THE KENT STATE COVERUP by Joseph & James Munves Kelner


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The 1975 trial of National Guardsmen, university officials, and Ohio Governor Rhodes for violating the students' civil rights emerges as a classic travesty of justice, compounding the already tragic Kent State story. Writing in the first person, plaintiffs' chief counsel Joseph Kelner movingly describes the courtroom events, where the judge addresses Rhodes as ""Your Excellency,"" refuses to allow photos and documents to be shown jurors during testimony, allows defense attorneys to ask student witnesses their political beliefs, and terrifies the jury explaining why he must sequester them following a threat. Dramatic portions of testimony are reprinted: one guardsman claiming to have shot an onrushing student (pictured in a photo standing still) and later changing his story; another admitting having lied about students with weapons; a third describing Rhodes' ""off-the-record"" instructions to ""use any force necessary"" to dispel crowds. And these are interspersed with portraits of dead and injured students. But despite the plaintiffs' seemingly strong case, buttressed by expert witnesses condemning the Guard's having opened fire, the Cleveland atmosphere is strongly anti-student (one plaintiff notes that even his two aunts are convinced he must have deserved to be shot), and the not surprising verdict is 9-3 for the defendants. An appeal was aborted by an out-of-court monetary settlement one year ago; the net result--since the state of Ohio prosecuted nobody and eight federal indictments were dismissed--is that no one has been prosecuted for the Kent State killings. A shocking and sobering story.

Pub Date: May 4th, 1980
ISBN: 0595174922
Publisher: Harper & Row