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The Kent State Massacre occurred at Kent State University, in the city of Kent, Ohio, USA, on 4 May 1970, when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed college students. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a 13-second period. Four students were killed. Nine were wounded, and one of these suffered permanent paralysis.

 

Historical Background of the Kent State Massacre

 

Richard Nixon had been elected President in 1968, on a campaign promise to end the Vietnam War. The My Lai Massacre was exposed in November 1969, which increased public opposition to the war; in December 1969, the first draft lottery was insituted since World War II. The new invasion of Cambodia angered many, and young people became concerned about being drafted to fight in a war they opposed.

 

Timeline of the Massacre

 

On 30 April 1970, President Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia by American forces.

 

On 1 May 1970, about 500 students gathered on the Commons of Kent State University in Ohio to demonstrate against the war. The crowd dispersed by 1 pm. Another rally was planned for 4 May.

 

Trouble began in the town around midnight that night, when when people leaving a bar began throwing beer bottles and breaking storefront windows downtown. When they broke a bank window, an alarm went off; by the time police arrived, a crowd of about 100 had arrived and joined in the vandalism and looting. It took police almost an hour to restore order.

 

On 2 May 1970, Mayor Leroy Satrom declared a state of emergency, and asked Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes to send in the National Guard.

 

The National Guard arrived at about 10 pm. A large demonstration was under way on the campus of Kent State University. The campus Reserve Officer Training Corps building was in flames. More than a thousand protestors surrounded it. The National Guard began attempting to restore order.

 

Around 8:00 pm on 3 May 1970, another rally took place on the campus Commons. By 8:45 pm the National Guard had dispersed the crowd, and at 11:00 pm they announced a curfew.

 

On 4 May 1970, about 2,000 people gathered on the university’s Commons at noon. Companies A and C, 1/145th Infantry and Troop G of the 2/107th Armored Cavalry, Ohio ARNG attempted to disperse the students. When the crowd refused to disperse, a group of 77 National Guardsmen from A Company and Troop G began to advance on the crowd. As the guardsmen advanced, the protestors retreated up an over Blanket Hill, away from the Commons. The guardsmen followed.

 

At 12:22 pm, a number of guardsmen on the hill turned and fired their M1 Garand rifles at the students. 29 of the 77 guardsmen claimed to have fired their weapons, using a total of 67 bullets. The shooting lasted 13 seconds. Four were killed, and nine were wounded.

 

Aftermath

 

The matter of why shots were fired at Kent State University on 4 May 1970 remains under debate. The Adjutant General of the Ohio National Guard told reporters that a sniper had fired on the men. Guardsmen testified that they feared for their lives.

 

Eight of the guardmen were indicted by a grand jury. In 1974, U.S. District Judge Frank Battisti dismissed the charges against them. Trials held on the state and federal levels between the years of 1970 and 1979 ended in dismissals or acquittals. A civil suit resulted in students’ families receiving $63,000 per victim.

 

Photographs of the dead and wounded at Kent State, circulated by the media, increased anti-war sentiment throughout the U.S.

 

Weblinks

 

http://dept.kent.edu/sociology/lewis/lewihen.htm

 

http://www.may4.org/

 

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