Kent State 50 Years Later

Yesterday, May 4th marked the 50th anniversary of the notorious and tragic Kent State massacre.

On April 30th, 1970, President Richard Nixon, after weeks of denials, finally announced the truth, that American forces had invaded neutral Cambodia, sparking furious student protests across the nation.

Students at fairly conservative Kent State University began protesting peacefully on May 1st, but later that night, young people frequenting the bars around campus began disrupting traffic and smashing store windows which led to a police crackdown.

Tensions grew the next day and that night, the ROTC building was burned. Police and National Guardsmen drove students into their dorms. Tensions further escalated on May 3rd with armed National Guard troops occupying the campus and Ohio governor James Rhodes declaring that the students were "worse than the Brown Shirt and communist elements". That evening, students gathered to protest the Guard's presence on campus. The rally was broken up by tear gas.

Despite the continued presence of armed Guardsmen throughout the campus, about 2,000 students gathered for a previously scheduled rally at noon on May 4th, whereupon their numbers grew when nearby classes ended. Although ordered to disperse and later tear gassed, most students, believing their campus had been invaded, remained.

With fixed bayonets and loaded rifles, the Guard advanced on the students, while launching more tear gas. Many students retreated and a standoff resulted with about 100 yards separating the two factions. Guardsmen launched another barrage of tear gas canisters and the students peppered the Guard with abusive language, with some throwing rocks as well.

At approximately 12:30 pm, a line of Guardsmen suddenly turned to face the students, dropped to their knees and opened fire. In the ensuing 13 seconds, nearly 70 shots were fired, leaving four students dead, of which only two were actually protesting, and nine wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. Most of those hit were over 100 yards away from the firing line.

News reports and John Filo's iconic photos brought the news to a stunned nation. The Nixon White House issued a statement blaming the students, claiming... "When dissent turns to violence, it invites tragedy", and VP Spiro Agnew denounced the "psychotic and criminal elements in our society".

Well over 1000 campuses exploded in protest over the ensuing days, leading to 536 colleges shutting down for a week or more ...... 51 of them closed for the remainder of the spring semester.

Many regular Americans echoed the rhetoric of Agnew and Governor Rhodes. The local paper in Kent, Ohio printed full pages of "letters to the editor", which voiced sentiments like...
"Live Ammunition!...Well really, what did they expect, spitballs?"
"Hooray! I shout for God and Country!....America, support it, or leave it."
"It would have been better for America if every student on that hill had been killed."

After its thorough investigation of the massacre, the President's Commission on Campus Unrest determined that regardless of the "intolerable" acts of student violence, the "indiscriminate firing of rifles into a crowd of students and the deaths that followed were unnecessary, unwarranted and inexcusable"...…… (let's all say it together..... "NO SHIT, SHERLOCK").

Despite that conclusion, nobody was ever prosecuted for the four murders and malicious wounding of nine others.

Oh, and Neil Young wrote a song about the tragedy...… (second video below).


By: wankmycrank (7015.30)

Location: Kent State University, Kent, Ohio