May 5, 1970 Was the Most Violent Day Within the Country in American History

by on May 5, 2020 · 7 comments

in Civil Disobedience, History, Peace Movement

The day after the Kent State Massacre, Tuesday, May 5, was one of the most violent days in American history. It was the day when college and university students realized that four from their generation were dead because of protests against the Vietnam war. It certainly ranks up there as one of the most turbulent days inside the country.

What follows in our latest installment in the series commemorating the student rebellion and strike of May 1970. We offer it without apology, without recourse but with the knowledge that despite the tedious repetition, it is part of our American experience, an important day in our modern history. Yet, it is also very significant to understand that all this history has never been accounted for, the record has not been re-discovered, the voices and acts of America’s young remained buried. Until now, perhaps.

May 5, 1970 is also a day that goes ignored because of the “flashier” day that came before it, May 4. In all the media and academic commemorations that are going on this week, there won’t be barely a mention of May 5.

Let’s correct the record. So much happened 50 years ago to the day, that’s it impossible here to account for it all. What we can is offer but samples of what came down on American colleges and universities.

In case you missed it … our series started last week with a day-by-day account of 50 years ago.  (here’s the intro, Monday May 1, Weekend May 2-3, May 4, and the website).

May 5, 1970 demonstration at Colby College in Maine.


Colby College, Waterville

By the hundreds, students gathered on the lawn of Miller Library at 11 a.m. This was different than other student gatherings. Everyone was serious and somber. The American flag in front of the library was lowered in remembrance of the four Kent State victims.  A number of faculty members and student government representatives got up and spoke before the crowd.

Steve Orlov, student government president, “spoke of his efforts to coordinate action with student government presidents from other Maine colleges.” He spoke of his hopes of sending a joint telegram to Maine’s Senators, Edmund Muskie and Margaret Chase Smith to have them return to the state to discuss “the Cambodian problem” with students. Perhaps they could come to Colby that upcoming weekend.

Dr. Robert Reuman was the first professor to speak. He expressed his sorrow, “even anger,” over the events of the preceding days and suggested non-violent protest as the most efficacious means to deter President Nixon from in his Cambodian attacks. Prof. Eugene Peters was next and he spoke the difficulties of teaching and thinking in a nation whose words have been distorted in the name of government policy. He cited the absurdity of labeling the massive American arsenal, “Peace Power.”

The conservatively minded Prof. Elison was equally angered at the state of American foreign and domestic policy and attacked Nixon for characterizing all college students as “bums.” The last faculty member to speak was Prof. David Stratman who observed that the powers that incite war and racism are the same that led to the deaths of the four Kent students. He encouraged students to see the present problems in the larger context of the systematic economic oppression which has long harmed Americans, especially those who are Black.

Student John Sobel then rose and announced a march to downtown Waterville for the afternoon. The march from Colby into the small town began at the flagpole by Miller Library and would eventually wind its way to the town’s Post Office. At the head of the march were 4 coffins symbolizing the Kent State 4, carried by 24 students. Behind the coffins, massed up to an estimated 400 Colby students. As the long, somber procession wound through the streets of downtown Waterville, a bass drum marked a funeral beat. One woman student draped herself in an American flag.

By time the march of students and faculty had reached the Post Office some people from Waterville had joined in. The pall bearers placed the mock coffins on the Post Office grass lawn as Post Office men and a few police officers stood nearby. Several student marchers reached the government flagpole and lowered the flag to half-mast. While the crowd stood silent, a professor spoke briefly.

The flag lowering had angered the post office men and they loudly complained from the steps of the Post Office that the protesters had no authority to move the flag. The postmaster himself came out and announced that as the official in charge of a federal building, he had the authority to call out the National Guard.

One postman moved into the crowd and raised the flag to its full height. As the flag moved up the pole, the crowd clapped rhythmically; one student shouted out “Pig!”; other harsh words were spoken back and forth. But the handful of police “maintained order by acting in a friendly manner toward the crowd,” the Echo campus newspaper reported. Yet the march had galvanized a sizable segment of the campus; classes had been canceled for the day, and roughly 40% of the student body actively participated in the activities through the week.

New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire – Durham

Several hundred students convened on the lawn at campus at 8 am. Speeches by students and faculty were heard. Philosophy professor Paul Brockelman gave a speech in which he expressed support for the movement but warned students not to take it too far.

“I think we have to be extremely careful at this stage. It means we have to be careful with those policemen. We have to be careful with those National Guardsmen. We must be as sure as we can be that we do not allow them to get in the position where they can pull the trigger. We must control our own lives.”

The event of the day was supposed to be speeches by members of the Chicago 7 at 3:30. But as the hours mounted, organizers weren’t certain whether they would show. They knew the famous Chicago defendants were supposed to be in court in New York City that day and didn’t think they could make it to New Hampshire until later.

Meanwhile, with the fear on the other side mounting, the campus became packed by state and local police officers and the New Hampshire National Guard had been set up in a small, nearby town of Newmarket less than 4 miles south of Durham. The Governor had two groups of State Troopers out of sight but nearby. He also had alerted the National Guard in Concord. Earlier, trusted students had been dispatched – including senior John Scagliotti – to drive to Logan Airport in Boston to pick up the Chicago 7 members, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Dave Dellinger who were flying in from New York City.

During their dinner prior to arrival, one of the trio penned a note on a napkin that made its way back to the rally organizers waiting at the Field House, the site of the rally and speeches. The hand-scribbled note read:

 “The conspiracy has come to New Hampshire. We will speak tonight at 7:30 at the STRIKE rally. We refuse to be duped by the trustees of the University into compromising the plans by the strike organizers. There’s no such thing as half a free speech. See you tonight.”

Organizers were relieved – but trouble laid ahead as there was the court order to have the speeches given between 3:30 and 6:30 pm. Yet the guests wouldn’t get here until at least 7:30. At 3:30 p.m. an estimated 4,000 students packed the Field House, expecting to hear speeches by Hoffman, Rubin and Dellinger. Once they informed it would be another three hours, many of the students sat on the grass or milled around, more curious than belligerent. 7:30 p.m came. This time 4,500 students packed the place with another 3,000 outside trying to get in. Soon after Hoffman, Rubin and Dellinger took the stage.

Dave Dellinger opened with a mock apology for being late. “I don’t mean I’m sorry we were not here at 3:30.”  The crowd cheered. “Right on,” he said. The group was pulled over by a state police officer right as the entered campus at a “routine” checkpoint for  a “random safety stop.”

“I think the National Guard was afraid,” Dellinger, the older of the activists, said, “because what to you do with 4,000 screaming college students who would come wherever you are?”

Rubin was next. He continued the theme about freedom of speech and who has the power. He yells into the mike how students have the power and the trustees didn’t shut down the rally because they are afraid of the students. He shouts –

“school is just an advanced form of toilet training! That’s what school is!  And taking an examination is just like taking a shit! That’s what it’s like!

You know you gather it all in and gather it all in and you wait for the right moment when your fucking professor tells ya ‘this is the moment’ and then the moment comes along, you been conditioned and then you let it pour out, you just flush the toilet.

All the shit comes out and boom it’s over and you feel so good afterwards! It’s got nothing to do with education. You haven’t learned a thing when it’s all over. We ain’t gonna take another examination. We ain’t gonna go to another class… 

It would be the night, Rubin declared, that “we showed the trustees it’s us, not them, who decides who runs this university.” Rubin went on about professors, administrators and the judge who tried to shut the rally down. Finally, he screams “… when you have tyranny, revolution is the only order!”

Rubin then lights up a fat joint right there on stage in front of everyone, including the police. A few audience members take a hit. Abby Hoffman walks up, takes some hits with Rubin, then turns to the audience with the mike and informed everybody that there an additional 3,000 outside. He shouts

“New Hampshire, tonight the granite is gonna crack! Tonight the Old Man of the Mountain is going to blow his motherfucking brains out!”

The crowd roars. He cracked a few anti-American imperialism jokes about the Washington Monument, and the crowd laughed. Hoffman told  a story about going on a family trip when he was seven to Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, when he read a pamphlet about a rental that said “Christian clientele only.” He continued, and announced that the dinosaurs who run New Hampshire need to be kicked out of office. Hoffman, Rubin and Dellinger repeatedly led the field house crowd in a chant of “Strike!

Tension was high but also there was a celebratory mood among the crowd by time the rally ended. Some students wanted more action but in the end, nothing happened. The hall was not burned to the ground, as predicted. A local newspaper reported the situation at the campus could have been much different what with the thousands of students who turned out for the rally and the charged atmosphere. It then quoted the governor. “Yet, as Gov. Walter Peterson pointed out Wednesday, there was not a pane of glass broken, not a single bloody nose reported, not a single arrest recorded.”


St. Michael’s College – Winooski Park

It was lunchtime at St. Michael’s College on Tuesday, May 5. Around 12:15, people began to mill around Alliot Hall. A microphone had already been set up. Students were puzzled about what was going on. Of course, the topic of discussion was the events of the day before where four students had died at Kent State at the end of National Guardsmen barrels. It had shocked everyone. The crowd had grown to about 250 with many wearing black armbands

About 12:40 an administrator by the name of Ed Fitzgerald took the mike. Fitzgerald scanned the crowd and then spoke into the microphone. He began, “You’ve all read the papers and heard the report. Four students have been killed at Kent State.” Fitzgerald paused ever so briefly and then blurted out, “There is going to be a march to UVM to protest this action.” He had everyone’s attention. “Now there are several things that are going to have to be done,” he said, and “You know the feeling of the local populace.”

 The march must be orderly and quiet. The students with black armbands are marshals. They will make sure that everyone marches in an orderly fashion. My primary concern is that no one from St. Michael’s is hurt. If you don’t marshal this march then somebody else will marshal it for you. Keep silent, stay on the sidewalk. We do not have a parade permit. Keep calm. I realize this is I an explosive issue but we don’t want any violence here.”           

Over to his left a banner had been tied to two posts with the words “Join Us For Freedom” painted in red. The crowd – now about 400 – surged as one body to the entrance of the college. The banner had been taken down and two students carried it up to the front of the march.  The students marched silently off campus, and as it was a warm day some men students took their shirts off. As the marchers approached Rte. 89, a Winooski patrol car met them, having been notified earlier by the dean. The police car turned on its blue light and escorted the marchers into the small town of Winooski on the edge of the campus. The line of silent marchers stretched nearly 1300 feet; now an estimated 500 to 1,000 as they reached the center of town. Some residents came out and stood on the sidewalks as they watched the procession. Traffic in Winooski had slowed to a near halt. More townspeople came out of their homes and shops to witness the march move silently pass, with no sounds except the shuffle of feet as the marchers had taken over an entire side of the road, heading for Burlington.

As the marchers reached the Winooski bridge they lost their police escort. Once they approached Burlington, a Burlington Police Cruiser at the side of the road issued orders for them to return to the sidewalk. The line stretched from halfway up the hill to Winooski Center with the last marchers just making the turn at the Winooski intersection.

One student remarked, “This is a lot of people for this school.” Another student retorted, “Ten would be a lot for this school.” There were several police cars visible as the marchers crossed a street and started for Ira Allen Chapel. At 2:00 p.m. a student from the University of Vermont addressed the marchers with a bullhorn. He called out the students from St. Michael’s and welcomed them as brothers and sisters. There was no tension in the air despite the solemn occasion. About 15 minutes passed – and finally the marchers from the University of Vermont could be seen down the street, rounding a corner.

A St. Michael’s student newspaper reporter described the moment.

The line of UVM students which followed the caskets was incredibly long. In groups of three the students kept coming and coming. As more and more students assembled on the lawn before the caskets several people remarked at the utter lack of sound. Except for the rustling of feet nothing could be heard. The thousand or so participants merely waited.

Four white crosses bearing the names of the Kent students who were killed stood before the caskets. When all the marchers had been seated a spokesman came to the microphone and announced that the crosses would be pounded into the grounds.

Once the crosses were driven one by one into the ground next to the caskets, someone announced several church services would be held that evening to pray for the Kent State students who had died. Another announcement came stating that Vermont’s Senator Aiken was writing up legislation to impeach President Nixon. This brought wild applause from the students. The crowd of 1000 to 2000 students were asked to move to an area at the far end of the park where microphones had been set up. Two television stations had cameras and audio equipment already on platforms to record the event. The mass of students shifted to the loudspeaker area.

A student moved to the microphone and read a petition that was being circulated through the crowd which called for an end to the war in Indo-China and called on Nixon to only use money to bring the troops home. A few more speakers took turns. One was the president of the student association at UVM, who spoke of the aims of the demonstration and that students were needed to step up and fully take part in the events of the next few days. A woman student from the University talked about the role of women in the current strikes and protests. She stressed the fact that two women had been killed at Kent State and that their deaths placed new responsibilities and risks on women in the protest movement.

Lieutenant Gov. Hayes approached the mike. The war must end, he said, with some finality. He described how he was astounded to see that the war not only hadn’t ended but had expanded and now was called the Indochina war. The start of the nation’s crisis, he said, was when John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

State University of New York (SUNY) – Albany

After a campus strike rally broke up in the afternoon of the first day of the strike, a huge mass of students and faculty marched from the campus to the Exit 24 of the New York State Thruway in a demonstration against the expansion of the war into Cambodia. Estimates of the crowd that then conducted a sit-in at the exit were from 1,000 to 2,500 people. Several hundred of the demonstrators fanned out across the road and blocked access to the toll booths. Traffic was blocked for more than an hour. Police rerouted traffic and they made no move to forcibly evict the students, who eventually left on their own.

At some point, a fire was set and destroyed the Flag Room Lounge in a university dormitory. It was perceived to be an anti-war protest. In total, the administration reported that between May 5 and 7 three firebombs were thrown at the Administration Building – causing minor damage –, a second fire in the dorm damaged another lounge area; another Flag Room fire destroyed a piano; and another fire caused extensive damage to a building under construction. Minor fires were set  in many buildings, along with numerous false alarms and bomb scares.

New York City

Seeking United Nations action on the US invasion of Cambodia, a massive protest by students from high schools and colleges in New York City marched to the UN building in Manhattan on Tuesday, – the day after Kent State. Thousands of demonstrators – estimates ranged from 6,000 to over 10,000 – marched through midtown traffic to reach their destination.

At the beginning of the march, a large contingent of some 300 students from NYU, met up with a like number of high schoolers and other college students at Union Square around 2:30.  They all marched up Park Avenue South, gathering supporters along the way. Also joining them were eight mounted patrolmen who at­tempted to keep the demonstra­tors from blocking traffic. the marchers headed for 32nd Street and then turned down toward Third Avenue.

Another contingent of mostly high school students ran into a large battery of police as they marched up First Avenue from 42nd Street. Police herded the marchers into an area expressly for demonstrations at 47th Street and United Nations Plaza, but many of the younger protestors thought the police were attempting to barricade off the entire demonstration, so they began to scatter and spread out over the sidewalks. At this point, the mounted police forced the crowd to clear the sidewalks of student protesters and tourists, with many UN visitors forced to remain behind the gated UN building.

Demonstrators again assembled along the west side of First Avenue, while several cans were thrown at the mounted cops. This time the mounties charged the crowd in front of the US Mission at 43rd Street. Several marchers were injured and at least one was stomped on by a horse. Some students moved over to an overpass at 42nd Street and First and began throwing rocks and bottles at half a dozen mounted patrolmen, forcing them to huddle with their steeds under the overpass and radio for reinforcements. The cavalry showed up and dispersed the group, making at least one arrest. Overall, the horsemen were used effectively to push the young people into small pockets as far as Lexington Avenue, breaking up the rest of the remnants of the protest, while the bulk of the marchers hiked to Times Square and dispersed. It was about 4 pm.

Columbia University

Fueled by the new crisis from Kent State, students at Columbia fired up a full day of protests, rallies and meetings on Tuesday. Between 1200 and 3,000 students gathered in Wollman Auditorium and voted to join the national student strike and to support its three demands — end repression at home, withdraw armed forces from Southeast Asia and abolish campus links with the Defense Department. Their vote also extended the strike through the end of the term.

Some students viewed this vote as one of the few shows of solidarity on campus during an intense day of meetings and factional squabbles that threatened to disrupt those meetings. At a noon rally of 2,000 people in Low Memorial Plaza, President Andrew W. Cordier addressed the crowd with a speech critical of Presidential policies in Southeast Asia called for the withdrawal of American troops from Cam­bodia.

“I join with millions of Americans, including students and faculty of this campus, in expressing shock over further American involvement in the Vietnam war through the extension of military activity into Cambodia and the re­newed bombing of North Viet­nam,” the 69-year old President Cordier said. “These steps,” he continued, “are more likely to lead to a still further American involvement in the conflict as well as an increase in the number of participating parties.” Despite rumors heard during the morning of being disrupted by radicals, Dr. Cordier concluded his remarks and received a long ovation. One faculty member commented that his speech was an act of courage.

Cordier was followed by Seymour Melman, professor of industrial engineering, who heralded a call for “disengaging of the university from the American war machine that calls itself the Department of Defense.” Soon after, the platform was taken over by members of militant organizations who felt Columbia administrators were glossing over past accusations of racism in how it treated neighboring Black communities and its complicity in the war machine.

During the day, 20 students picketed outside the Journal­ism School building where they believed the Pulitzer Prizes were being awarded to protest the mainstream media’s compliance with the war machine and its failure to report on the scale and intensity of May’s protests. That evening an estimated 1,200 students took seats in the McMillin Theater at Columbia to hear more speeches – but these were from the popular William Kunstler, lawyer for the Chicago 7, and the counsel for the Panther 21, Gerald Lefcourt. Kunstler pressed the students to “declare a college strike and then encourage the entire economy to strike.” He spoke of his belief that the “events of the last week have raised the struggle to a new plateau.” He said, “We cannot go back to where we were 10 days ago.”

“All over the US colleges must come to a halt until we withdraw from Southeast Asia, until there is some promise of an end to racism, and until there is some promise of an end to the poverty that leaves 15 million children with empty bellies in this country.”

Once the meeting was over, Kunstler and Lefcourt accompanied students as they marched up Broadway.

New York University

In a dramatic move that increased tension on the NYU campus a thousand-fold, squads of striking students moved to occupy Warren Weaver Hall and Kimball Hall. Warren Weaver contained a $3.5 million dollar computer owned by the Atomic Energy Commission and leased by NYU in the Courant Institute of Mathe­matical Sciences (CIMS); Kimball Hall was the University’s financial center.

As part of their strike and occupation demands at Warren Weaver, the students stated they were holding the computer as a hostage and were demanding $100,000 from the University to be used as bail money for imprisoned Black Panthers. Students were separated from the ac­tual computer by a metal door with glass windows similar to one they had to break through to enter the com­puter center. The “liberated” buildings also became student strike centers, one was even called a “commune” by its member occupiers. While everyone waited for NYU President Hester’s response to the newly ratcheted up situation, he was attempting to obtain a court injunction to remove the strikers ASAP.

The students, meanwhile in command of the University print shop in the Kimball Hall “Commune”, were printing and distributing fliers, leaflets and manifestos, some of which called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, others invited fellow NYU students to join their “injunction party” and “make revolutionary love in the streets.” Over on streets near the campus, a student guerilla theatre troop re-enacted the murders at Kent State.

Buffalo State University College

At noon a huge rally was held to commemorate the Kent State shootings and to protest the Cambodian invasion and persecution of the Panthers. This was Buffalo State’s first day of ma­jor anti-war protest since last Novem­ber. The gathering listened to a number of speakers, most of whom called for a campus-wide strike. In the aftermath of Kent State, many students were angry and outraged, and this outrage played out during the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. Reacting both to the Kent kill­ings and the Cambodian invasion, one student as Buffalo State ex­pressed the fear that the killings were “a deliberate attempt to scare the peace movement.”

When Dr. Richard Meisler, Director of the Freshman Year Program, addressed the crowd, he compared the four dead students at Kent State University with the thousands of dead people in Indochina. “It’s coming home now.” he said. He also strongly en­dorsed a campus strike in opposition to President Nixon’s Indochina policy. A member of the faculty, Paul Hennig, read from a 1932 speech by Adolf Hitler on “law and order,” implicitly comparing it with Nixon’s policies. More pro-strike speakers got up and called for a student strike, including the student body president.

When the rally broke up, the crowds of students moved in different directions. Hundreds walked from the Union toward Rockwell Hall with the intent of occupying it as part of the antiwar protest. As this sector of the crowd closed in on Rockwell, a bunch of students attempting to mobilize more people went into the Communications Center and Butler Library. At some point, someone pulled a fire alarm and the library emptied out.

The crowd, swollen to between 600 and 900, entered Rockwell, milled around the second floor  hallway and then entered Rockwell auditorium. Many began chanting for the president, Dr. E. K Fretwell . “We want Fretwell!” they repeated to get him to make an appearance and take a stand on the strike. Minutes later he did appear and walked up to the stage. Applause greeted him as he walked through the auditorium. He spoke briefly about the “tragedy” of Kent State and said participation in the strike was “a mat­ter of personal conscience.”

After the speakers, there was a wide ranging and often confusing debate on what tactics the students should employ. Some wanted to block students from taking classes, others felt it was up to the individual. Finally, one speaker shook the students out of their mire, by telling them they should occupy the occupy administra­tors’ offices and hold discussions, plus he also warned them against com­mitting any violence or damage. About fifty students occupied Fretwell’s office, but he had already left the building. Other offices on the second and third floors were also entered as part of the occupation. Students also tied up the phone lines, blocking administrators and security from making calls from inside the building.

While these students were occupying Rockwell Hall, another group sat or stood on the north side of Rockwell Road at Elmwood Avenue enforcing a partial blockade of the street, only allowing cars to exit from campus. To reinforce the blockade, one student parked his car behind the protestors. “On Strike” black spray-painted signs appeared on walls, signs and floors. The occupation of the administration building continued through the afternoon, with the students departing that evening. Reportedly, some windows in office doors had been broken.

Back at the main rally, a huge crowd – one estimate was of 1,500, others had at it at 500 – also left the rally – and began chanting “Remember Kent State” and “Shoot me, shoot me!” to police officers nearby. The students then turned toward downtown Buffalo. Some in the crowd smashed the windows of several banks. When the marchers reached Buffalo’s Main Street, they blocked traffic. And when police showed there was a violent confrontation, where demonstrators pelted police with stones and then set fire to the barricade. What followed were two hours of  skirmishes between students and police – and which continued well into the night. Two people were injured during a window-smas­hing spree. The rally had been peaceful until one student shouted. “Remember Kent State.”

There are conflicting reports on what happened next. One report stated, “Police were armed with tear gas, but according to official reports, none of the tear gas was used, nor were there any reports of injuries or arrests.” Yet others reported, “500 students marched through the streets of the city and were confronted by police. They were promptly gassed,” and “about 300 students engaged in a rock throwing, tear-gas exchange with city police [in the] afternoon about two blocks from the University campus.” Another report had, “For at least two hours hundreds were gassed while protestors smashed bank windows.”

As day became night, police moved onto the Buffalo State campus when reports came in of a crowd of 50 students attempting to set a campus building on fire. Students had pushed wood through broken windows at the Project Themis building and then set the wood aflame. The Project Themis was a scientific study funded by the Department of Defense, which studied, in part, surveillance, technology of military vehicles; behavioral and social sciences – all with military importance.

Not only were students skirmishing with police, they had to contend with a group of forty to fifty local high school students armed with knives, rocks, and zip guns who attacked them as they were confronting the police.

Washington, D.C.

American University

Rennie Davis of the Chicago Seven told a crowd of hundreds of students from American University as well as from George Washington University, Tuesday that this weekend’s demonstrations in Washington DC were designed to “declare a total victory against the people who make war in this coun­try.” He also said, “Nixon is not the future. Agnew is not the future; we are the future and we are going to take this country back by any means necessary.” Faculty at the economics and sociology departments at American Univer­sity had declared they will remain on strike until the United States has withdrawn from Southeast Asia.

George Washington University

By Tuesday, the strike was in effect. Buildings were sealed off by students and classes were disrupted. At noon, from 1500 to 2000 striking students congregated for a memorial service in front of the University Center and dedicated the building to the four slain Kent State students. Strike posters were plastered everywhere on campus, with the most popular having “Kent State” stenciled over the clenched fist, symbol of the strike movement. People also wore strike shirts with the same logos.

At 3 pm, some 300 students rallied at the campus Hall of Government building where they were greeted by a student with a bull horn who yelled, “We’ve taken the undergraduate school away from them, we’ve taken the law school away from them; now we’re going over to Rice Hall for a dia­logue with the administration.” Chanting “On strike! On Strike!” Shut it Down!” the crowd marched the four blocks to Rice Hall, the administration building. Along the way, some stopped off at a Good Humor ice cream truck for a cold break. When the marchers did reach Rice Hall, it was already locked down. The chant changed to “On strike, Open it Up!” The University flag was lowered and a strike banner raised in its place. After a half hour of milling around, the crowd dispersed.

While several colleges and universities in the DC area were making efforts to house the thousands expected for the weekend demonstration, George Washington University had obtained a court injunction barring any of them from sleeping in G. W. dorms. The administration warned that if the more than 1,000 protestors are not out of the dorms by 12:01 Friday morning, police were expected to move in and clean out the dormitory area.


University of Virginia

The 200 students occupying Maury Hall, , the building that housed the National Reserve Officers Training Corps, were rudely awakened at 5:00 a.m. Tuesday when University police showed up and read them a court injunction against their “unlawful occupation”, and with the threat of arrest hanging over their collective heads, most of the crowd inside dispersed. Some continued however to stay. Meanwhile, hundreds of students had cut classes in order to attend a memorial service and other events on the U. of VA campus.

West Virginia

Marshall University – Huntington

At 9:30 am 35 to 40 Marshall students began a sit-in outside ROTC classrooms, which were housed on the second floor of Gullickson Hall. A half hour later, another group of protesters began marching across the campus including through campus buildings. They chanted, “ROTC feeds the war machine!” and “Strike! Strike!” Winding through campus, they ended up in front of Shawkey Student Union. There were calls for Marshall to join the national student strike.

Within several minutes, the crowd took off again and marched to the Intramural Field with the plan to drill with the ROTC students. They carried brooms and mops, and some wore red armbands. Once they reached the field, they found out that the ROTC drill had been cancelled due to their anticipated protest. Undeterred, the protesters marched up and down the field a few times carrying their brooms and mops over their shoulders. Finally, they reassembled and headed off to downtown Huntington to carry on their demonstration.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Around 8 am, bomb threats were called in to campus police claiming bombs in three campus buildings — which minutes later were evacuated. All three buildings were searched but police found no bombs. The student strike started when more than a dozen graduate student assistants in the English Department refused to hold classes and called for a noon rally at Polk Place instead. The rally attracted between 1,000 and 2,000 students. John Rosenthal told the crowd,

“At Kent State they said they ran out of tear gas and four students are dead. We cannot allow it to continue. What we have to do,” he said, “is join our brothers and sisters in closing down every University in this country. Let’s not go back to classes until we are sure that we will not be shot down because the National Guard ran out of tear gas.”  A petition calling for faculty support of the student strike circulated through the throng.

Once the hour-long rally was over, from 1600 to 2000 students jammed together and began marching around campus, through buildings and shouted, “On strike, shut it down!” And as they chanted, students left their classrooms and joined the marchers.

They marched through Murphey Hall, past the AFROTC buildings, through the Union, and past the NROTC building before they returned to Polk Place. There were two incidents along the way. At the Naval Armory, marchers halted and lowered the American flag to half-mast in honor of the Kent State students. Immediately a squad of NROTC cadets rushed out, wearing red, white and blue armbands, pushed through the crowd and raised the flag back. As the marchers turned to re-lower it, one of the protesters climbed up on the anti-aircraft gun in front of the armory and yelled out for people to continue to march to South Building, which they did. As the marchers walked through the rotunda of South Building, several windowpanes were broken, and a trashcan overturned.

Duke University in Durham

It was the first day of the student strike called for Duke and bells in the Gothic Tower tolled four times that hour and each hour afterwards in memory of the four Kent State students. 500 students attended a mass for the Kent State students, during which four half burnt candles sat on a table draped with a black cloth, with Rev. Ned Reddy conducting the service. He intoned, “It could have been any four of us.”

University of South Carolina – Columbia

It was the aftermath of the Kent State shootings, and on the campus of the University of South Carolina, more than a hundred students peacefully gathered to protest their deaths. Their numbers soon swelled to 300 and led by four black crosses, each with the name of one of the slain Kent State students, the students formed a procession and marched across the Columbia campus.

Tensions on the USC campus were already high when Kent State occurred – due mainly because of the repressive nature of the administration. Standing before the students who had rallied, incoming student body president, Mike Spears declared, “There will be peace on this campus.” He said protestors were marching “because they are concerned and feel they are representatives of the oppressed.”

In an attempt to bring all the disparate peace and activist groups and forces together to forge a campus-wide response to the Kent State killings, a meeting was held on campus. And in the shadow of what had just happened in Ohio the day before, everyone placed their individual group agendas aside, and a strike committee was formed. It immediately called for a peaceful and voluntary student strike of classes for Thursday and Friday, May 7 and 8 to protest the Kent State events and the repression against civil and academic liberties. The composition of the Strike Committee was impressive. It included members of the Student Senate, the Inter-Fraternity Council, the Association of Afro-American Students, the Student Mobilization Committee, the American Association of University Professors, former members of a radical antiwar group called AWARE, cultural rebels of FREAK and numerous concerned usually-apolitical students.

University of Miami, Coral Gables – outside Miami

On Tuesday, there were two incidents with home-made flammable devices being used against the University. Around 5 am, a home-made device was thrown against the exterior door of the air-conditioning building behind the Computer Center. It created a loud noise but caused no damage. It appeared to be an attempt at creating heat problems for the computers. Chief of campus se­curity said the incident is being investigated by the Metro Bomb Squad.

The second incident occurred just after midnight the same day, when a molotov cocktail was thrown in the parking lot behind the Armory where Army trucks were parked. The gas-filled bottled blew up, flared but was quickly extinguished. There was no damage in this incident either.

Mainstream press, “The Miami Hurricane” labeled these incidents as “bombings.” University President Harry Stanford reported little damage and no injuries from the “bombings.” With blinders apparently on and a memory lapse of what had just happened at Kent State the day before, Stanford declared without a hint of irony, “It takes no courage to attack a college campus. It is the basest cow­ardice to attack the Universi­ty, which is truly an open and defenseless society.” Just the day before, National Guardsmen fired live bullets at defenseless students on a university campus.

Also Tuesday, there were two incidents over flying the American flag at half-mast at two different flagpoles on campus. Over at the campus Post Office, student protesters got into a pushing and shoving match with other students over whether to have the Post Office flag flown at half-mast in honor of the Kent State students. Post Office officials stepped in and took the flag down and removed it to resolve the conflict.

At the Ashe Building, students lowered the flag to half-mast, but just for mere moments before some Cuban students raised it back up. The Assistant Vice President cautioned the students, “Let’s not lose sight of the four students.” The next day, all campus flags were flying at half-mast. Interestingly, the “Miami Hurricane” called these attempts to put the flag at half-mast “efforts of tearing the flag down.” So, at least twice, the newspaper had used overblown emotionally searing language to describe things on the campus. Nobody was trying to tear the flag down but have it flown at half-mast. No one bombed the university, there was a minor inflammatory device and a Molotov cocktail.

Emory University, Atlanta

Tuesday morning, striking students beginning at 7:30 am, began handing out this leaflet:

“National Student Strike

This week we have seen:

1.      The Invasion of Cambodia by US ground troops

2.      Resumption of bombing on North Vietnam

3.      The Murder of 4 Kent State U students by National Guard

All this in the face of the largest public anti-war sentiment in US history. We must stand together now to express our outrage at the Nixon Admin policy

The NSA has called a Nation-Wide student strike beginning Tuesday
We are on strike at Emory !! Now!!

7:30 Tues morning – picket and leaflet at the South Gate
10 Tuesday morning – Rally on the Quad, speakers, bread and puppet, music
End the War”

Thirty students began leafleting car drivers at two entrances of the campus beginning at 7:30 am. Standing in the streets, the strikers stopped campus commuters driving in, handed them the leaflets and informed them of the strike. Students also attending classes were met with leaflets urging their participation.  As the day began, it promised to be one of a lengthy intensity. The Kent State shootings had just occurred the day before; the day was also the first day of the nationwide student strike. Two hundred people had just met the night before and had set up a day’s long series of events.

After a 10 o’clock rally, hundreds of students very enthusiastically marched across the campus accompanied by the Bread and Puppet Theater with their drums and cymbals, while others blew horns as they urged people to join the crowd, in protest against the Cambodian invasion. The marchers continued around Fraternity Row – and cheers went up when some Greeks joined the throng. The crowd grew from 300 up to an estimated 1,000. As they marched, chants went up of “On strike, Shutdown!” “Join us!”

The column of marchers reached the Administration building, where a couple hundred peeled off and ran into the building. When they reached the fourth-floor office of the president, they demanded that President Atwood take public stands on the national crises. But they were told he had left and couldn’t be reached. In response, dozens sat down in the hallway. It was a brief sit-in. Most students then left the interior of the building and reassembled on the steps.

Out on the steps, the protestors formulated three questions or demands which they felt the president should have to answer: they wanted him to denounce the Cambodian invasion as he had in the past spoken out against the Vietnam War; they wanted him to express his sympathy for the four Kent State students killed the day before; and thirdly they requested that ROTC be removed from the campus.

Nearly two hours later, President Atwood finally appeared and read a prepared statement on the three issues. He would continue to oppose the Vietnam war, he said, but since he did not have the information President Nixon had when he made his Cambodia decision, he couldn’t make a fair judgment call at the moment; he regretted the Kent State deaths and abhorred the presence of the National Guard on the Ohio campus.  He added, “I hope we never have a similar situation here.”

Concerning the strike at Emory, he said, “If, in your own conscience, you can see through your academic work successfully and carry out formal protest, this is the best you can do; for eventually you will be heard.” Atwood also recommended a formal petition be sent to Nixon and the Georgia delegation in Congress signed by the entire 5,000-member student body.

Over at the US flag and the flagpole, all day long the flag had been lowered to half-mast for the Kent State students, then someone would raise it back up, and then someone else would lower it again; this went on and on, until finally an offiical removed the flag completely. However, another group of students showed up with their own American flag to raise. An argument ensued about whether to fly the flag, but it ended when the flagpole rope was cut.

Out on the Quad, the rally that began around 10 that morning had continued through the day and lasted until around 6 pm. The crowds varied during the day, but estimates placed the number of participants at more than a thousand at its peak. 700 had gathered for its closing. At one point, the Student Government Association vice president reminded everyone that the “strike was called not against the university but by the university.” Earlier in the day, the faculty had voted to remove academic credit from the campus ROTC program.

Vanderbilt University – Nashville

More than 400 Vanderbilt students, faculty and community members marched along the sidewalk from the campus to downtown Nashville and the Federal Building, demonstrating their opposition to the expansion of the war, chanting a number of slogans, including, “How many Viet Nams?!”

University of Kentucky – Lexington

Protests at the University of Kentucky at Lexington of the Kent State incident began at 1 pm on Tuesday, when students congregated around the Office Tower fountain. They were also protesting US involvement in Cambodia and firearms on campus. Yet, when the rally broke up, the crowd moved to the Office Tower and the entire group tried to enter the building. Students broke up – with many of them running up the 18 flights of stairs while others tried to take the various elevators. At some point, there was nearly 200 protesters on the 18th floor – and that’s when police moved to block off the stairwells and halt the elevators. They contended any more students would be a fire hazard. Each time an elevator came up, it was met with a club-wielding campus police officer who ordered it back down, as students already on the floor, chanted “Let them out! Let them out!”

Meanwhile, inside a Board of Trustees meet­ing, student body president Steve Bright delivered the students’ position and recommendations:

“I realize that there was a class boycott less than a month ago and that ex­tremely large numbers of stu­dents desire to proceed with the present academic schedule, and I respect their right to do so.

“But I feel that these con­siderations are secondary to the overriding importance of the influence of the expansion of the Southeast Asian conflict and the Kent State incident on many students here.”

“It is my hope and request that all members of the faculty will respect the personal convictions of those students who participate in the student strike today, and that provisions will be made to allow students partic­ipating to make necessary ar­rangements with no punitive ac­tion.”

As he spoke, University administrators were threatening students out in the hallways waiting patiently with orders to “move or go to jail”. The students patiently refused to budge and continued to chant slogans. The students, Bright continued inside “have been concerned since the statement of President Nixon last Thursday. The pensive and thoughtful attitude of the students has turned into one of frustration and helplessness. Many of us have been involved in opposition to the war for months or years. We see our present involvement in Cam­bodia becoming a matter of months and years.” He continued, “The death of four students at Kent State comes as a shock to the entire academic community. Students, board members, administrators and faculty menders have ex­pressed their deep concern and regret for this deplorable event. It is also a consideration that the same thing could occur on our campus — this is something we all must reflect on and con­sider carefully.”

Bright then presented two student requests to the Board; that the Board condemn the slayings at Kent State Uni­versity on Monday the day before, and, that the board take action to prohibit firearms on campus, includ­ing police weapons. The Trustees adjourned their meeting without taking any action on the students’ requests. After the board members departed the students remained in the room and hallways and demanded to be heard.

After some spirited debate, President Otis A. Singletary agreed to meet with ten students. After the closed-door meeting, Singletary said, there was “no sizable inter­est by the board” to ban firearms on campus. The only thing he’s been persuaded about, he added, was that students “dislike” arms on campus. And he would not endorse the proposed boycott of classes.

At the brief rally attended by an estimated 500 students, four mock caskets for the students killed at Kent State had been made. The crowd proceeded to march through the campus with the caskets. Later that day, the crowd moved through the Donovan- Margin area, stopping traffic as it went. The crowd halted at the corner of Euclid and Lime­stone, undecided of where to go next. Some wanted to go downtown, and others wanted to march on to Barker Hall, the ROTC building. The only consensus that developed was a spontaneous sit-in in the middle of the intersection. Local police kept their distance. They did halt traffic back to the Short Street intersection.

After some moments, the crowd rose up and marched on toward the ROTC building in Buell Armory. Once at the Armory, confusion appeared to reign among the some 300 demonstrators. An occasional rock crashed through a window of the Armory, and each time one did, it was met with loud boo’s. Someone yelled out, “That’s their way of doing things — we don’t want to be like them,” obviously referring to the establishment.

The crowd actually started to break up. Then students noticed a few cops with walkie-talkies near the edges of the throng. The situation then started to drastically change. First, Dean of Students showed up and ordered them to leave – or face possible arrest. The mood of the dwindling crowd immediately reversed, especially when they realized ranks of police moving in. Armed with billy clubs, tear gas canisters and their weapons, state, local and campus police lined up in front of Buell Armory to block any student movement toward the ROTC building. The protesters refused to move and the waiting game of a stand-off continued for a few moments.

Then a grad student lobbed a rock over the heads of the police towards the Armory. Several state police then rushed in and arrested him for disorderly conduct, striking another student in the process. After this burst of action, police – with their man – appeared to retreat from their position. Things relaxed somewhat. Then out of nowhere, there was a boom! – a loud explosion – students looked up and were shocked to see a huge fireball. It took a few moments, but when they realized the Air Force ROTC building was on fire, they scrambled to go check it out. As the students scattered, police swept in and took control over the area. The fire department soon arrived and tried to save the ROTC building, but it was deemed a total loss by time the fire was controlled. In addition, a number of dorm rooms were destroyed in, ironically, Blazer Hall. Thus ended the uneasy confrontation that had gone on all day as the students dispersed. Later, a 21-year-old woman student, was arrested for the fire and charged with arson.

University of Arkansas – Fayetteville

The first reaction of University of Arkansas students to the national crises was to hold a Memorial for the Kent State students on Tuesday, May 5.


Kent State University

The day following the massacre of four students at Kent State, President White said he was “horrified” and “shocked” and called for a Warren-type commission to investigate the tragedy; Major General Syl­vester del Corso, Ohio adjutant general who commanded the force, called the incident “regrettable, but unavoidable”; President Nixon reminded the nation that it could expect such “tragedy” from dissent; and students on college campuses across the nation went on strike to protest the ‘murders” of their peers.

Kent’s campus was virtually deserted and calm, as 400 National Guard troops were withdrawn Tuesday and it was expected that the remaining 300 would leave at the end of the week. The campus deserted except for a team of FBI agents, Justice Department officials, and officers from the U.S. Adjutant General’s Office who were investigating the causes behind the shots fired earlier by 16 Guardsmen. Ohio National Guard officials admitted Tuesday they are unable to produce evidence that a sniper fired at the troops, prompting them to kill four students while injuring eleven. Over the weekend and through Monday, a total of 136 people had been arrested.

The president of Bob Jones University told students at a Chapel that the four students killed at Kent State University “got exactly what they were entitled to,” said Dr. Bob Jones. “I’m all for the police shooting to kill when anyone is in mob violence attempting to destroy property and attack law enforcement officers. More power to them.” He added, “While I grieve for their families, I say those young people got exactly what they were entitled to, and what they should have expected and what they ought to get out in Berkeley, too,” said Jones.

Jones, son of the late Dr. Bob Jones Sr., a widely-known evangelist and founder of the fundamentalist, non-denominational university, continued, “It is contemptible for students to come in and attack a building and not expect to be killed. “They want to stir up strife, they want to bum buildings, they want to throw rocks at police and shoot whom they please and throw firebombs.” Jones said, “If the reports that have come to me are accurate, and the pictures of that thing are true, those young people should have been shot. And the country’s better off without that many more of that kind of young person. Let’s get the sympathy where it belongs. These young people, many of them are plain old communist reds …”

Ohio State University – Columbus

Mid-morning Tuesday, there were two separate protests occurring on campus. Over at Denney Hall, the College of Arts and Sciences building on campus, some fifty Black students blocked the entrances to the building as they continued their campaign for more immediate and substantive reform. No police were called out at first.

Around the same time, a large crowd of about 1,000 students protested the war over in the Oval area. Speakers implored the crowd to maintain a non-violent boycott of classes as part of the strike against the war and the Kent State killings. Students were heard chanting, “Remember Kent State! Remember Kent State!”

The student blockade remained intact. But after more than three hours of back and forth requests and refusals, the National Guard moved in and forcibly removed the demonstrators, without incident.  To some faculty members and administrators, the necessity to use the Guard to remove blockading students showed that demonstrators were becoming increasingly intransigent.

Also Tuesday night, a large group of some 200 graduate students – including teaching assistants – met and voted unanimously to support the student strike. The meeting opened with a review of strike support from the different departments. For example, the Philosophy Department had 32 of 34 teaching assistants on strike, compared with the History Department where only 29 out of 70 graduate students were. Yet all of sociology TA’s were on strike, as were 80 of 100 grad students in psychology, 80 percent of TA’s in City Planning with a quarter of the faculty, 22 of 28 grad students in comparative literature, 8 of 15 in political science, only 21 of 35 in math, only 1 in Germain out of 22, and theatre reported 30 grad students out and 9 out in dance.

Out on the Oval that night, an unusual scene was evolving. There were 1,300 National Guardsmen posted around campus. The captain of the unit at the Oval had gotten word out that he was invalidating the mayor’s curfew of 8 pm to 6 am and had invited students to camp out on the grass. A reporter from the campus paper, the Lantern had mingled with the troopers and discovered some startingly things. Individual Guardsmen were contributing to the legal defense fund for those students arrested – and a couple of men had promised their entire paycheck for the time spent on the campus. According to the Lantern “many” of the Guardsmen were taking the students’ side, as many of them were in the Guard to avoid going to Vietnam.

Wilmington College, Wilmington

By time the hour for the convocation came at Boyd Cultural Center, all 600 seats were taken, and people sat in the aisles and stood at the back rails. The meeting was opened by senior Linda Robbins with a moment of silence. A number of speakers got up and addressed the crowd on their view of current matters and about the purpose of the strike, to protest Cambodia and Kent State. Several psalms were read by Canby Jones; Jim Wilmerding talked about the strike showing their solidarity; Stan Krohmer read poetry, which ended, “… it’s coming down to you Wilming­ton. Let’s strike now!”

The Acting President of the college – a college begun by Quakers in 1870 -, Brooke Morgan, had drafted a letter along with Provost Sterling Olmsted, which they planned to send to Governor Rhodes. Morgan read from it. “We pro­test reliance on force . . . How long will it take our leaders to realize the futility of force?” This elicited a standing ovation from the large crowd. Another student, Lucy Steinitz, spoke about the plan for an anti-war mail-in set for later that day. “It is not a confrontation or a demon­stration but a walking down to the mailbox to make the point to the Nixon-Rhodes hierarchy,” she said.

Then Tom Hopkins, another student, brought the crowd to its feet and exhorted Wilmington to strike, and, he declared, “show that it’s not just a few long-haired radicals … that others are concerned, too. We’ve gotta strike — all of us, we’re all concerned.” This brought sustained applause and the die was cast. Wilmington would go on strike.

In the afternoon, the mail-in letter-writing campaign brought out about 200 students as part of the strike. Letters were written to Governor Rhodes and Richard Nixon protesting murder at Kent State and in Cambodia, and right after 4 pm the students walked in mass to the downtown post office to mail them. It proceeded without incident, other than getting stares and occasional remarks of “Get a god-damned haircut!”

The main event of the student strike that day involved eight hundred of Wilmington’s 900 students who participated in a fast for 24 hours. They also marched around campus, protesting the fighting and death in Cambodia and Kent. That evening, there was an all-campus meeting of students and faculty. Representing the faculty, was the well-known Sterling Olmsted who addressed the crowd and declared the faculty were calling the next day, Wed­nesday, a day of “mourning, re­flection, and affirmation” and had can­celled all classes.

Then Olmsted became very emphatic, and he told the crowd that he had something he “had wanted to say at the convocation this morning”. That got everyone’s attention. “We are probably living in some of the most crucial days in American history,” he said. “I don’t profess to know any answers … I wish that, in my old age, I had some words of wisdom to give to all of you. I don’t…,” he paused, and continued, “You’re doing just fine. This is basically a political deci­sion . . . We have to somehow get to those people making the decisions who are not now listening to what a very large proportion of Americans are saying to them!”

Another speaker included Tom Hopkins who explained the feelings of a good part of the campus:

“We are basically opposed to being in Cambodia . . . it’s a continuation of American policy of intervention where we’re not supposed to be … a movement in Vietnam is wrong, a movement into Cambodia is doubly wrong.”

Many miles away to the northeast at Wooster College near Cleveland, a hastily organized, somewhat spon­taneous caucusing of a dozen Ohio colleges and universities was also held that evening. The meeting had been called to discuss the murders at Kent State and the recent move by the Nixon Administration into Cambodia. Delegates from Wilmington were there and ended up playing a key role. From the Wilmington delegation then came a proposal that the twelve schools or so march on the Capital in Columbus that Friday, May 8, to protest the Kent incident and the war in Indochina.

Valparaiso University, Valparaiso IND

A brief rally at the Student Union Tuesday morning was the kick-off for a march by about 1800 stu­dents, faculty, and administrators through the town of Valparaiso. The totally peaceful action was a way for the college to express its convictions to the community. Students sitting in classrooms asked their instructors to turn discussions in class to the Cambodian situation and the plight of the country. After a chapel service Tuesday night to remember the Kent State dead, a mass of students staged a torchlight procession with a mock coffin and moved to the University’s sign on Route 30, where they planted ‘on strike’ placards.

Purdue University– Indianapolis

The day after Kent State, a rally of about 300 students was held on campus. At the close of the rally, the group marched en mass to the nearby business district of West Lafayette, where 60 demonstrators blocked a street intersection. After an hour and half, the protesters agreed to move back to the campus. At some point, two students were arrested by police.

A large rally started at 1 pm, where Purdue University students were asked to withdraw their money from Lafayette banks and to boycott local merchants as an antiwar tactic. As many as 2,000 students were gathering when it began to rain hard enough for organizers to postpone the rally.

Eastern Michigan University – Ypsilanti  – 6 miles east of Ann Arbor

A rally was held on the Mall around 7 pm, Tuesday,  the day after the Kent State shootings. People gathered and discussed what kind of actions ought to be taken to deplore the Cambodian invasion and KSU killings. There already was tension on the Ypsilanti campus as it had been three weeks since students had handed the Board of Regents a list of demands, essentially urging more student-faculty voice in the running of the university. And to date, the students perceived a total lack of action on the part of the Regents or administration, despite some negotiations that had taken place.

And then Kent State happened. Despite the pact between students and the administration to refrain from taking any actions, if students marched on the President Sponberg’s lawn,  it would be severed, an administrator had cautioned. Yet, at the rally, the 700 or so students – already disgruntled – were outraged by the murders of students at Kent just the day before and ignored the warning. They moved the demonstration from the Mall over to Forest Avenue and then to the front of the President’s house. Hundreds sat down in the street – only moving out when police showed up and asked them to leave, threatening them with arrest if they didn’t break it up. From Forest Street, the demonstrators moved into Newman Center and then engaged in discussions on what to do next. Should they begin rallies immediately – or wait for noon the following day? No consensus was reached.

That night two minor fires were set, both reported around 8 pm and easily extinguished. One was in Welch Hall – which houses the campus ROTC facilities, igniting a closet in a women’s restroom in the east wing of the building. Fire and smoke damaged the closet, the hallway, and newly installed ceiling tiles, stated the police report. The blaze in Roosevelt Hall was in the auditorium and only a couch and stage drapes were destroyed. Michigan State Police were investigating the fires and arson was suspected in both. A bottle with gas had been found near one of the fires.

Michigan State University – East Lansing

Huge letters on the leaflet cried out: “Strike!” and followed with “Boycott classes and all merchants – staring Tuesday, May 5.” It boiled the strike demands down to just a few words: “US out of Indochina now; free Bobby Seale; Solidarity with brothers and sisters of Kent State; abolish ROTC” and it announced the rally set for noon.

Protests began Tuesday morning when some 150 students chanting, “On strike! Shut it down!” marched from Brody Complex to other residence dorms drumming up support for the strike and the day’s rally. As they passed the residence halls, some students heckled them; the marchers returned the yells with “fascists!”

The main event of the day was a noon rally at Beaumont Tower, with crowd estimates ranging from 1500 to 2000 students and faculty. One of the speakers, a former senior member of student government read an open letter addressed to “Richard M. Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Julius Hoffman and the president of this institution.” People were gathered at the rally, he explained, because they realized the magnitude of the problems facing the nation. Riddle read on,

“Mr. Nixon, you have overstepped your bounds … you have overstepped your constitutional powers by moving troops into Cambodia . . . and now you have legitimized murder at Kent State University.

“We want a say in what happens in America today. We have written letters to Congress, we have signed petitions, we have marched for peace and we have been told that we do not count … but we are loud today and we will be louder tomorrow.”

Buy some television time, the speaker demanded of WSU President Wharton “with some of your friends on the board of trustees and the Rockefeller Foundation” to condemn “those university presidents who are murdering their students.” He also cautioned striking students from using violence. Instead he offered, “We can shut it (the University) down by seeing that its product cannot be turned out.”

Once the rally had concluded, much of the crowd marched en mass across campus to spread the word, to classroom buildings and residence hall complexes, chanting the now-all-too-familiar refrain, “On strike – shut it down!”  Students in classes and residences were urged to walk out and join the march. Small groups of strikers dashed through other buildings shouting about the action. At Bessey Hall marchers pulled fire alarms, and many students left the building. And by time the masses of students had assembled at the Administration Building, they were 4,000 strong. They had gathered to speak with President Wharton.

When Wharton made his appearance, he read a statement in which he stated he was “firmly convinced that the new expansion of the war is a serious error and miscalculation.” This drew widespread applause from the students. He went on, asking strikers to avoid violence, and he praised the 37,000-plus students who “conducted themselves with common sense and restraint, by taking no part in the wanton acts of the few.”

Wharton’s words didn’t sit well with many of those congregating outside the administration, especially his recommendation of a petition drive. One African-American striker brought cheers when he got up and labeled Wharton’s speech “a Mickey- Mouse statement . . . about working within the system.” And referring to the numbers of students Wharton claimed were taking no part in the strike, he declared, “We have to move the majority of those 37,000 ‘niggers’ out of their classes.”

There was some discussion and debate over which issues to center the strike on. There were also divisions over what had happened Friday night last week – May 1. One speaker received applause when he said, “I don’t think anyone who broke windows Friday night accomplished anything.” Yet other people in the crowd were receptive to pleas “to take the kid gloves off.” There were several proposals to march to downtown East Lansing but they were rejected.   The large crowd soon broke up into small contingents to circulate in the residence halls for more support for the strike.

That evening the student government held an emergency meeting, and voted unanimously to support the student strike, adding the death of four students at Kent State University brought the ROTC issue “closer to home”. The full list of demands included that the campus suspend formal classes, releasing all staff with full compensation until US troops were withdrawn from Cambodia; that all academic recognition of ROTC be terminated; that no person with loaded firearms be allowed on campus; and that no penalties would be given to striking students, faculty or residence hall advisers – and no rewards be given to non-strikers. Lastly, the board voted to grant the Student Mobilization Committee $200 and use of campus facilities to continue their antiwar work.

That night, however, most students were in the auditorium, where up to 7,000 people debated and voted on strike-related issues for six hours. During the discussions, Black students persuaded the huge crowd to add “free Bobby Seale” and “increase minority enrollment” to their demands. On Tuesday most classes had proceeded normally throughout the morning, but attendance collapsed in the afternoon. For instance, the Anthropology Department had suspended classes indefinitely. One report had 12,000 students on strike that Tuesday.


Wayne State University in Detroit

A crowd of 1500 students collected at a university sanctioned rally on Tuesday, where student protest leaders successfully urged students to join in a strike over the week, which would culminate Friday May 8 with a mass march to the Federal Building in downtown Detroit. During the rally, University President William Keast addressed the crowd and made a major announcement: Classes would be suspended Wednesday, May 6 and Thursday, May 7 in mourning for the Kent students.

President Keast told the crowd:

“There must be an end to violence on American campuses. But our national leaders must see that violence in our campuses is the response of frustration and despair to the continuation of violence as a principle of American policy.

“There must be renewed respect for orderly constitutional processes. But our leaders must see that the respect has been eroded by the repeated spectacle of disregard for those processes in the making of fateful decisions on national policy.”

Keast called the United States move into Cambodia “the newest escalation of folly, which . . . threatens to make war a permanent feature of American life.” Once the rally had concluded, 200 militants moved to the engineering school building, rushed in and took it over, closing the school. A handful of demonstrators overturned furniture and equipment in one of the offices, but files were undisturbed and actual damage was slight.

Across the campus, it turned out that day many were in favor of the strike, 90 % of the classes at the 35,000-student campus were cancelled by faculty members or by protesters entering classrooms and urging students to walk out. The strike committee itself was using the university’s facilities, its phones, office space, printing presses and student radio station to further the goals and work of the national strike, and coordinate with other colleges and high schools in the Detroit area.

Central Michigan University – Mount Pleasant

There were two anti-war actions at Central Michigan University on Tuesday. The more militant action was a sit-in at the school’s ROTC building by 150 to 200 students, who stayed the night. CMU President William Boyd said he did not plan to break it up, and scheduled a meeting with the protest leaders for the next day. The student government called for an indefinite strike.

That same day, a rather unique type of antiwar protest took place. Fifty CMU students staged a marathon run to the State Capitol as a protest of increased US involvement in Indochina. After the 60-mile run, the students told reporters and officials they wanted to show the rest of Michigan and the country that CMU students were opposed to Nixon’s expansion of the war.

They wanted to present a petition to Gov. Milliken, requesting the governor to “act to procure the impeachment of President Nixon,” but had to settle for his legal advisor, Joseph Thibideau.  One of the runners said: “We could burn down a ROTC building just like everyone else but we don’t want to. If we bring these petitions here, then they will get to the right people who can do something.” Thibideau explained only Congress had the power to impeach a president, but he assured them, he would send the petitions to Congressional Rep. Elford A. Cederberg, from Mount Pleasant.

Before the run, students had consulted with State Police about their route. During the run, they had been stopped by state police in St. Johns, but were “very helpful,” one runner said. The marathoners were addressed by at least one state representative. State Rep. Russell Strange, R-Mt. Pleasant told them the Michigan Legislature could adopt a resolution against the war in Indochina, but he said he doubted such an action would occur. “It’s questionable that the state House would want to concern itself with foreign policy,” Strange said. “When we do, the citizens of Michigan complain that we haven’t even solved Michigan problems yet.”

Also that day, the day after Kent State, one of Michigan’s state senators made a stand. Sen. Coleman Young, D-Detroit, announced he plans to introduce legislation that would control the weaponry and tactics of law enforcement agencies in Michigan. Young said, “The deaths of the Kent State University students shocked the world. Something drastic must be done to control the National Guard and other law enforcement agencies to protect the citizens of Michigan, and especially, its students.”

Northern Illinois Univ. – DeKalb

Around noon on Tuesday, a large group of anti-war students surrounded the flagpoles at University Center and raised to  half-mast their own black banner with hand-painted words of “Kent State – in honor of the Kent State Four. “This is our memorial!” one speaker, a student senator, yelled out at the crowd of several hundred students, who had come from the official memorial. Many had been dissatisfied at the administration memorial and felt fired up. The speaker urged the crowd to march to the administration building, Lowden Hall, to “do your thing.”

When the crowd, now about 400 to 500, reached Lowden’s porch, they found the doors were locked. An open window was discovered, and a student broke through its and unlocked the main doors. About 100 protesters flowed in, marching through the hallways, breaking over a dozen windows, and setting fire extinguishers off. Another Kent State flag was raised at a second-floor window, all the while the students searched in vain for a university official. Director of security, James Elliott, called for state and county police as soon as the students had left the building.

The crowd then left Lowden and marched through Altgeld Hall. Rocks were thrown through the windows of various campus buildings, including Altgeld Hall, Lowden, the University Center and at least one dorm. As the throng moved onto Williston Hall, which housed the ROTC offices, they chanted “ROTC off campus!” There was reportedly a brief scuffle between demonstrators and student government reps and ROTC men when the protesters pushed open the building doors.

Once the demonstrators had gained access to the building, the army men did not intervene when minor acts of vandalism were committed by the protesters. A small amount of damage was inflicted on some of the ROTC offices and dumped files and bookcases. “Off ROTC” was written on walls in red paint. Later, one army staff sergeant commented to the campus newspaper, “destruction costs the students. They’re the ones who pay the taxes.” He added, “If they did stuff like this, I see why they (the National Guard) are shooting and killing.” When protesters destroy property, he said, “they have to take a little bloodshed.” Lt Col. Raymond Huntington said he thought the pro­perty destruction was “rather asinine.” He said, “I have no idea what their purpose was, but from listening to the radio lately, I guess the destruction might be connected with any­thing.” One young woman protester said, “It’s no longer Kent State,” implying other issues such as Vietnam, Cambodia, ROTC and Police Science.

By 3 p.m. the campus was quiet. No arrests or injuries were reported up to then. Yet, it was but the quiet before the proverbial storm. Very late in the day, the Student Association’s legislative body met and took on a number of controversial issues. A motion to shut down the university for 3 days beginning May 6 was overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 36 to 4. Next, there was a motion to abolish ROTC on campus. One student senator said, “the university should not house a socially criminal organization which the Army has become.” The motion passed – but then was vetoed by the student president, Pat McAtee. This action created a lot of animosity and some in the audience chanted, “Impeach McAtee!”.

A motion that did pass unanimously, was to fly all campus flags at half-mast until the end of the school term in memory of “our seven brothers and sisters” killed at Kent State. (There was still mis-information at some campuses as to the actual number of deaths.) Once the flags at half-mast motion passed, the meeting broke up, people poured out of the building and the march into DeKalb began to the chant of “avenge Kent!”

At some point, after the sun had set, a  mass of students, 500 strong, swept through the downtown area of the neighboring town of DeKalb and along businesses on Lincoln Highway When they were done, and after the police counter-swept was done, nearly a dozen businesses had their windows broken, including those of the First National Bank of DeKalb.

A little after midnight, police had taken the initial reports of damages of the local merchants. The executive vice president of the DeKalb Cham­ber of Commerce said, “We have nothing against the students, but we do not know why they picked on us. These damages come under the heading of riot so there will be no insurance protection. We have had several students offer to help us clean up.” Businesses or storefronts damaged included the Egyptian Theatre, a furniture store, a pharmacy, a stationary store, the Democratic Headquarters, the University Shop, a coffee shop, a Pontiac car sales, the Village Commons Bookstore, a music store, a stop sign and a telephone booth.

By the end of the evening, thirty-four NIU students and 3 non-students had been arrested by all levels of police – from campus, DeKalb and state. Of the students, 31 were charged with disorderly conduct, two with curfew viola­tions and one with criminal damage to property. All but one were released the next day when students posted bail for them after doing a fund raising drive out of the student government office. $3,000 had been raised money for them.

Illinois State University – Normal

Getting the campus flag to fly at half-mast in honor of the Kent State four at some colleges was a major struggle. An incident that grew into the controversy began around 1:15 pm, Tuesday, when about ten students began sitting around the flagpole. A half hour later, the crowd had grown to 300 people. Less than an hour later, a fist fight broke out between students protecting the half-mast flag and pro-war students. The flag continued to fly at half-mast.

Fired up, 100 protesters then marched into the student union building where US Marine recruiters had set up a table. The students demanded the recruiters leave and students then proceeded to sit-in for about a half hour. Up to 50 students marched to University president Samuel Braden’s office and occupied it until his return. They then demanded that the flag be lowered to half-mast in memory of the Kent students and those killed in Cambodia. Braden told them that only the governor had the authority to lower the flag. He did call Gov. Richard Ogilvie’s office and spoke to his aide, John Daly. Daly informed Braden that he had the authority. Braden then signed an order lowering the flag to half-mast the rest of the week.

Northwestern University – Evanston

4,000 students assembled for a protest memorial service for the Kent State students murdered the day before. Four symbolic coffins were buried and many of them marched on the administration building. A good-sized group continued over to Sheridan Road, a busy north-south street that cut right through the campus, and began building a barricade – which forced motorists into a detour and disrupted traffic in Evanston. Some students used picks to break up the top two-inch layer of Sheridan Rd. blacktopping near the main barricade.

Other striking students moved out into the community to canvas for support of anti-war Congressional legislation. Advised by student leaders to look “straight”, some of the men actually cut their hair and many donned more conservative looking garb.

Around dusk, an immense crowd of students and others of the campus community – estimated at between 3000 and 5000 – rallied on Deering Meadow as part of the continuing protests against the Cambodian invasion and the Kent State killings. Speakers addressed the crowd, cajoling them to maintain their spirit and protest energy, and urged them to take action. However, the crowd was so large – covering two-thirds of the meadow – many in the back and sides strained to hear the speakers.

Student body leader, Eva Jefferson, praised the crowd for turning out. “But,” she said, “I implore all you middle class whites to do something.” In addition, four students from Kent State spoke and de­scribed the events surrounding the death of their schoolmates. They were met with thunderous applause and shouts of “right on!” and “strike now!” The more memorable Kent speaker, Steve Rosenberg, shouted to the throng, “The pigs were sent to kill. Many people have died in Vietnam, but it’s some­thing else again to see your friends bleed­ing at your feet.”  The rally continued for almost two hours as the crowd approved a student strike until at least that Friday and hashed out a series of demands and actions for the strike.

Yet at the end of the peaceful rally, there was indecision among its organizers. Finally, Jefferson persuaded most of the crowd to peacefully march on Rebecca Crown, the main administration center. 2000 people then marched waving protest signs and red flags, dodging traffic as the line snaked down Sheridan to the Rebecca Crown plaza, a couple of blocks west.

Around that same time, some protesters had moved north the short distance from Deering Meadow to the old Lunt Hall – where the Naval ROTC was housed. A few windows were taken out and student marshals reportedly scuffled with protesters who were carrying torches. Eva Jefferson showed up and urged the crowd, “Go home. You’re not doing anybody any good standing here.” With that, people dispersed.

At the special meeting that evening of the University Senate, Chancellor J. Roscoe Miller made an important announcement: “All formal, scheduled classes of the University will be suspended for the balance of this week.” In the early hours a blaze was discovered by campus security at the NU Traffic Institute. Smoke was seen 4:12 am, but before the fire could be put out, the building was essentially gutted, causing up to $150,000 in damage. The building housed the ad­ministrative, engineering, motor vehicle registration, publications and research sec­tions of the nationally-known institute.

Earlier that day, 1200 high school students walked out of Evanston Township HS, after an officially-sanctioned assembly in protest of Cambodia and Kent State had been held. Chanting “high schools on strike!”, “peace now!” and carrying antiwar signs, they walked down Davis Street and turned north on Sherman Avenue. Student marshals kept the students on the sidewalks and assisted police in stopping traffic at intersections. The line of young marchers stretched two blocks. Reactions from onlookers was mixed; some applauded them while others shook their heads in disgust. Reaching the plaza at Rebecca Crown, the high schoolers were addressed by several speakers, where one speaker urged them to remain on strike until Friday – and they cheered. They then moved to Sheridan Road and up to the afternoon rally at Deering Meadows.

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

Students at Southern Illinois University on the Edwardsville campus began their strike in the morning with a traffic slow-down and leafletting at every entrance to the campus. Intentionally “stalled” vehicles forced traffic coming onto the campus to slow down so strikers could pass out their literature. Other strikers carried signs urging students and faculty not to attend classes in observance of the strike, while others passed out black arm bands.

Laud Humphreys, a faculty member of the Sociology Department told students at a rally, “All of us standing together have not been able to inform the administration of their folly,” adding “The next thing coming up is a race war.” He pressed on; “We are moving to a fascist state, with the greedy businessmen and the pig policemen controlling it.” Humphreys added, “The real issue is what kind of commitment we are going to make on a long-term basis.” He then urged everyone to get out and be active in the community, “clear the campus – students, faculty and cars,” he entreated, “go to the Chancellor’s office, go to the courthouse, write your senator…” It was about 2:30 when the crowd broke up.

Then Humphreys and between 100 and 200 students and some faculty marched to the Edwardsville courthouse. From there, they moved to the Post Office building which housed the local draft board offices – Madison County Selective Service Office. When the crowd had walked into the offices, each of the five secretaries inside told the students they were against the war and each were applauded. A photo of President Nixon starred out from a wall and someone grabbed it and threw it on the floor, where people smashed it with their feet. Outside, the Post Office flag was itself lowered to half-mast.

Later that day at a protest concert and rally, Humphreys again was in center stage as he took the floor and commented it was difficult to play for an angry and upset audience. “A lot of blood is flowing,” he said, “in Cambodia as well as Vietnam. It’s also flowing,” he continued, “on campuses of our universities.”

Humphreys pressed on in his righteous rant: “Four students were shot down in cold blood but it’s not the first-time blood’s flown.” He paused. “Whites don’t like to remember it. Panther blood, blood of students …” Then he cried, “it’s a time of revolution in America – -change or die!” People were applauding him. “We’re dying now in our own pollution, dying in our own dirty streams.” He continued with the clapping growing more intense, “We’re tired of Spiro Agnew. We’re tired of the lies of Richard Nixon. We’re tired of a government that doesn’t hear its youth. They listen to people with money -the green -the ones who buy stocks and automobiles.” He began rapping up. “It’s a time to begin a new world led by youth that says let us live. There is a reign of napalm and bullets and conflicting ideologies. A rain of tears for a nation so great but not making it,” he said.

A few other people spoke. A student senior, Maureen Halpin, talked about her visit to Kent State on the day of the murders. Her spiel was intensely listened to by the crowd and generated a round of questions and answers. This was the day after the Kent State shootings and there was a lot of misinformation flowing around in the media, such as one report of snipers on campus – which was later absolutely proven false. One student asked why the National Guard had been called to Kent State. Humphreys made the response. They had been called in by Ohio Governor James Rhodes. “There is a primary election taking place,” he explained. “The state is uptight about the election. The ROTC building was burned down,” he said. “Students gathered and the governor panicked.” He added, “When people are throwing tear gas that’s enough provocation to pick up a rock and throw it.”

A student asked, “Were there any firearms among the students at Kent?” Halpin responded by saying there were no guns – or clubs – among the students. “All the guns were on the other side. I was there and asked among the graduate students and teachers,” she said. Humphreys jumped in, and reiterated, “The guns were carried by the National Guard — Maureen was on campus and talked to the people – there were no guns among the students.”

Humphreys continued, “People don’t realize how serious students take these things (flying flags at  half-mast for the Kent students). Guys are spilling blood in Cambodia.” He spoke about how many of those sent to Vietnam were Black, by leaders who are white men. “Who are the generals and the senators? White men!” he yelled to applause. “They sit on their asses and send black men out to shoot yellow men,” he said to more applause. “The whites have shot at the red men, then they shot the green men – the Irish. There were riots in Brooklyn, then they got green power. Then it was the Italians – the Mafia.” Humphreys concluded, “It’s racism. The war in Asia is a racist illegal war. The whites are controlling and sending them all over there.”

An African-American student called out that this was not a white or black question. “We’re asking for human rights,” he said. “We’re concerned with whites as well as blacks. We’re brothers and sisters.” He shouted, “Human rights! Forget about black and white.” The audience applauded this.

University of Illinois – Urbana and Champaign

Ostensibly to honor the deaths of the Kent State Four, UIUC Chancellor Peltason cancelled all classes and closed the University for three days and was more likely hoping the shutdown would provide a cooling-off period. At 9 pm in the evening of Tuesday, literally thousands of students gathered at the University Auditorium of the University of Illinois – Urbana and Champaign campus, which had been called by the campus Radical Union. The audience – a large crowd of at least 2,000 (out of a total enrollment of over 30,000 –  passed a number of resolutions, including cancellation of the Illiac IV super-computer, and setting up “liberation classes” in the Quad, demands included the termination of U.S. involvement in Cambodia, freedom of all political prisoners, the termination of the repression of Black Panthers, Nixon’s impeachment, and an end to university complicity with the military.

Other groups had endorsed the strike including the Graduate Student Association (GSA), the American Association of University Professors and the Black Coalition. As the meeting was wrapping up, a student rose, obviously frustrated with just talk, and spoke to the gathering. Up and down the state, college students were reacting to Nixon’s war expansion and the killings at Kent State – and many were erupting in militant protests. “They’re doing things at every other campus in this country,” the student exclaimed, “We’re the only ones who are sitting around at a meeting.”

This ignited a round of debate on the use of militant tactics – which resulted in an impromptu march of up to 2,000 students around campus to drum up support for the strike. The crowd trekked to various dormitories, notified residents of the strike, and shouted encouragement to join both the evening’s march and the next day’s strike. As they made their roundabout way through campus, some broke windows at Chancellor Peltason’s office and at the Administration Building, and then as they wound their tour past an ever-favorite target, the Armory, caused some damage there. Finally the crowd wove through Campustown and vandalized a few businesses. There was a report that the Chemistry building was firebombed and that thousands of dollars of damage had been caused. There was at least one arrest.

University of Chicago

On Tuesday, more than half of the 8,000-member student body at the University of Chicago went on strike in protest of the American military action in Cambodia and the deaths of the four Kent State students. At a mass meeting that night, students decided to extend the student strike until at least that Friday, May 8. Once the meeting had concluded, roughly 500 protesters marched to the nearby National Guard armory, where there was an effort to lower the flag to half-mast. But ten policemen guarding the flagpole prevented its lowering. Later, the National Guard’s 178th infantry commander, order the flag to be lowered so as “to preserve the peace.”

During the day, University President Edward Levi issued a statement that called the Viet Nam war “a tragic mistake” and the Cambodian invasion was “puzzling and contradictory.” As the week unfolded, the graduate schools of law, medicine, social services, and business participated in brief strikes for the week ending on Monday, May 11.


University of Wisconsin in Madison

The cover of the campus newspaper, The Daily Cardinal, for Tuesday May 5 had a large American flag with the text of the day’s editorial superimposed on it, titled, “Survival.” It called for a student strike, and citing the deaths and wounded at Kent State the day before, it stated non-rhetorically, “How many more deaths will occur in this country over the next few days is an open question.” Calling the stakes very high, the article continued,

“We are no longer pro­testing a single war but an attack on both the Southeast Asian people and the people of the United States as well. The issues have been reduced to one common denomi­nator for all people across the country: survival. The only question facing us now is how best to wage this crucial fight against a government gone insane.” Calling Nixon’s response to the public reaction to his Cambodian expansion as “a police state manner,” and “rapidly taking fascistic proportions.”

“If there ever was a time for students to move — to overcome their sense of impotence and unite in a common struggle – it is now,” it stated. It was almost too late, it said, to wage struggle in opposition to the government because it meant “putting one’s life on the line.” Continuing, it stated, “Each of us is involved not only in the human machines of war, such as the draft, but in an institution which is essential to- waging such wars. We must Strike and strike hard – into the community and on our campus to turn the tide now raging so viciously against us.”

Tuesday morning strike activities included the disruption of several classes and the formation of two large groups of strikers that blocked traffic and set up militant picket lines at Social Science, and other buildings. Unofficially, class attendance was estimated to be at 50 per cent. There were also some scattered skir­mishes between strikers and police, with some people arrested.

Around mid-day, the head of the campus Protection and Secur­ity Ralph Hanson claimed, “things weren’t too bad,” and offered that so far the strike had only one official classroom disruption re­ported. Hanson said, “I don’t think there is too much support for this thing. They are not going to get many people to stay out of classes for these four demands.”

At the 1 pm afternoon rally on the campus plaza attended by roughly 1,000 students, there was a call for new tactics. One speaker exclaimed, “This morning was fucked up. People have got to get to­gether in tight groups — that’s the only way not to get ripped off.” Someone proposed “non­obstructive educational picketing” but it was quickly rejected by the restless crowd. Another speaker warned the crowd “we didn’t come out here for a picnic.” African-American students voiced their support for the strike, if they said, “we’re out there for real; we ain’t for no bullshit.”

“This is the time,” another striker told the crowd, “for serious organization. There is no time for flower games. This is no time for non-obstruc­tive picketing.” Referring to the police on campus, he said, “Them cops ain’t throwing bubble gum. We’ve got to get it to­gether. The only way is not to picket but to deal with them on a visible level. Retaliation is what we’ve got to have.”

After the rally had concluded, a large crowd of upwards of 3,000 people began marching – at first to the Nuclear Re­search building on Breese Ter­race – and then on to the county Selective Service office in downtown Madison on Monroe Street. Details on how it started are murky, but at some point, a furious pitched battle broke out between demonstrators and police. Students pelted police lines with barrages of rocks and police responded with fusillades of tear gas. Due to rapidly shifting winds, the tear gas was ineffective, and it took lines of charging police wielding clubs to disperse the students at that site.

Another clash erupted when protesters on Bascom Hill stoned police who had assembled on Park Street. The hill was cleared after massive volumes of tear gas, only to be taken again by protesters once the gas had dissipated. More rock and tear gas exchanges occurred near the Memorial Union and on the Library mall. The Union was so heavily saturated with tear gas, especially the first floor, that other students and non-protesters were trapped on the second with no exit for more than a half hour – including a young couple with a choking infant. Witnesses said police fired tear gas directly into the building through a window near the ticket office, while blocking all exits.

Around 2 pm, Chancellor Edwin Young held a news conference in which he declared there was an “immediate danger on the Madison campus,” and that the campus was off limits to all but members of the University community, and of course, police and news reporters. This meant that anyone on campus had to show their ID upon request by law enforcement, and if they couldn’t they’d be subject to arrest.

Young also stated he agreed with the Governor’s decision to call out the National Guard, adding, “I have a great deal of respect for the intelligence of the Guard. Many people feel sa­fer with the Guard on campus.” He uttered this less than a full 24 hours after the Guard had murdered students in Ohio. With the Guard on campus, Young continued, police wouldn’t feel so outnumbered when they’re surrounded by a mob; this was a policy of “firmness through strength,” he said.. By that evening 1,000 Guardsmen had occupied the campus.

Another rally was held at 7:30 pm on Library Mall attended by thousands – a University official estimated had it at 10,000 – to protest the President’s deploy­ment of troops in Cambodia and to hear a “people’s petition” against the Kent deaths.. After which a large mass of protesters of 3,000 marched on the ROTC training offices at the corner of Linden and Babcock Streets. Police tear gas drove them off, and they regrouped at Library Mall and Park Street. It was on Park Street in front of the Humanities Building that the National Guard made their first appearance and were also reported to be stationed at all military-connected facilities on campus.

Then National Guard troops moved and surrounded several buildings on campus, including some dormitories. They have been met continuously with rocks, fire-bombs, and the Guard’s own gas grenades. Some Wisconsin students have been seen attacking police and troops with their fists.

Intense clashes between students and police blew up at the corner of State and Park as well on University Avenue near Barnard Hall. Passing police patrol cars on University Avenue were showered with rocks, causing some extensive damage. Students built barricades at the intersection of Park and Langdon, and then set it aflame before police cleared the area. Battles raged at in the Library Mall and Park Street up till 11 pm.

Reports of those arrested and those injured in the battles on Tuesday were mixed. Between 28 and more than 40 persons were detained, and many were injured on both sides. One report had several hundred students injured with scores filling the campus hospital and the city hospital in Madison. Most of the injuries were the result of clublings, exploding gas grenades, and tear gas inhalation. Another report only had this: University Hospital reported eight students had been treated for teargas and minor lacerations; Mad­ison General Hospital reported ten police officers were treated.

Eight buildings were firebombed as of midnight that night. The Divine Towers office building, known as “the worst landlord in Madison;” the Law Library; the Education and Communications buildings; the Navy ROTC on University Avenue, an apartment building; a lumber company. That evening 1,000 National Guardsmen occupied the campus, and a citywide ban was placed on gasoline and other flammable liquids.

While pitched battles between student protesters and police were going on and as the city of Madison had turned into an armed camp with the arrival of the National Guard, the Madison city council calmly held its meeting dealing with routine business. Not until three hours into the meeting, did any mention of what was going down on the streets come up.

Guardsmen were stationed outside the building where the council was meeting while city police officers guarded the building from inside. Anyone entering the building – which also housed the jail – had to sign in and out. Three city council members, called aldermen, introduced a resolution proposing an immediate end to the Southeast Asian war. They included Eugene Parks, Dennis McGilligan and Paul Soglin. Soglin would go on to become a three-time mayor of Madison, and as a Democrat, run for President in 2016 and for the Governor of Wisconsin in the 2018 primary. A public hearing on the proposal was set for the next week.

Part of the minority on the council, at one point Soglin – from the 8th Ward –  took the more conservative members to task for being members of the “Silent Majority” – one of Nixon’s terms for his supporters. “The Silent Majority is sitting right here in this room,” Soglin said. “You have a choice — and it’s a very unfortunate choice —between President Nixon and me.” He went on, “You guys are so scared of Gene, Dennis and myself, because whenever we open our mouths on any question we taint it. One of these days we’re going to come out for god, mother and country and then what are you going to do?” he asked sarcastically. A woman in the audience active in the peace movement, shouted at the council, “Your business is being carried on in the streets!” before she was gaveled down by the council meeting chair.

Mayor William D. Dyke addressed the council on the issue of a curfew, and announced no curfew would be set on the city that night. He claimed that an estimated crowd of 2,500 persons had been in­volved in that actions of the previous night and added that 800 lawmen were then presently on duty, a combination of Guardsmen, Dane County and city police. According to the mayor, an estimated 2,500 persons were in­volved in Tuesday night’s activit­ies. He said 800 lawmen were then presently on duty, a combination of Guardsmen, Dane County and city police.

Dyke had come from a meeting with Police Chief Wilbur Emery, Dane County Sheriff Vernon Leslie, Gov. War­ren Knowles and an officer of the National Guard. The mayor told the council that the meeting had de­cided that the nature of the mob would not have lent itself to a curfew. On the question of campus disorders, Dyke said, “There is no reason to believe they will cease,” adding that “The council probably faces a more grievous situation than any council in the history of this city.” He asked each alderman to leave word where they could be reach­ed if it became necessary to call an emergency council ses­sion.

Marquette University in Milwaukee

Students at Marquette University, a Roman Catholic college in Milwaukee, initiated a student strike in opposition to the war and the kill­ings of students at Kent State, which effectively closed the campus down, even though it  was officially open during the first week in May. Students called for a full boycott of all classes beginning Wednesday. This protest was the very first such protest in the history of the school. Mass fasting and daily prayer vigils were planned for the coming days. The School of Education and the Letters and Science Faculty voted to condemn the US war in Indochina. The LS faculty also approved a proposal to join the strike and to close acad­emic programs indefinitely.

Wisconsin State College – Oshkosh

Around 10 Tuesday morning about 1,000 students congregated around Algoma Road once again. They began marching up Algoma from Osceola and at some point near the ROTC building, they staged a sit-in in the street. A half hour later, two cars were intentionally “stalled” in the crosswalk between Dempsey Hall and Clow social science building. When police approached, they were started right up and driven away. The main crowd of demonstrators rose up off the street, moved to the sidewalks and moved south as police lines approached down to the Algoma-Osceola intersection.

The barricade reappeared across the street around 11:30. A quarter of an hour later, Police Capt. William Gonvo appeared with deputies, police and four county snowplows. Gonvo declared the congregation an unlawful assembly and ordered the students to disperse. He received only jeers. The student government vice-president, Mike Mullen, then pleaded with the crowd, which at this point had grown to 2,000 people, to either go to class or to their dorms.

Still not budging, the students’ defiance brought on the snowplows – and while carrying police officers – they scooped up the blockade material, scattering students off the street temporarily. A little after 12 noon, the re-assembled students were again ordered to disperse, this time by Lt. Edward Misch of the Winnebago County sheriff’s department and told they would be arrested for disorderly conduct. The sheriff lines moved on the protesters and many responded with a barrage of rocks, eggs and oranges – and yells of obscenities. And then the cat-and-mouse game began, with students scattering when the police advanced, only to return to the streets when the officers had moved on.

It was around 1 pm when some negotiations began between demonstrators, student government reps and police. For about an hour there was a period of quiet – up until around 2 pm when the rock throwing and cat-and-mouse games returned and there were more arrests. The afternoon clash only lasted for another half hour, at which time the demonstrators melted away. 20 had been arrested, including at least 7 freshmen. By 5:30 pm, students and police alike had departed from the area.

Clashes between students and police erupted again later that night when by 9:30 both sides had re-assembled at the scene. These lasted until roughly quarter of 11 pm when the fire department responded to a fire on Lincoln Street. By time the fire engines pulled up, flames were shooting out of the front of the vacant store. The blaze ended up spreading to a neighboring house and caused major damage to the attic and second floor. The first fire drew many of the demonstrators on Algoma – and police followed them. Seven students were displaced by the damaged house.

Again the fire department was called to campus to deal with a minor fire caused by a Molotov cocktail thrown at the university’s music annex. Out on the streets, by 2 am the student protesters had gradually made their way back to their dorm rooms – leaving one lone person sitting by a fire at the Algoma-Osceola intersection. A few minutes later, a fire unit pulled up and put it out.


St. Cloud State College (Now University)– St. Cloud Minn.

Protest activities broke out on Tuesday, especially because of students’ feelings about Kent State – which added to the general reaction to the expansion of a war that was promised to be ending – students just couldn’t sit still. The US flag was lowered to half mast, black armbands were passed out, planning meetings were held.

In the late morning, less than 1,000 students assembled on campus in front of Atwood Center. They were joined by several busloads of students from St. John’s and St. Benedict’s. After a brief rally, they marched around the campus to recruit students to join their ranks. Stopping momentarily in a parking lot, as SCS Student Senate President Paul Ridgeway addressed the crowd — then conservatively estimated at between four and five hundred – and welcomed the solidarity of students from St. John’s and St. Bene­dict’s.

And then they headed onto the streets of St. Cloud and wound their way towards the Federal Building. The mood of the crowd was festive, even buoy­ant, as they chanted their demands for peace. Stopping across the street from the Federal Building, many sat down in the street, while those with signs and banners formed a semi­circle around the group.

Father Howard Bryce of St. John’s Univer­sity, told the crowd, “Our move­ment will take more than one march — more than one talk. It’ll take week after week and month after month ….” Father John Howard echoed Bryce’s words: “You have to be ready to put your body on the line.” It was a good day for walking, he reiterated, as would be the next, and the next, and on until the demand for peace is met.”

A half-hearted suggestion to enter the Federal Building was rejected, even so police responded by quickly sta­tioning several men in front of the door and federal employees closed their windows. Finally, those assembled formed back up, and the procession continued to move past the Post Of­fice and as the procession passed the home of a local Catholic Bishop, marchers chanted, “What’s the church doing about the war?” over and over, until they learned the Bishop was out to lunch.

At this point, the marchers began heading back to the campus, but they were feeling frisky. A squad car was leading the marchers, and when it turned left, the protest parade went straight. This went on a few more times. When the demonstrators reached the corner of Division (Highway 23) and 4th, at least one hundred staged a spontaneous sit-down, blocking traffic across DeSoto Bridge. Frustrated, one organizer shouted, “What does sitting in St. Cloud in the middle of the street do for Cambodia?!”

The sit-in protesters chanted back “Remember Kent State! Remember Kent State!” and “They’re our brothers!” Most of those in the street picked themselves up and began moving on. Police were not satisfied, and when they moved in, they made one arrest of a student from St. John’s who refused an officer’s order. As the clearly outnumbered police attempted to move the student to a patrol car, dozens of students gave chase and immediately surrounded the two patrolmen. With the arrested man in a headlock by officers, the students locked arms and prevented the cops from taking him to the station.

The students were yelling, “What did he do?”, “Police brutality!” and “Let him go!” Just then, someone grabbed the gun of one of the officers hold­ing the arrestee and bolted. The officer turned on the crowd and demanded that the gun be returned. The patrolman yelled, “Who’s ever got any leadership quality in this thing get that gun back!” Some students shouted for a collec­tion among the crowd to buy the officer a new gun. Some chanted. “What’s a cop without his gun!”

A stand-off was broken when Police Chief Grams agreed to trade the gun for the student. A faculty member from St. Cloud, Jerry Luedders, called for quiet, and asked the crowd, “Does anybody have the gun? They’ve offered us a fair trade — him for the gun.” But no one came forward. Luedders told one of the commanding officers, “Look. I’m sure who­ever got the gun will not have stayed here. I don’t think you’re going to ac­complish anything this way — you’d better try another approach.”

Eventually, the student was released by police, although the gun was never returned. Chief Grams later remarked that no ar­rests were made because “when you’re not in control you can’t make arrests.” He felt the police depart­ment was not in control on Tuesday. “We were the ones who were ar­rested. It was very frightening.”

When the stream of student marchers returned to Atwood Center, many of them filed into the faculty meeting room as they met. When students asked what the faculty was going to do to support the strike, the chairman decided the meeting was being disrupted and adjourned it.

University of Kansas – Lawrence Kansas –

In the day after Kent State University, 500 Kansas University students marched in protest carrying mock coffins, and smashed out windows in the Military Science Building.


University of Iowa, Iowa City

The student body president and the editor of the campus newspaper jointly called for a boycott of classes the next day, Wednesday, May 6. Over in Iowa City, the City Council passed an ordinance granting the mayor the authority to issue a curfew “in times of emergency,” as the night before there had been a militant demonstration where windows at the Armory had been broken and there had been a spontaneous march on downtown. On Tuesday, after an anti-ROTC rally on campus about 300 protesters trekked over in the direction of the Armory, but this time they blocked traffic at two spots on Highway 218.

University of Oklahoma – Norman

A call for a student strike and to join the national strike brought out several hundred students at the University of Oklahoma on Tuesday,  – the day after Kent State. Whether coincidence or not, that same day in the afternoon a troop of campus ROTC cadets marched from the Armory to their drill field on Brooks Street to participate in ROTC graduation ceremonies. This display of militarism was too much for UO students. And about 500 began demonstrating in protest, heckling and verbally harassing the cadets.

At some point during the demonstration, a grad student unfurled what everyone assumed was a Viet Cong flag – one account has it actually a South Vietnamese flag – and campus police moved in and arrested him, and perhaps others as well. Oklahoma law prohibited the flying of pro-communist flags. The grad student was placed inside a patrol car. But then students swarmed the car, blocking the street so it couldn’t move. Campus police called for help and requested assistance from both the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Oklahoma City police.

Governor Dewey Barlett did dispatch the State Highway Patrol, and two busloads of city police and 35 Highway patrol officers arrived to assist campus police in controlling the demonstrators. What followed was an ugly clash between students and police. Several protesters were injured and three were arrested.

In response to the arrest of the flag-bearing student and the obvious overreaction by police, nearly 2,000 students gathered and marched in protest. Five hundred of them then moved into some campus buildings to occupy them, in protest of Kent State, Cambodia plus some demands on the administration..

University of Texas – Austin

The day after Kent State turned out to be the day of thousands of marchers meeting police in a cloud of teargas at the State Capitol. And UT students were right at the front of it. Tuesday, began with students carrying picket signs around campus and passing out fliers for the day’s events.

By noon, thousands of students and other members of the campus community gathered for a rally on the main mall in protest of US involvement in the war in Indochina and the trial of Black Panther leader Bobby Seale. The massive crowd – with its size ranging from 2,000, “several thousand”, to 8,000 – endorsed the strike demands hammered out the night before.

Once the rally was over, the students formed up into huge columns and began moving around the inner-campus drive, pass dormitories and class buildings. They had taken the streets, with students whooping and running, with many coming out of the dorms and joining in the throng as it moved north.

As the front of the march swept north, it converged onto “the Drag.” The “Drag” is a nickname for a portion of Guadalupe Street that runs north-south along the western edge of the University. It contains strips of shops that provide for UT students, such as bookstores, restaurants, and clothing stores. One participant of the march later said, by this time about 5000 people were militantly marching down the Drag. Student protesters had never left the campus in this manner before, but they knew they wanted to go to the State Capitol, roughly six blocks south of the edge of the campus.

When the multitude of marchers reached 19th Street (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.) about a dozen police officers blocked their way by standing in the road. The very front of the march headed straight for the police – but it was a diversion – and the mass of marchers veered off around a corner. This tactic was used again at 15th Street where a troop of 20 officers had lined up. When the crowd reached 11th Street, 30 to 50 armed police in riot gear and holding tear gas cannisters awaited them. The Capitol building was a block away. Anticipating tear gas, some students removed their shirts and wet them in the sprinklers on the Capitol lawn.

The more militant of the crowd surged right straight at the police line. Fights broke out between police and students; rocks, bottles, smoke bombs – even books – were thrown; police clubbed those closest to their positions. More rocks were hurled, windows were broken, two cars were lit on fire. Then the police began firing tear gas at the chanting demonstrators. As students retreated, some had to wash the tear gas chemicals out of their eyes and off their skin in the east mall fountain. There’s one report that police even shot off tear gas inside the Capitol, gassing state workers who understandably were very pissed off.

The students retreated back to campus; some had been blinded by the gas and had to be led back by others. 4 or 5 had been arrested and reports of those injured varied, from 4 cops and 2 students with minor injuries to 16 injured. Most news reports placed the totals of students “charging the Capitol” at 2,000.

Once back on campus, thousands rallied and began discussions on creating a student strike the next day and possibly another march on downtown Austin the upcoming Friday. Squads of students flew off to the dorms to discuss the war and Kent State and mobilize people for the strike.

New Mexico

On Tuesday in Santa Fe, the Spring National Republican Governors’ Conference scheduled for Thursday, May 7, had to be cancelled “because of conditions across the country.” Governors and elected officials from all 50 states were supposed to be in attendance, but only 12 governors showed up, as others were too busy managing the student protests in their states.

Montana State Uni­versity

The Student Senate at Montana State Uni­versity adopted a statement on Tuesday opposing U.S. military in­volvement in Southeast Asia.The statement said America’s policy of intervention to achieve peace had been counterproductive, had resulted in loss of many Amer­ican lives and had been costly to the American public. The senate also agreed to pay the cost of any telegrams students want to send to Congress or to President Nixon expressing their feelings on the war. Later in the day, a memorial service to honor the four students shot to death Mon­day at Ohio’s Kent State Univer­sity was held.

University of Denver

A 3-day student strike at the University of Denver was called for on Tuesday night, at a rally attended by about 2,000 of the university’s 9,000 students. The call for a three-day strike to protest the Vietnam war and to mourn the death of the Kent State 4 had vocal support from many quarters, including the DU Student Senate.

University of Utah – Salt Lake City

A decision to place picketers at doorways to campus buildings and to rally at the Marriott Lib­rary plaza the next day were hashed out Tuesday even­ing by about 250 protesters who gathered on the Union lawn Tues­day. “Of course we are a minority and we are a strong minority,” said a leader in the United Front to End the War. “Nothing could have been done at Harvard, Cornell or Kent if people waited around for a maj­ority. People at the University haven’t got the power to go to the pig department and demand the guns. We’ve got to bring the campus to its knees,” he continued. “. . Close it down—let them know we won’t allow cold-blooded murder here. Close the campus down a couple of days, weeks, who knows.”

Another student asked, “What are we going to do? Feel sorry for everybody or shut down the University and demon­strate we are not going to tolerate the cold-blooded shooting?” Another insisted on action, but said, “no National Guard, no ROTC, and no cops.” Yet someone else iterated, “Education is not in those classrooms” and added, “It’s in­teracting with people”.

Around 4 am, campus security reported that a homemade bomb had been thrown into the Army ROTC Bldg. A maximum $200 damage was done to the area. The bomb, a quart beer bottle with a paper wick and filled with diesel fuel, was thrown through an open window. It struck a blackboard and exploded. Liquid spilled from the bottle but did not ignite.

University of Idaho

The University of Idaho’s R.O.T.C. building was firebombed early Tuesday. A student was later arrested and charged with third-degree arson. Near the campus, 26 vehicles in a motor pool at Lewiston National Guard Armory were firebombed. Officers said it appeared gaso­line tanks in many destroyed trucks had been drained to provide instant fuel for the blaze. Fire Chief Leonard Ellis said gasoline had been “poured over the vehi­cles.” In Boise, Brig. Gen. James S. Brooks, assistant state adjutant general, said law enforcement agencies in the state were being asked to provide “increased sur­veillance” of National Guard prop­erty.

University of Nevada at Reno

A column of 500 anti-war pro­testors marched and chanted their way into the campus stadium where a Governor’s Day convo was being held, and the field was filled with ROTC cadets.  They continued marching around the track which circles the stadium. When the Governor’s cavalcade began to move, students rushed the lead car and massed in front of it, halting the procession. This went on for about 10 minutes until the students relented.

The protesters moved into the grandstands, still shouting anti-war slogans, attempting to disrupt the proceedings. Twice University President Edd miller pleaded for order but was ignored. As the awards presentation near­ed its end, the protestors moved out of the stands and onto the field, taking a position which interfered with the planned performance of the ROTC’s Sierra Guard drill unit. The unit avoided contact with the protestors by marching around them as the protestors shouted at the drill team and otherwise tried to distract it.

After the drill performance, the ROTC brigade began to form up to march in review in an end to Governor’s Day ceremonies. The protestors formed behind the rear cadet platoon and flashed peace signs rather than salutes as they passed in front of the re­viewing stand filled with brass and civilian dignitaries.

Students and professors at the University planned to have President Nixon tried for War Crimes by a campus convocation later in the month.

Eastern Washington State College – Cheney WA

Anti-war protesters disrupted ROTC classes and activated fire alarms on May 5. A demonstration in front of the ROTC building began with 150 afternoon protesters but shrank to seven in sleeping bags by that night.

Reaction to recent violence at Kent State University in Ohio sparked a move to takeover Eastern’s military science Cadet Hall with approximately 250 to 400 students converging on the ROTC building. A minor fire in the Fieldhouse, thought to be set by demonstrators, preceded the march on Cadet Hall; several fist fights broke out during the course of the confrontation. And one student was treated for cuts. Protesters attempted to lower the flag outside the building when scuffling occurred. When the ROTC commander appeared in front of the students, he remained calm despite receiving verbal abuse. When asked, however, about the Kent State violence, the colonel responded, “You did it, you asked for it.”

Two days later, three Eastern students were arrested on vagrancy charges arising out of the May 5 demonstration here.

Washington State Univesity – Pullman WA

Striking students handed demands to the WSU administration, “That the university adminis­tration send a telegram to Pres­ident Richard Nixon deploring the use of National Guard troops to quell disturbances on cam­puses ….That the university adminis­tration call off classes and all official school activities for one day to protest sending U.S. troops into Cambodia.”

After a noon rally on Tuesday on the mall, where three faculty members denounced the US Cambodia action and the use of National Guard troops at Kent State, about 700 students invaded an administration building to occupy it until their demands were met. At one point during the afternoon the crowd dwindled to about 300 but increased to 800 at 9 p.m. Sympathetic faculty wives pro­vided sandwiches, coffee and soft drinks during the afternoon. Also one student brought a stereo and played records. A rock band had agreed to play at 9 p.m. if the sit-in had extended beyond that time.

Western Washington State College – Bellingham

Western’s involvement in anti-war-in-Cambodia demonstrations started when the student government called for a strike of classes beginning on Tuesday. Nearly 2,000 students rallied on Red Square and approved the move.

About 500 of the students marched down Indian Street after the rally to block the four lanes of Interstate Five at the Lake way Drive underpass. The highway was effectively blocked by 4:15 p.m,, and cars backed up nearly a mile. Meanwhile, Bellingham Police and Whatcom County Sheriffs rerouted traffic through town motorists stranded on the freeway backtracked to the nearest exit. Protestors left the initial blocking point a few moments after 6 p.m. and marched down the freeway to where city, county and state law enforcement officers waited.

Motorists prevented from moving were asked their feelings about the action. About 25 were asked what they thought about Western students blocking the highway. A majority of the motorists approved. “Other than being delayed, I don’t mind it at all,” one driver said. “Nobody seems to be getting any attention by any other way.”

Another motorist said, “I agree with the motives, but I don’t feel that blocking this highway is the means to achieve your goals.” At least one motorist was against the demonstration. “In my opinion, you won’t solve a damn thing. When you get to be my age you will see what I mean. You all ought to be in Russia or someplace.”

A woman driver returning home from work said. “I kinda agree with you kids. 1 don’t think Nixon had any right sending troops into Cambodia.” Another woman said, “It is making those of us who are forced to wait on the highway feel the same frustration that you feel. It is the same frustration that we all have with our government. It is a very effective way to protest.”

“These kids have a point, but they ought to let someone else talk for a change—they’re not perfect,” one woman said. Another motorist sympathized with the demonstrators, “I can see your point, something’s gotta be done and it’s gotta be done pretty- fast.’’ At one point during the blockage, an ambulance was allowed to pass through the crowd.


May 5 or May 7, the day after the shootings at Kent State, California Governor Reagan ordered the closing of all colleges and University campuses until May 11.

In a blanket telephone statement released to the press, Governor Reagan ordered the closings as a precaution over threatened violence, as protests to the shootings spread throughout the country. Saying the culprits in the string of violent demonstrations weren’t students at all, but a carefully trained group of agitators, bent on destroying College life and throwing the country into chaos, and that it was in all likelihood that the students gunned down were innocent bystanders.

Asking for a four-day reflection on the roots and causes, and asking the majority of students to use the time to discuss the situation, Reagan appealed to students, parents and Administrators to end the violence.

The irony in all this was, only four days earlier, Reagan was quoted as saying the students engaged in these protests were “brats”, “freaks” and “cowardly fascists” and that he advocated “a bloodbath, if necessary” to quell the protests. After the events of May 4th, he quickly backtracked, saying he was using a “figure of speech” in dealing with the protests.

University of California at Davis

Two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the ROTC building at the University of California campus early Tuesday, causing minor damage. Students have been asking university officials to remove ROTC from the curriculum in protest of the war in Vietnam. They have also been protesting war research being done on campus.

San Fernando Valley State (later renamed … California State University, Northridge

Small and non-violent demonstrations occurred at San Fernando Valley State College, where 400 to 1000 students marched into the Administration Building demanding College President Dr. James Cleary close the school. The only destructive act reported was the taking down and burning of the U.S. flag outside the Administration Building, and the burning of 10-20 draft cards.

Sonoma State College

Two Sonoma State College students were taken to the hospital and fear of increased violence mounted at SSC today as faculty and students met in angry rallies to protest American foreign policy and the killing of 4 students by Nat. Guard at KSU in Ohio.  A band of some dozen students swept thru the Field House where registration for the fall term were being taken. They knocked over the tables and scattered registration cards all over. College officials later announced that registration of new student schedule for Thur and Fri had been postponed indefinitely. Many of the building were ordered locked and the field house was padlocked. One of the first buildings to be closed was the college library.


UCLA students made plans for an evening rally Thursday to protest the war whether or not a strike , is called.  Some 5,000 students blended their cries of “Peace! Peace!” with the throbbing music of Handel’s “Mes­siah” during an offbeat “Music for Peace” antiwar demonstra­tion. Many of the students made the “V” peace sign with their fingers as the overflow audience sat on UCLA’s main quad to hear the 350-voice, 120-piece univer­sity orchestra and choir perform excerpts from the oratorio.

Police arrested at least 30 young persons Tuesday in dispersing a crowd of about 2000 demonstrators near the Men’s Gym on the UCLA campus. About 150 uniformed officers made a sweep after three hours of window smashing, fist fights and small fires in the area around the gym. which houses the ROTC offices. The demonstrations were part of widespread protests against American involvement in Cambodia and the slayings of six students at Kent State in Ohio. Fourteen police divisions were placed on tactical alert as reports of window smashing and fistfights were received from the Men’s Gym. Administration Building, and Social Welfare Building.

A fire caused $5,000 worth of damage, destroying part of Murphy Hall. Classes were cancelled as the city declared UCLA to be in “a state of emergency.” Police arrested 74 students for failure to disperse and for police battery. A campus newspaper, The Daily Bruin, documented police officers’ indifference and oftentimes hostile attitude toward the protesters. “We’re watching the animals play,” a policeman said in reference to the protesters in the May 5, 1970 issue of The Bruin. “Yeah,” another added, “they don’t have a cage big enough.” Police, as noted in the May 5 issue, were also tired of telling the crowd to disperse. “From now on, (police) tell you once, move, and if you don’t, we arrest you, so get the hell out of here,” one cop was quoted as saying. “Nobody was hurt except one punk who resisted the whole time down so we had to rough him up a little,” added another policeman.

UC Berkeley

Classes for thousands of students were cancelled in a partially effective strike Tuesday [May 5?] at the University of California. Hundreds of antiwar demonstrators roamed the campus battling with police. A crowd of about 600 tried to burn down Callaghan Hall, the Navy ROTC building, but were dispersed with teargas.

Throughout May 5, sporadic violence erupted on the campus. After a noon rally which had attracted between 3,000-4,000 students, a group of 600 dissidents marched to the R.O.T.C. building. Wood was piled against the building and a blaze set off. Highway patrolmen extinguishing the fire were pelted with rocks and eggs. Later in the afternoon 500 wandering protesters cornered eight campus security guards near LeConte Hall. A dozen sheriff’s deputies rescued the officers who had retreated into the building, and the crowd was dispersed with tear gas.

At the same time, six Berkeley police raided the Berkeley Free Clinic, swinging clubs at both persons inside and equipment. Police claimed that a bottle had been thrown at them by someone standing on the Clinic’s porch. After tossing it, police said, he had taken refuge inside. Later, a R.O.T.C. panel truck was overturned and burned by demonstrating students who tore down the American and California flags, set them afire, and hoisted them to half mast chanting “Burn Nixon Burn.” At least 45 arrests were made during the day.



{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie May 5, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Dear reader: take your time in absorbing the details – it’s a lot – as no where else can you read about the depth of what came down 50 years ago exactly.


sealintheSelkirks May 5, 2020 at 6:19 pm

I repeat:

A cassette tape taking in the window of a dorm room overlooking the murder scene was recently run through computer program and cleaned up. The Officer in Charge ORDERED the guardsmen to fire.

It WAS premeditated murder because he had to have thought about it to order it.

Good history, Frank. Can you imagine this being taught and discussed in all schools to kids before the age of 13 so they get a good dose of what the political reality in country is? Unfortunately not in this universe because our ruling elite like our myths and lies and fabrications too much to let reality edge itself into the general consciousness of we the working class. Schools of enlightenment rather that schools of regimentation and authoritarianism in order to properly condition the young to obey. Big sigh.



Dennis Doyle May 5, 2020 at 6:52 pm

We will never forget!


Roderick T. Long May 6, 2020 at 11:07 am

It was certainly a great tragedy. But “the Most Violent Day Within the Country in American History” (as per the title), or even “one of the most violent days in American history” (as per the first paragraph)? Leaving aside all the lynchings and labour struggles, a number of actual wars have been fought on American soil. Gettysburg?


JerryT May 11, 2020 at 9:49 pm

You best come with much more than a syringe.


Carol Catanese June 4, 2020 at 6:54 am

Fairly in depth coeverage. Thanks!
But I wonder…I seem to remember college students being killed at two other (predominately black) universities that never seem to be recognized. I found this page trying to find that particular information but all records point to Kent State and no other. Jackson State seems to bubble up in my memory.
Any more information on this is truly appreciated. And given our current state of affairs, it is important to note this diminishing of the historical participation of the African American communities in the anti-war effort.


Carol Catanese June 4, 2020 at 7:35 am

Sorry, I left a previous comment about perhaps omitting some African American universities out of the picture. But I finally found the information about Jackson State and I succumbed to the memory that was predominant at the time, that the murders were the result of anti-war demonstrations. Clearly not that but surely White Spremacists in action, and legally!
A nation that built its fortunes on the backs of slaves finds it difficult to overcome this scourge, the lowest of human qualities.


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