A strong, spirited and resilient assemblage of anti-war protesters gathered at Kent State University on the anniversary of the students killed and wounded 32 years ago on May 4th. A crowd estimated just under 1000 people combined efforts to commemorate those lost in similar anti-war efforts over three decades ago with a crystal clear statement against the Bush Administration’s self-declared “war on terrorism.” The rally and protest march resoundingly rejected the war in Afghanistan and any expansion of war with resounding chants of “NO MORE WAR IN OUR NAME…LET THEM NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN.” Over and over the chant repeated, just to the side of the site where Ohio National Guardsmen shot K.S.U. student protester Allison Krause dead in 1970. Respects were paid to all involved on that horrible day in history. Most of us there made another pledge on this day in history (in part)….

“We believe that as people living in the United States it is our responsibility to resist the injustices done by our government, in our names. Not in our name will you wage endless war there will be no more deaths no more transfusions of blood for oil We pledge resistance We pledge alliance with those who have come under attack for voicing opposition to the war or for their religion or ethnicity. We pledge to make common cause with the people of the world to bring about justice, freedom and peace another world is possible and we pledge to make it real.”

Following a spirited rally with numerous speakers including a strong statement in solidarity from MOVE political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, hundreds marched to a beat of drums and chants as we moved through the Kent State campus to illuminate the message to others. I could feel the spirits and strong presence of Leonard Peltier, the MOVE 9 and all political prisoners down where we were and up where the shooting took place. They can and do speak with such clear authority about repression and oppression.

The “official” march ended on the front campus beside route 59. It was then that a KSAWC member said, “…do as your conscience dictates.” We did. Passing through the smoke-like mist of a smoldering three-color flag, a group of hundreds staked a claim to the westbound lanes of route 59 and began a path toward the center of Kent. “Whose Road?” was the question, ”Our Road!” was the answer. The Kent police were quickly assembled and attempted to move us to the sidewalk with siren blasts from their vehicles within inches of some. We would not be moved and continued onward. It was in the center of town while occupying the intersection of Water and Main streets that the Kent police sealed off traffic in all four directions. With drumming and chanting from the center of the intersection, the Kent Police radioed for additional forces. Neighboring law enforcement units quickly arrived and suited up with riot gear including (gas masks on, and shields down) in the presence of the protesters. The State Highway Patrol established an additional perimeter outside the existing one. The (now geared up) force took a formal and imposing position on the south side of the intersection on Water Street. Most everyone felt the implied and growing threat and realized we were pretty much hemmed in. The resolve and the focus only intensified with time. We began to chant (while pointing out) the wall of law enforcement officers “THAT’S WHAT A POLICE STATE LOOKS LIKE….and then (looking to each other).…THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE.” The organizers pondered what course of action to pursue. After nearly an hour standoff, the protesters simply moved out toward the eastern perimeter at a walking pace with drums drumming. We moved right on through the established perimeter, maintained our position on route 59 and passed right through and past the State Highway’s eastern position as we marched back to the front campus.

The late day/early evening sun streamed through the trees forming long shadows on a now quite campus. The sun would indeed set peacefully on this May 4th on Kent State University. And as the day ended, many more are now aware of the unrest that grows. Young activists have had a chance to grow some themselves and to continue the serious work of liberation. They were able to observe how a disciplined group of dedicated people can begin to make a difference. Yes, we were cloaked by the political cover of a terrible day galvanized in this country’s history, but when the day ended, I believe we honored those who were gunned down; killed and wounded here. There will most likely be harder days on harder streets to come. The honor rendered this May 4th, will not be sustained unless we unceasingly continue to educate others, while compelling them to join our voice to pressure the United States government to end this war without end. It must end any brand of imperialist warfare. It must end all forms of racism and classist repression and oppression. On this day, a breath was given. We must inhale that breath and continue to breathe new life into a growing Movement. With principled objectives and strategic alliances coupled with sharply disciplined resolve, another world is indeed possible.