We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
As reported last week in the New York Times and the Akron Beacon Journal, Alan Canfora—-who was shot in the wrist during the Kent State shootings in 1970—-recently released a recording of the incident in which, he claims, the listener can hear members of the Ohio National Guard being ordered to fire upon students. The digitally-enhanced 20-second clip comes from a 30-minute-long recording of the shootings originally made by former Kent State student Terry Strubbe, who recorded the incident on a reel-to-reel machine from his dorm room.
The article goes on to detail where and how Canfora obtained a copy of the original recording, and how he hopes the clip will convince the government to re-open the case. An interesting side note to the story, however, is who Canfora turned to for help with the recording: Dischord Records co-owner and Evens guitarist Ian MacKaye. It’s a revelation that has many people, including those at Idolator.com, scratching their heads:
There’s no explanation of how MacKaye got involved with all of this; perhaps Canfora thought he’d found a political ally in the Minor Threat mastermind, or perhaps he was just really impressed with the remastering job on In On The Kill Taker.
According to MacKaye, he and Canfora met years ago, when Fugazi performed at a benefit show for Canfora’s Kent May 4 Center in the mid-’90s. “He called me asking for advice, and I offered to take the tape to Inner Ear Studios and give him some thoughts on it,” MacKaye says.
“I remember Kent State, when I was eight years old, and it affected me profoundly. It was one of the first times I realized that the government was capable of killing its own people,” MacKaye says. “I studied Kent State in the ’80s. I was fascinated by it. But I’m not as well-acquainted with the case. I wasn’t there. He got shot…He can picture shit that I can’t.”
Though Canfora’s recording is bound to ignite some controversy, MacKaye is quick to downplay his own involvement in the events leading up to its release. “I’m just helping out a friend,” he says. MacKaye says he took the recording to the studio and simply adjusted a few EQ levels and attempted to filter out some of the excess noise.
According to several news sources, Canfora is reported as saying he could hear the words “Right here. Get set. Point. Fire,” yelled out in the enhanced clip. For his part, MacKaye isn’t as adamant as Canfora regarding the contents of the recording. “You can hear someone say, ‘Right here.’…You clearly hear a cadence,” he says. “The problem with the ‘Fire’ is that there’s a woman yelling. When I sent it back, I said, ‘Hey, I don’t think it’s totally evident that you hear a ‘Fire,’ but what you do hear certainly merits a review.'”