April 30, 1970. President Nixon orders U.S. troops into Cambodia. Four Days and a shocking 13 second burst of gunfire brings the war comes home in Kent, Ohio. The 67 rounds fired kill 4 and wound 9 of the students. How does such an event occur?
It was the height of the Vietnam War. Americans were unsettled on why we were fighting and losing our youth in a country that we didn’t care about anyway. President Nixon was supposed to be drawing back and bringing home our troops. In early 1970, Nixon ordered air strikes of the VC operations(Cite airstrikes). These proved to be ineffective. Because of this, on April 30, 1970 Nixon announced a US ground incursion into Cambodia. This infuriated many Americans across the nation. Students at Kent State took this symbolically as Nixon murdering the US constitution. The next day at Kent State University, hundreds of students Rallied, and some performed a mock funeral of the US constitution. (cite1-1) The message was that sending troops into Cambodia without declaring war represents the murder of our US constitution. This would be the only rally that didn’t lead to violence.
Later Friday night, police respond to students in downtown Kent vandalizing storefront windows. Two student activist groups were believed to be in the area. The groups were known as Students for a Democratic Society (S.D.S.) and the Weathermen, a faction of SDS known to be more violent (NatGeo). The destructive activity led Kent Mayor, LeRoy M. Satrom, to impose a curfew on the campus and the city. (cite3-1) The mayor also shut down the city bars early. This backfired, only bringing rowdy crowds to the streets. Protestors started bonfires on the streets. It initiated an antiwar sentiment among the crowd. Po...
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...the situation without escalating to more violence. Officers order the guard unit to return back to the ROTC building. Amidst the confusion, a group of guardsmen drop to a knee in unison and aim their M1 rifles towards a group of students in an adjacent parking lot. For 13 seconds, 67 rounds rained down upon the parking lot. 13 students are hit by the volley. Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder are killed. Nine others are wounded.
A lesson on the abuse of power. Real bullets gives real power. Power to kill. An incident such as May 4 demonstrates that real bullets are too much for a riot like this one. This event and ones to follow led the NG to find better ways to enforce without being lethal. This led to the use of non lethal rubber bullets.
The guardsmen were outnumbers, heavily outnumbered, but the students were outgunned.
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