Facing a growing backlash from the Kent State May 4 community, Stephanie Smith, a 25-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, is stepping down as the chair of the Kent State 50th May 4 Commemoration Advisory Committee.
“Out of respect for the profound concerns held by some members of Kent State’s May 4 community about my former work in national security, I am stepping down as university chair of the 50th commemoration,” Smith wrote on her Facebook page. “I will continue to encourage my students to join me in active inquiry about how the events of May 4, 1970, are relevant today and especially to ponder the dangers of polarization and the power of reconciliation. Long live the spirit of Kent and Jackson State.”
Laurel Krause is the sister of Allison Krause, one of the four student protesters killed in the May 4, 1970 Kent State massacre. In 2010 Laurel Krause co-founded the Kent State Truth Tribunal, seeking accountability and reconciliation at Kent State.
She helped organize a public campaign over the last week to get Kent State President Beverly Warren to reverse her decision to appoint Smith.
“This is a people’s victory for all fighting for peace and justice in America,” Krause said.
“We see Ms. Smith’s appointment and career background as a travesty and an insult to all those that seek peace and social justice.”
Smith’s Kent State faculty page shares that she “co-founded the Department’s Counter Terrorism Communications Center to strengthen and integrate all United States Government counter-terrorism messaging,” pictures Smith in her CIA photo and highlights her abilities in public relations.
“Will Ms. Smith be tasked with Kent State re-messaging and hiding Kent State Truth?” the letter to Warren asked. “Appointing Ms. Smith obstructs the participation of Kent State massacre survivors, disrespects the original Kent State protesters’ stand for peace and, 49 years later, what loved ones died for and the wounds all Kent State survivors carry.”