We’ll Never Forget the Kent State Massacre on May 4th – 47 Years Ago

by on May 4, 2017 · 7 comments

in Civil Rights

Kent State, Ohio, May 4, 1970In Response to Nixon’s Invasion of Cambodia, American Campuses Exploded in Protest in May 1970

Today, May 4th, 2017, is the 47th anniversary of the infamous Kent State Massacre – where 4 students were shot to death and 9 wounded by National Guardsmen during anti-Vietnam war protests on the Ohio campus.

Protests at Kent State were part of a wave of demonstrations that swept the country right after President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. Ten days later, 2 Black students were shot to death by police during an anti-war protest at Jackson State.

Students formed a National Student Strike and organized a campaign to bring a halt to the war. Eventually over 400 college and university campuses participated, and 4 million students took part as well as did a million faculty. It was one of the most catastrophic events in American history since the Civil War. It was a General Strike by students.

Howard Zinn said:

The spring of 1970 saw the first general student strike in the history of the United States, students from over four hundred colleges and universities calling off classes to protest the invasion of the Cambodia, the Kent State affair, the killing of two black students at Jackson State College in Mississippi, and the continuation of the war.”

(For the May 1970 Project – go here.)

Kent State, Ohio, May 4, 1970. This is John Filo’s famed picture of Mary Vecchio over Jeff Miller’s dead body.

Originally posted on May 3, 2009

May 4, 1970: Four students murdered, nine wounded by National Guardsmen, on the campus of Kent State in Kent, Ohio.

Allison Krause, William Schroeder, Jefferey Miller and Sandra Scheuer were killed in the 13 second fusillade of 67 shots fired by the Guardsmen, after an order to fire was given.

No one has ever been held accountable for this massacre. And no one will ever be. But we won’t forget.

For YouTube videos of the massacre, go here.

Four dead in Ohio,” sang Crosby Stills Nash and Young.

It was an event and song that described a generation. It became an anthem to many, as a remembrance to a horrible, murderous day – a day when the Vietnam War came home.

“The chickens have come home to roost,” the saying goes.

Another saying that anti-war protesters had chanted back then was: “Bring the war home!”

The National Guardsmen beat us to it.

How the Hell Did Things Get So Bad ….

You have to go back to the historical context to really understand how things got so bad that National Guardsmen opened up with live bullets on defenseless demonstrators on a college campus in middle America. (Here’s one account.)

In 1968 Richard Nixon was elected with his promise to end the Vietnam War, a war that President Johnson had beefed up substantially after taking over when JFK was assassinated. Significant anti-war protests had been occurring and increasing in intensity since 1965. They grew so intense that they forced Johnson to bow out of the ’68 presidential contest. With the Democrats themselves split over the very issue of the War – a split bloodily manifested in the streets of Chicago during Mayor Daley’s romp against demonstrators – Nixon was able to nudge past Hubert Humphrey and enter the White House as the “peace candidate”.

But when Nixon actually expanded the war in Southeast Asia by invading Cambodia / Kampucha in the early Spring of 1970 – the kids – the college kids who were the foot soldiers of the anti-war movement – went ballistic.

College and high school campuses across the nation exploded in protests. Sit-ins, take-overs of campus buildings and ROTC facilities were commonplace.

Even in San Diego

It was true, that even in San Diego, colleges campuses were on fire -so to speak. Here’s how we described it in our earlier histories:

San Diego Campuses Explode

San Diego university and college campuses were no exception to the explosive nature of protest at this point. San Diego State was shut down. At UCSD, a widely-supported student strike had rendered the La Jolla campus quiet except for the hub-bub of strike activities, leafleting, teach-ins, rallies, bonfires at night…

In early May striking students from college campuses all around San Diego county wanted to show their unity in opposing the war; the idea was to stage one joint action to protest the widening US involvement by targeting one prime military facility. At the planning meeting attended by hundreds of students from SDSU, UCSD, Cal-Western, City College, the community colleges, a few high schools, various ideas were thrown about, until almost by universal acclamation, the target was decided: the Naval Electronics Laboratory up in Point Loma.

So, one early weekday morning in mid-May, 3,000 students converged at the entrance of the Lab along Catalina Boulevard –in the usually sedate and conservative neighborhood of Point Loma. The entrance to the military facility was effectively blocked by the sheer numbers of students walking across the boulevard, bringing business at the Lab to a halt for several hours. No disrespect was shown drivers, there was no violence, no arrests were made, — just a solemn slow-moving mass of people circulating in front of the entrance — San Diego Police officers hung back, their numbers entirely dwarfed by those of the protesters.

A week into the student strike, California Governor Ronald Reagan — who could not appear at a college campus without causing a disturbance — signed an order closing all the state university and college campuses. This gubernatorial decree effectively ended — for awhile at least – the college bases of the anti-war movement in California.

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We do remember. Please save a quiet moment today for these martyrs. Check this out.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris May 4, 2017 at 11:43 am

I as a vet will usually support fellow vets to a fault but sometimes that can be difficult. On one hand I am appalled that these Guardsmen are not spending the rest of their lives in a prison cell. But then I am reluctant to judge because I wasn’t there and not in their situation. At the same time as I am appalled I also want to give them the benefit of the doubt that just maybe they were young (probably the same age as the students) and naïve who were following botched up orders and perhaps this experience has haunted them for the rest of their lives.

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Bob May 4, 2017 at 2:52 pm

Had this pacifist socialist scum been in class, like either their parents or the government was paying for, this catastrophe would never have happened. I take exception to “four students murdered”, the most honorable Ohio Guardsmen acted most appropriately. All students who weren’t in their scheduled and assigned classes that day, and instead we’re out protesting, should have been expelled, appropriate for the parasites that they were. The only true catastrophe to come out of this was that mary ann vecchio, a runaway and a nonconformist, was needlessly elevated to celebrity status b cause another loser photographed her, weeping over the dead body of one of the troublemakers, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time (again, this wouldn’t have happened had he been in his scheduled and assigned class).

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie May 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm

We published this recent comment just to demonstrate the vitriol that is still out there. OMG, really Bob??!!

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Colin Purdy May 4, 2017 at 9:17 pm

In fairness to Bob, all of those Cambodians killed by the Khmer Rouge that rose from Nixon’s bombings of Cambodia weren’t murdered, they were nonconformists in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Chris May 4, 2017 at 9:47 pm

You do know Bob that of those four killed, two were not even protesters but were in fact students walking to class. You also know Bob that one of these two students (William Schroeder) waking to class was a member of the school’s ROTC program? By virtue of the fact you have a pulse Bob this is something you are already aware of? If not, perhaps you need to grow a brain.

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Nancy Reece May 4, 2017 at 3:53 pm

The memory of this day will be with me forever. After having lunch I left for class that day..there was no directive to stay inside or that classes were cancelled. I was walking from tritowers when a group of armed guards came over the rise with weapons raised. I am forever grateful for the individual who took me by the arm and steered us away. Shortly after I heard shots then what sounded like fireworks. They weren’t. It was a very long time before I heard ambulances arrive.

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Chris May 4, 2017 at 7:12 pm

William Schroeder who was one of the the two students (out of the 4 killed) who were simply walking to class was also a member of the ROTC.

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