The Kent State Shootings

May 4th, 1970. 

As noon approached on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio, an aggressive crowd that had been growing for the past couple of days now teetered above 1,500. While some individuals were merely spectators, the majority of the group was protesting the controversial invasion of Cambodia.

In the previous days, the Vietnam War had appeared to be drawing to a close, but an unprecedented invasion to a new country rippled through the media and generated fresh anger in young anti-war activists. The actions of the protesters included setting fire to the school’s Reserve Officers Training Corps building; slicing through canvas hoses of firefighters when they arrived to extinguish the flames, and fighting with police who tried to protect the firefighters. By the next day, the crowd had been deemed uncontrollable by local authorities and the Ohio National Guard was dispatched with a mission to reverse the hostilities. The National Guard’s military presence alone however, was like pouring salt on the wound in the eyes of the protesters.

Approximately seventy National Guardsmen with faces hidden behind gas masks advanced with orders to disperse, utilizing tear gas canisters that were consequently thrown back at them by the crowd. At one point during the confrontation the Guardsmen became somewhat trapped inside a practice football field adjacent to the school parking lot. Yelling and rock throwing reached a peak and some of the Guardsmen pointed weapons but no shots were fired. The Guard then retreated up a steep hill that students referred to as “blanket hill” and when atop it. Twenty-eight of the seventy Guardsmen fired their M-1 Garand rifles without warning. Some of the Guard fired into the air or ground, but many of the muzzles were aimed towards protesters. An averaged amount of 64 shots were fired within a 13 second window, leaving four Kent State students dead and nine wounded.   

About Hudson Saffell (36 Articles)
Freelance Writer / Editor

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