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Anniversary of the Kent State Shootings on May 4, 1970

By Colin Kaufman and Dov Treiman

“When the Kent State shootings occurred, I was in combat in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division, 4th Military Police Company.  We (MP’s) were horrified at what had happened – not merely the inexcusable shooting of civilians exercising their right to protest, but the lack of fire discipline of the National Guard troops.  It has taken many intervening years for me to understand that the shooters were not wanton or bloodthirsty, but scared.  

People who are scared do irrational things.  I believe the reason they were scared was because of insufficient training.  Military Police troops are (or at least were at the time) extensively trained in dealing with riot situations.  National Guardsmen are/were not.

The Kent State shootings produced, as Dov wrote, martyrs to a cause.  Many people believe, and I am among them, that the shootings were a substantial factor in ending the Vietnam War.

Application to litigators: I don’t want to trivialize the tragedy of Kent State, but I analogize the fear of the National Guardsmen with the fear many lawyers feel when a judge says that it is time to pick a jury.  Training and experience allow experienced and trained litigators to welcome, rather than fear trial. Training and experience allow the experienced litigator to turn down the offer that does not serve his/her client well, but permits the avoidance of trial.

Please see the “official” Kent State University  recounting of the tragedy”

– Colin E. Kaufman 

“On May 4, 1970, there was a protest at Kent State University against the Vietnam War.

Later investigations proved that the protesters were completely unarmed.

The Ohio National Guard was called out to put down the protest.

They shot into the protesters.

The students killed at the protest were Allison Krause, Sandra Lee Sheuer, William Knox Schroeder, and Jeffrey Glenn Miller.

Jeffrey Glenn Miller was a graduate of Plainview-Old Bethpage High School.

The day he was killed, I was a Freshman of Plainview-Old Bethpage.

There was an emergency public meeting of the School Board called in response to Jeff’s death.

At that meeting, a riot broke out.

In that riot, Irving Woliver was beaten up for expressing his opposition to the war.

Irving had at that time been a dear friend of my family and I was seated about fifteen feet away from Irving when he was beaten up and bloodied.

I saw it all.

To this day, I remain friends with Irving’s son and daughter.

His daughter, fought off her father’s attackers with her purse.

She, like me, was a teenager at the time.

Many are the wounds of the Vietnam War that refuse to completely heal.”

– Dov Treiman

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