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ALLISON KRAUSE, 19, a quiet, almond-eyed beauty, was more of a listener than a talker; she never preached about her deeply held views. She opposed the war, and with her boy friend, Barry Levine, was among the spectators caught in the rifle fire. An honor student interested in the history of art, she believed in protest but not in violence. She had placed a flower in a Guardsman's rifle at Kent State and said softly: "Flowers are better than bullets." "Is dissent a crime?" asked Allison Krause's father. "Is this a reason for killing her? Have we come to such a state in this country that a young girl has to be shot because she disagrees deeply with the actions of her Government?"
Multiple investigations at federal and state levels are under way to determine why anyone was killed at Kent State. Far worse disorders have been controlled at other campuses without fatalities. Many of the students had obviously committed lawless acts during that long weekend. Apparently they thought that they could do so with impunity.
General Canterbury and his superior, Ohio Adjutant General Sylvester Del Corso, at first sought refuge in a flimsy excuse for uncontrolled gunfire. They said that their men had been fired upon by a sniper. By the end of the week, even Del Corso conceded that there was no evidence of any such attack.
A more plausible explanation was fear that bordered on panic. "Each man made the judgment on his own that his life was in danger," said Canterbury. "I felt that I could have been killed out there." A number of the men believed that the crowd was going to engulf them, perhaps take away their loaded weapons and turn the M1s on the troopers. Some had been hurt by thrown objectsbut none seriously enough to require hospitalization. Though the units had served in riot situations before, most of the lower-ranking enlisted men had no war experience. The Guardsmen at Kent had apparently not paid much attention to whatever training they had been given. "Some in my platoon," said one of the troopers, "have never handled a rifle and hardly know how to load it." Some of the younger men had enlisted in the Guard to avoid regular military service and the hazards of Viet Nam. Said the wife of one Guardsman: "My husband is no murderer. He was afraid. He was sure that they were going to be overrun by those kids. He was under ordersthat's why he did it. He said so."