This Monday, May 4, marks the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings involving the killing of 4 unarmed university students by the Ohio National Guard. It was a time when armed soldiers of the state shot down unarmed students. Kids should know about these things.
Jeffrey Glenn Miller was 20 years old. He was 265 feet from the National Guard and was shot through the mouth, He was killed instantly.
Allison B. Krause, 19 was 343 feet away and died from a fatal chest wound.
William Knox Schroeder, 19, was 383 feet away and was shot in the back. He died in hospital.
Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20, was 390 feet away from the Guard and was shot in the neck. She bled out while lying on the ground.
Nine other students were wounded, including one permanently paralyzed from the chest down.
The record states that the Guardsmen fired 67 rounds in 13 seconds.
Several days before the campus protests over the expansion of the war into Cambodia, President Nixon called the student protesters “bums”.
The day before the killings an emotional Governor Rhodes of Ohio pounded on the desk and called the student protesters un-American, referring to them as revolutionaries set on destroying higher education in Ohio.
“We’ve seen here at the city of Kent especially, probably the most vicious form of campus oriented violence yet perpetrated by dissident groups. They make definite plans of burning, destroying, and throwing rocks at police, and at the National Guard and the Highway Patrol. This is when we’re going to use every part of the law enforcement agency of Ohio to drive them out of Kent. We are going to eradicate the problem. We’re not going to treat the symptoms. ”
Rhodes said. “They’re the worst type of people that we harbor in America. Now I want to say this. They are not going to take over the campus. I think that we’re up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group that has ever assembled in America.” Rhodes can be heard in the recording of his speech yelling and pounding his fists on the desk.
When I wrote about these incidents on the 45th anniversary the following comment was posted by Sojourner:
“I am from Ohio, and Kent State really changed my life, as it did many my age. I was twenty-years old at the time, and very naive, and this really shook up the world for me, as had losing a close friend in Vietnam a few years earlier.
My paternal grandfather was wealthy and into politics, in the twenties and thirties. And he had several run ins with Rhodes, on a very personal level. Rhodes was an evil, ugly man, a Dick Cheney type, and he was hated in this state after these students were murdered.
I saw an interview with one of the guardsmen, a few months back, and he said most of them shot into the air. But he said a few were out for blood that day, and they got what they wanted.”
In response to the Kent State killings, over 100,000 came to Washing ton to protest and some 4 million students went out on strike and closed down some 450 campuses across the country.
Forgotten in the aftermath of Kent State are the Jackson State killings on May 15, 1970 in Jackson, Mississippi.
The black student body at the historically black, segregated school was protesting the Cambodian incursion and were confronted by city and the Mississippi state police. After midnight police moved to disburse the crowd which had gathered in front of the women’s dorm.
Advancing to within 50 feet the troopers opened fire; the gunfire lasted for 30 seconds, and at least 140 shots were fired by a reported 40 state highway patrolmen using shotguns from 30 to 50 feet. Every window on the narrow side of the building facing Lynch Street was shattered.
Phillip Lafayette Gibbs, 21, a junior, and James Earl Green, 17, a senior and miler at nearby Jim Hill High School, were killed; twelve others were wounded.
There were no arrests in connection with the deaths at Jackson State although an investigating commission called the fusillade “unwarranted”.
The University has memorialized the “tragic occurrence” by naming the area of the shootings Gibbs-Green Plaza.
No one remembers Jackson State. The students were black and unarmed, killed by Mississippi state troopers with shot guns. It was nothing new in 1970 America. The media did not cover the incident and few know or remember.
Phillip Lafayette Gibbs
James Earl Green
Lest we forget