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Alan Canfora, Survivor Of Kent State Shooting, Dies At 71

Alan Canfora protesting the Vietnam War on the Kent State campus in May 1970.
Alan Canfora
Alan Canfora protesting the Vietnam War on the Kent State campus in May 1970.

Alan Canfora, who protested the Vietnam War during demonstrations on the Kent State University campus in May 1970, and was shot in the wrist when National Guardsmen opened fired on students, has died. He was 71.

Canfora's sister, Roseann "Chic" Canfora, posted news of his passing on her Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, calling it "a devastating loss to our family, friends and the Kent State/May 4 community." She indicated his death was not related to COVID-19.

The Canforas have been active in remembrances of the May 4 shooting that claimed the lives of four students and left Alan and eight others wounded.

The biography on his website describes the inspiration Alan took from members of Students for a Democratic Society at Kent State, whose anti-war rebellion he joined.

"Alan Canfora was a prime mover among the hundreds of anti-war Kent State students who spontaneously revolted on May 1 and May 2 in downtown Kent and on the KSU campus until 1,200 Ohio National Guardsmen occupied the Kent State campus and downtown Kent," the biography reads. "On May 4, Canfora was again a leading protester and confronted armed national guardsmen while waving a black flag of protest — a symbol of his anger and despair after his friend’s death in Vietnam. He was shot by a bullet through his wrist during 13 seconds of mayhem."

Commenters expressed shock and grief at the news of Canfora's passing. "A powerful voice of May 4 now will echo on forever," one noted. Another May 4 survivor, Dean Kahler, wrote, "This saddens my heart." Kahler was one of the most severely wounded on that day, suffering a gunshot to the spine and becoming paralyzed from the waist down.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the May 4 shooting, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person events including a speech by activist and actress Jane Fonda. Events were conducted virtually instead.

Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010. A graduate of Hudson High School, he received his Bachelor's from Kent State University. While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.
A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.