It has been nearly five decades since four people were shot dead by Ohio National Guard members while protesting the Vietnam War on the Kent State University campus. The deaths on May 4, 1970 are the subject of a lawsuit filed 46 years later to the day, naming the Federal Bureau of Investigations and US Department of Justice as defendants.
Filed in federal court by attorney Michael Kuzma, the lawsuit comes after other efforts to uncover what the authorities knew about the killings at Kent State yielded little, reports Reuters. Much remains mysterious about the events of that day but there is one man in particular that Kuzma wants to know more about.
The Mystery Man
It is alleged by some that a man planted by the FBI shot into the air on the campus on the day of the famous protest, prompting the National Guard to respond violently. The events of Kent State marked a generation, as Kuzma's continued interest and recent lawsuit show, so he still wants to know if those shots were fired and whether the FBI deliberately triggered the violence.
This man suspected to have set up the scene at the university in 1970 is still alive, 67 years old, and has refused to comment. His name is Terry Norman, and he denied doing any shooting at the time but was reportedly an FBI informant and Kent State student.
Efforts to release FBI papers on Norman have been thwarted, and experts on the events at Kent State do not seem certain Norman is important. But they do believe it is worth finding out if the FBI knows more than it has revealed. The agency has said it will only relinquish its information if there is an overwhelming public interest, among other conditions.
A Red Herring?
Kuzma, the lawyer who filed the suit seeking information on Norman and Kent State, believes we do need to know more. But Howard Means, author of the recently released "67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence" is less certain.
He suspects Norman has served as a sort of distraction. Means likened the intrigue surrounding this man to the speculation about the JFK assassination in Dallas, Texas in 1963 -- another formative moment in American history -- saying, "Terry Norman is in a sense the second gunman on the grassy knoll ... He's been kind of a handy bogeyman or a red herring."