I was too busy yesterday to wish you all a Happy Kent State Day.
A much bigger annual event on this blog, as loyal 5FF readers know, is Hard Hat Day (May 8) so stay tuned.
I can’t top last year’s meaty — and video heavy — Kent State omnibus post, “Shoulda Been Done Long Ago,” so here it is again.
(By the way, were you hanging around university campuses when you were 14 years old? Is that something your daughter gets up to?)
Kent State was hardly a placid campus before the Cambodian operation. The university had 21,000 students, and a sizeable SDS chapter [a communist front group] devoted to making trouble. In November, 1968, for example, charges were brought against 250 members of SDS and the Black United Students who had demonstrated against police recruiting on campus. (…)
“On the evening of May 1, 1970, a day after Richard Nixon announced an American counter-attack into Cambodia, students rioted in the main street of town, broke windows, set fires, and damaged cars. On May 2, a crowd of about 800 assembled on campus, disrupted a dance in a university hall, smashed the windows of the ROTC building, and threw lighted railroad flares inside. The building burned to the ground. A professor who watched the arson later told the Scranton commission, which investigated the shooting and the events leading up to it, ‘I have never in my 17 years of teaching seen a group of students as threatening, or as arrogant, or a bent on destruction.’ (…)
“From May 1 to May 4 there were, in addition, riots in the town’s main street, looting, the intimidation of passing motorists, stoning of police, directions to local merchants to put antiwar posters in their windows or have their stores thrashed, and miscellaneous acts of arson.
All of this occurred before the shooting.
“On May 4, a Monday, about a thousand students gathered on campus. Guardsmen arrived and, probably unwisely, ordered the crowd to disperse. The order was predictably ignored. The Guard fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. The Guard, consisting of a hundred men surrounded by rioters shouting obscenities and chanting “Kill, kill, kill,” were under a constant barrage of rocks, chunks of concrete and cinderblock, and canisters. Fifty-eight Guardsmen were injured by thrown objects. Several of them were knocked to the ground. They had little tear gas left, and the gas had, in any event, been made ineffective by the wind. The Guardsmen retreated up the hill, appearing frightened, and then some of them suddenly turned and fired for thirteen seconds. The firing was apparently spontaneous rather than ordered.”
Recent audio analysis suggests that Kent State students armed with handguns fired first.