Snipers on the roof. New OSU president turned campus into military zone during protests. (2024)

Keith Kilty was a professor of social work at Ohio State University for 29 years before retiring.

Dear President Carter,

I am compelled to write to you after the utterly unjustifiable actions taken by you on the night of April 25 on the grounds around the Ohio Union.

The massive overreaction by police was outrageous, despicable and autocratic on your part.

Now I understand better why you were hired as the president for this institution. As a former military officer, you have a solid grasp on how to turn a university into a military zone.

You appear to have no understanding whatsoever of academic freedom and free inquiry.

If I am mistaken in this assessment, then you clearly have no commitment to either. That is nothing new when it comes to past presidents of this institution and may also have played a major role both in your hiring and in what transpired yesterday.

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William Oakley Thompson was president in 1931 when a professor of sociology had his tenure broken and was fired after speaking at a rally for Mahatma Gandhi in India.

Howard Bevis was president in 1953 when a professor of physics had his tenure broken and was fired for using his constitutional rights to invoke the first and fifth amendments during his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

That led to Ohio State University being placed on the censured administration list of the American Association of University Professors for some three decades.

Novice G. Fawcett was president in 1968 when a professor of history was fired for burning his draft card. That is the infamous company you have joined by your actions on April 25, 2024.

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Did you not take an oath as a commissioned officer to support and defend the Constitution of the United States? Have you read the Constitution?

Do you not know what is in the first amendment – the right to free assembly and the right to speak freely? Then why did your goon squad inform students and faculty on the morning of April 25 that they could not be on the oval or to speak there?

That is public land.

OSU is a public university, where we all have the right to assemble and to speak.How dare you violate the very Constitution that you took an oath to support and defend?

Snipers on the roof. New OSU president turned campus into military zone during protests. (1)

Later that day, your goons restricted access to the Ohio Union.

No reason was given to me as to why I could not exit through a particular door on the west side of the Union that I had freely walked through on many occasions. That was at about 5 pm.

While hundreds of people gathered around the union and on the grounds on the other side of College Road., increasing numbers of police and police vehicles moved to surround the crowd.

Snipers could be seen on the roof of the Ohio Union.

These are clearly autocratic actions meant to intimidate and harass.

The goons carrying out your orders continued to grow through the late afternoon and evening, along with heavier equipment and armor.

We were told we could not use megaphones to be heard.

During my 29 years as a professor at OSU, I helped to organize many rallies and demonstrations, where we used sound systems so that we could be heard, and those were at all times of the day.Yet now, under your leadership, we are to be silenced and denied our right to speak?

Have you completely forgotten the oath that you took?

How truly disgraceful is your behavior.

You have dishonored the uniform that you wore, the same one that my father wore during his days in the U.S. Navy when he fought against fascism during World War Two.

I am truly grateful that he is no longer with us and could not witness your despicable and dishonorable behavior.

On April 22, you stated: “I remain steadfastly committed to maintaining an environment where all members of our community feel welcome while continuing to uphold the First Amendment and the laws of our state and nation.”

You went on to say: “When protected speech becomes incitement or threats of violence, Ohio State has and will always move quickly to enforce the law and university policy. I will not compromise on this.”

But apparently you do NOT mean what you say. You only intend to protect the rights of some, especially Jewish students facing antisemitic language and threats. That is critical, but what about Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students? Are they also not human and deserving of protection?

Or are they just animals or worse?

I saw with my own eyes a group of individuals carrying the Israeli flag and with clothing displaying the Star of David trying to harass and to intimidate individuals gathered yesterday to support Palestinian rights.

Snipers on the roof. New OSU president turned campus into military zone during protests. (2)

Fortunately, the organizers had made it clear to demonstrators that they should not engage with counter-demonstrators, to ignore threats or efforts at intimidation. What I DID NOT SEE was any of your overwhelming police presence intervene and move those counter-demonstrators away.

Was their goal to encourage these agitators, hoping to provoke a violent situation where your goons could attack the demonstrators who were simply advocating for the rights and lives of Palestinians?

You say that you intend to protect all members of the OSU community, but your actions say otherwise.

If you have any moral integrity, you should resign immediately as the President of Ohio State University.

Regretfully yours,

Keith Kilty was a professor of social work at Ohio State University for 29 years before retiring. He focused on social welfare policy and research on poverty and inequality, especially impacts on people of color and women.

Snipers on the roof. New OSU president turned campus into military zone during protests. (2024)
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