor would revoke the permit the day after the arrests. “Individuals are responsible for their own actions, not the groups they affiliate with,” said James Hardiman, ACLU’s Ohio Legal Director.

An undercover employee of the FBI later identified as an ex-convict sold the Cleveland “anarchists” fake explosives to blow up the bridge, according to the AP. As an axiom in activist politics, if anyone approaches a demonstrator and suggests violent activities and offers to procure guns or bombs – they are in all probability a cop or working for law enforcement.

Friday, May 4 was the 42nd anniversary of the Kent State shootings. Recall that the shootings only occurred after the mysterious burning down of the Kent State ROTC building on May 2, 1970. Numerous accounts of the event indicate that the Kent State police never attempted to stop the arsonist and the University’s own investigative study reported: “The persons involved in the actual incendiarism were few, were separated from the main crowd, and could easily have been apprehended by the police.”

The Ohio National Guard would have never been called to the Kent State campus without the ROTC arson.

William A. Gordon’s book “Four Dead in Ohio” noted that the Kent State University police made no attempt to prevent the ROTC fire despite the fact that their own intelligence warnings alerted them to the impending arson. One detective even admitted telling a TV camera crew, “Don’t pack your cameras. We’re going to have a fire tonight.”

The special grand jury report done under the auspices of Portage County Common Pleas Judge Edwin W. Jones concluded that, “It is obvious that the burning of the ROTC building could have been prevented with the manpower then available.”

In 1976, Senator Frank Church and his Senate investigation committee exposed the government’s Counter Intelligence Program (CONINTELPRO). The FBI admitted to the Church Committee that on May 7, 1970 they deliberately set fire to an ROTC building in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Six pages concerning ROTC fires were redacted in the Church Committee report.

As Alan Canfora, one of the students shot on May 4, said “some of the students there did try to light the building on fire. It was like the Three Stooges trying to burn the ROTC building. When we left, that fire was completely out.”

In his book, Gordon noted that a biker showed up with a can of gasoline and gave it to a high school student, George Walter Harrington, who then burnt the building. Gordon and others have speculated as to whether the biker worked for the FBI or federal authorities. Despite the presence of fire and police officials, neither the biker nor Harrington were every prosecuted.

The original COINTELPRO ran between 1956 and 1971. Its purpose was to discredit any peace and social justice movements. The tactics they used were those of psychological warfare. Tactics included smearing the reputations of individual activists and organizations through planting false stories in the media; forging documents; planting evidence leading to wrongful imprisonments, sending in undercover agents and snitches to promote illegal activities and violence; and even assassination.

The initial evidence in Cleveland, as in Kent State 42 years earlier, points to a rejuvenated COINTELPRO movement designed to destroy the reputation of the highly successful Occupy Wall Street movement.

David K. Shipler, the author of “Rights and Risks: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America,” pointed out in an April 29, 2012 New York Times op-ed that most recent terrorist plots in the United States have been hatched by the FBI. Shipler wrote “But dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naively play their parts until they are arrested.”

Two days after Shipler’s words, the five anarchists are arrested with fake C-4 in Cleveland. As Shipler points out, “Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, its not easy to tell the difference.”

Shipler should have added, some terrorist threats are manufactured by the government to destroy social justice movements.

It has already been widely reported that Homeland Security was involved in harassing the Occupy movement. (See The new CHAOS, COINTELPRO and the Occupy movement, Free Press, January 5, 2012)

A little known but highly influential private organization, The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, emerged last November as coordinating the crackdown on the Occupy movement. They were coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs.

It should come as no surprise that five so-called anarchists, with no capacity to blow up a bridge on their own, were sold or given fake C-4 from an ex-convict working with federal law enforcement. And then, a big city mayor uses it to attack the Occupy movement. From the Kent State killings to Occupy Cleveland, this is the face of the new COINTELPRO, same as the old COINTELPRO. The 1% are still protected by the illegal activities of the security industrial complex that routinely violate the civil liberties of U.S. citizens seeking nonviolent change.


Originally published by The Free Press, https://freepress.org

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Forty Years Later, Four Still Dead In Ohio

Bob Fitrakis

May 3, 2010

Back when “tin soldiers and Nixon” were “cutting us down” in 1970, a group of Ohio State University students and campus activists started an underground newspaper in Columbus. Driven mostly by the murder of four students at Kent State – Allison Krause, Jeff Miller, Sandy Scheuer, and Bill Schroeder – shot during a demonstration that was opposing President Nixon’s illegal attack on Cambodia and the Vietnam War, the Columbus Free Press was born.

Not surprisingly, the Free Press was the first western newspaper to expose Cambodia’s killing fields thanks to international law professor John Quigley’s reporting from Southeast Asia.

In the first issue of the Free Press, the October 11, 1970 issue, a Free Press opinion attacked a special grand jury’s decision not to indict Ohio National Guardsmen for the Kent State killings. The Free Press wrote at the time: “The jury conveniently disregarded the FBI report which stated that the guardsmen were not ’surrounded,’ that they had tear gas, contrary to claims of guardsmen following the shooting.”

The Free Press went on to point out the obvious facts: “…a film of the shootings shown on a northern Ohio TV station on the night of May 4th shows the guardsmen retreating up the slope, then turning, kneeling, firing a volley, and rising to fire a few more scattered shots before regrouping and going over the hill. Panic may have aided in the shootings, but it was not the cause. THE GUARDSMEN FIRED ON ORDER, and the men who gave the order and the others who carried it out are free.”

Of course, the same could be said of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who waged an illegal war against the people of Iraq and murdered over a million civilians, yet still walk free. And the war endures under President Obama. The Kent State precedent of letting known murderers move among us set the stage for the smiley-face pro-torture policies of the Bush years.

Former Free Press Editor Steve Conliff did his best to bring Governor Jim Rhodes to justice for inciting the National Guard to violence against peace demonstrators. At the 1977 Ohio State Fair, Conliff pied Big Jim, exemplifying the underground press motto – If you don’t like the news, go out and make some of your own. Hardly the people’s tribunal longed for by the Free Press staff, but nevertheless, great political theater.

Local Free Clinic physician Pete Howison performed an experiment at Conliff’s trial, proving that pie-ing did not constitute a violent assault. Conliff was found not guilty.

Rhodes was pied by proxy again in 1990 on the 20th anniversary of the shootings, when his statute, then on the Ohio Statehouse grounds, took a direct hit to the face by a strawberry cream pie, thrown by Dr. Pete Howison. A photo of the red goop symbolically dripping down Rhodes’ face appeared in the next Free Press issue.

In 1992, the Free Press moved into an East Broad Street office that had an unusual wall in the back erected only three-quarters of the way up to the ceiling. When the office started leaking after a rainstorm, I climbed over the wall to determine the damage. Ironically, I found the original ACLU legal files containing documents from their lawsuit against the National Guardsmen at Kent State. The morgue photos of the dead students are seared into my brain.

When Jim Rhodes died, the Free Press made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from his FBI file. Here we learned the dirty truth of Rhodes’ ties to the mob and the FBI’s use of that information, some would call it blackmail, to win concessions from the governor. As the Free Press wrote in 2003, a January 14, 1963 memo noted that: “He [Rhodes] is completely controlled by an SAC [Special Agent in Charge] contact, and we have full assurances that everything we need will be made available promptly. Our experience proves this assertion.”

The FOIA file revealed that the SAC contact was none other than Robert H. Wolfe, publisher of the Columbus Dispatch.

Dispatch reporter Bob Ruth had earlier disclosed to the Free Press that Rhodes had run a gambling operation in the OSU campus area. His headquarters during the 1930s was allegedly Gussie’s State Tavern, across the street from the law school. Serendipitously, the building would later house the shop Tradewinds, one of the early headquarters of the Free Press.

The FBI would cut the corrupt numbers man Rhodes all the slack he needed because: “He is a friend of law enforcement and believes in honest, hard-hitting law enforcement. He respects and admires [the] FBI.”

In 2007, the Free Press decried “The lethal media silence on Kent State’s smoking guns” in an article I co-wrote with Harvey Wasserman. When tape-recorded evidence surfaced 37 years after the fact proving the original Free Press editorial to be correct, the mainstream for-profit corporate media, including the Dispatch, ignored it.

Rhodes’ good friends in the FBI had in their possession a tape that documented that the guardsmen were ordered to fire. Prior to the shootings, Terry Strubbe, a Kent State student had hung a microphone out of his dorm window and captured 20 seconds of sound, including the gunfire. In an amplified version of the tape, a Guard officer is heard shouting: “Right here! Get set! Point! Fire!”

Those, like the Free Press, who argued that there was an order to shoot the students were dismissed per standard mainstream media protocol as “conspiracy theorists.”

It’s never too late to embrace the truth. Rhodes was a mobster being blackmailed by the FBI who agitated his guardsmen against the students and was in the middle of a heated primary campaign for U.S. Senate. The day before the shootings, Rhodes is on record stating that student peace demonstrators were the “strongest, well-trained militant revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America. They’re worse than the brown shirts and the Communists and the night riders and the vigilantes. They are the worst type of people that we harbor in America.”

The Free Press demands a Truth Commission on the Kent State shootings. Let all sides present their evidence, even the well-trained propagandists and coincidence theorists who specialize in blaming the victims, usually for political or monetary gain. Four remain dead in Ohio and justice remains unserved.


Bob Fitrakis has been of the Free Press since 1992.

Original article published at:
https://freepress.org/columns/display/3/2010/1828