The Outcasts Creative presents 13 Seconds in Kent State, an online drama series that is similar to a radio play, but with additional visual elements where the audience can see the actors performing. Leading up to the 51st Anniversary of the Kent State Shooting, this miniseries takes a closer look at how those involved were affected by the shootings on May 4th and by the conduct of the trial five years later – the students, the parents of the students killed, the survivors, and the lawyers and witnesses on both sides of the case. Two episodes are still available for live viewing on May 2 and 4, while the previous three are available on demand.
According to a spokesperson for the event, The Outcasts Creative decided to create this drama for the following reason:
“2020 saw a more divided America and the democratic rights of not just Americans, but of people the world over, were being eroded more than ever before. There was much talk among our Outcast members of the depressing nature of world events and how people appeared more divided and in conflict with one another, than any of us had known… The spine of [this] narrative, evolved from a feature film screenplay to more of a TV miniseries, is that of the Court Case, much of which would never have been heard in the public domain. Addressing the Kent State story is our way of giving voice to the continuing need to draw attention to assaults on democratic rights the world over.”
The background and synopsis of 13 Seconds in Kent State:
“On April 30th, 1970 President Richard Nixon gave a speech to announce the war in Vietnam would expand to attack bases in neighboring Cambodia. With anti-war sentiment already running high back home, this expansion of what many considered to be an unjust and illegal war led to a number of protests across the nation. Anti-war demonstrations took place at several universities. At three of them the National Guard were called out, ostensibly to protect property and assist in maintaining law and order. Governor Rhodes of Ohio went further, saying publicly that his men were not just there ‘To solve the problem, they were going to eradicate the symptom...’
On Monday May 4th students at Kent State University, angry that their campus had been invaded, called a noon rally to protest the military presence. Many of those present were not involved in the rally itself, but simply watched events unfolding while others were passing by on their way to their next lecture. What happened next would forever be enshrined as one of the most divisive flashpoints in American history and leave a dark stain on the nation’s democratic legacy. Sixty-seven bullets fired within only thirteen seconds would leave nine students injured, one of whom was paralyzed for life, and four others: Jeffery Miller, Sandra Scheuer, William Schroeder, and Allison Krause, dead. A country which stood as a beacon of democracy to the world had done the unthinkable, fired upon its own citizens, who were exercising their right to protest or were simply bystanders. The event marked a major turning point and was the beginning of the end of America’s involvement in the Vietnam war.
The events at Kent State have been much discussed over the years but the minutiae of what happened that day has rarely been examined in exhaustive detail. In 1975, one team of lawyers attempted to do exactly that. Led by trial lawyer Joseph Kelner from New York City, a legal team representing the students who were injured and the families of those who were slain, took the Ohio National Guard, Kent State University, and Governor James Rhodes to court for breach of civil rights. This trial has been no more than a footnote in most historical commentary but, in this production, it comes under detailed examination in a dramatic narrative for the first time… The trial itself in Cleveland was extraordinary as Kelner and his team fought for the truth of the events of that day to be heard in a court determined to hinder and block them at every turn. The trial brutally exposed divisions in American society at the time and judicial and political corruption.”