On May 1, 1970 Kent State students held an anti-war protest. This protest included throwing of rocks and bottles being thrown at police officers and bonfires. This led to bars being closed by authorities before normal closing time to try reduce alcohol consumption. Eventually students, other anti-war activists, and common criminals began to break windows and loot stores.
The mayor of Kent declared a state of emergency on May 2. He requested that Governor James A. Rhodes send the Ohio National Guard to Kent to keep the peace. Rhodes agreed, and the National Guard arrived that night. The soldiers arrived, and decided on tear gas to disperse the protesters.
By May 3, approximately one thousand National Guard soldiers were on the Kent State campus. On May 4, classes resumed at Kent State. Anti-war protesters scheduled a rally for noon at the campus. University officials tried to stop the gathering but were unsuccessful. As the protest began, National Guard members fired tear gas at the demonstrators. However, due to wind, the tear gas proved ineffective. Some of the protesters threw the canisters, even rocks, back at the soldiers. Twenty-eight guardsmen open fired on the crowd, the gunfire lasted just thirteen seconds, firing a total of sixty-seven shots, killing four students and wounding nine. Two of the students who died had not even participated in the protests.
These shootings helped convince the public that the anti-war protesters were not just hippies, and drug addicts. That they also included middle, upper-class, and educated people. Rather than causing a decline in protests, the Kent State Shootings actually escalated them. The various protests drew to an end as President Nixon began to withdraw soldiers from North and South Vietnam. With the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, the protests ended.
The picture was taken by John Filo, of Mary Ann Vecchio. Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, is kneeling over the body of Jeffrey Miller just minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard. John Filo later won a Pulitzer Prize for this photo the same year.
|The four Kent State Students that were killed.|