Thursday, May 04, 2006

This is a long post & it's a copy from my post a year ago today on my bu$hmeriKa blog, but people should never forget what a Republican can do. Nixon was horrible. bUSH IS A LOT WORSE THAN HORRIBLE.

This entry is heavy with hi-res pictures - the load times aren't bad, but even if they were, the time is worth it because pictures can say what words cannot.

It is also a concerted effort by my youngest son, Sean, and me. Some of this research was done for a project he had at school. Our text is 2005©. Resources are listed below. Thank you for your visit and especially for your interest.

May 4, 1970

It's the song that opened the decade: "TIN SOLDIERS AND NIXON COMING...FOUR DEAD IN OHIO". Listen to it HERE

A dark moment in our history was created in 13 seconds. 67 live rounds were fired at defenseless students. 4 were killed. 9 were wounded. A nation was furious.

When defenseless U.S. civilians are gunned down by National Guardsmen, without equal force of threat, in cold blood, at mid-day on U.S. soil, IS THAT MURDER? By all legal measures and considerations that I am aware of, it is.

It was a time of great turbulence and upheaval in our country. We were mired in a terrible war in southeast Asia. The Vietnam War (sometimes then referred to as a conflict) was something my generation grew up with. That war was in our living rooms every night, courtesy of television. To us, this was just "normal". Terms like "The Demilitarized Zone", "TET Offensive", "Saigon", "Hanoi", "Ho Chi Menh Trail" and "Da Nang" were all familiar. It was also quite normal to see and feel the unrest in the U.S. concerning the war. There wasn't any "middle of the road" stance that I ever personally observed. The lines were drawn definitively. So, the citizens also were kept abreast of the civil uprising as a result of the war.

If you didn't come of age in the 70s, you need to know this story. You need to know that it really was different than it is today. As we find ourselves trapped in another unjust and deadly war in Iraq, dissent is going to quickly become a necessity for our salvation.

It was the 70s. Rock and Roll was in it's heyday. Superstars were emerging and it seemed that every song was a number one hit. We were carefree; dropping out and tuning in. We had long hair. We wore bell bottoms. We could identify closely with each other. We were young and strong. But there was a great gulf between the youth of that era and the "establishment" as it was often called. We were trapped in that quagmire too that was Viet Nam. It really was the best of times and the worst of times. We made a stand and we stuck together. It's the one thing that I see that is different with today's youth. Then, we had a president that was consumed with his abuse of power and the youth of that day provided the catalyst for his undoing. Today, we have an arrogant president of questionable intelligence that is in a postion of being untouchable and his corruption and egomania is beyond comparison.

President Richard Nixon's announcement on April 30, 1970 of the U.S. led invasion of Cambodia and the need to draft more soldiers for an expansion of the Vietnam War effort provoked massive protests on campuses throughout the country. Immediate reaction in the form of dissent began to grow across the United States, mainly on the campuses of our universities and colleges. It was obvious that Nixon's intent was an expansion of the war that was taking so many lives on both sides. Over four million college students joined in a massive protest against the war. Over 900 colleges and universities were shut down across the country. From April through July 1970, eleven students were killed on college campuses in the United States. All of this turmoil at home was the actual turning point in the war. Richard Nixon didn't care. He was a hard right wing Republican with an agenda:

"You know, you see these bums, you know, blowin' up the campuses. Listen, the boys that are on the college campuses today are the luckiest people in the world, going to the greatest universities, and here they are, burnin' up the books, I mean, stormin' around about this issue, I mean, you name it —- get rid of the war, there'll be another one."
-----------------------Richard Nixon May 2, 1970, New York Times


It was the first year of the new decade. Things turned bad and turbulent that summer.

At Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, it was no different:

On Friday May 1, in the downtown section of Kent known as "The Strip", an anti-war rally began in the evening involving some 500 students and town residents. Windows were broken, the crowd became unruly by throwing beer bottles at police cars, banks and business buildings. When he learned of it, Mayor Leroy Satrom ordered the bars closed. This was a mistake as several hundred more disgruntled people were forced into the streets with an already uncivil crowd. All off duty police officers were called in and the crowd was forced with tear gas and night sticks toward the campus. The crowd eventually was dispersed. The damage toll for that evening could have been worse. It amounted to 43 windows being broken, debris in the streets and 14 arrests. Nothing could relieve the tension on either side.

On Saturday May 2 many students joined with city workers in the morning and helped clean up the streets. In the late morning hours a dusk to dawn curfew was imposed by the mayor that further stipulated all students would be quarantined to the university property. At approximately 5 PM, he alerted the Ohio National Guard. He did not inform the university administration of this decision. A protest march on campus involving over 2000 students began shortly after 8 PM. They ended up at the ROTC building. ROTC stands for Reserve Officers Training Corps and was seen by many in those days as junior establishment trainees and part of the "fascist" problem. Again, things got out of control and the windows were broken out of the building. Eventually the building was set on fire. It quickly became totally engulfed in flames. The city's fire department responded but the students attacked the fireman resulting in them having to leave and return with a large number of police reinforcements. The students were dispersed with tear gas and night sticks again and the fire was finally brought under control. One student was bayoneted that night. This situation in particular was mirrored on campuses across the United States as some thirty ROTC buildings were burned down.

By Sunday May 3 the full presence of the Ohio National Guard was seen by everyone. There was a full contingent occupation of the city and campus. They numbered 1200 and were equipped in full combat gear included M-1 rifles with live ammunition. Armored personnel carriers were stationed at key points everywhere. Mutual hostility was growing every minute. Ohio Governor James A. Rhodes saw a political opportunity in the events at Kent State and visited the city that morning. He was running for the U.S. Senate and his platform was that of "law and order". The primary election was only two days away and he was hoping that an appearance with a strong stance against the uprising would garner him more votes. In a highly inflammatory speech, Rhodes claimed that the demonstrations at Kent were the handiwork of a highly organized band of revolutionaries who were out to "destroy higher education in Ohio." He went as far as to actually say that the protestors were "the worst type of people we harbor in America, worse than the brown shirts and the communist element...we will use whatever force necessary to drive them out of Kent!" On the other side of the scene, Assistant Adjutant General Robert Canterbury was telling his troops that Ohio law gave them the right to shoot if necessary. This statement alone, I think, helped heighten the hostility that the guardsmen held against the students and certainly helped justify in their minds what they were about to do with the power they had been given. By 8 PM a huge crowd of students had gathered peacefully on campus at a place known as The Commons near the Victory Bell. Guard officials, using a bullhorn informed the crowd that a new curfew was going to be instated and enforced and that they would have to disperse immediately. The students held their ground. At 9 PM the Ohio Riot Act was read aloud by a guard official. Helicopters were called in and tear gas canisters were fired directly into the crowd from the air. This dispersed the crowd, but they re-grouped and began a march into the downtown area but was met by a wall of the Ohio National Guard at the intersection of East Main and Lincoln Streets where they all sat down staging what used to be called a "sit-in". A spokesperson for the students demanded that Mayor Satrom and KSU President Robert White come there and speak with them so that they might address the presence of the Ohio National Guard. A guard spokesman agreed if the students would move out of the street and back to the main campus. The students complied. It was immediately made known that this was a lie when the same spokesman from the guard announced that the new curfew was in effect immediately and ordered the crowd to disperse. The crowd didn't even have time to react. Helicopters again flew over and began shooting tear gas canisters into the crowd of students. As they tried to escape, guardsmen attacked with bayonets and clubs, stabbing and beating students at will. They were chased back into their dorms being assaulted all the way. Helicopters flew over the campus for the remainder of the night using searchlights and periodically firing tear gas canisters onto the campus.

Kent State student Alan Canfora stands his ground in the face of death on May 4, 1970. Several shots were fired at him and he managed to hide behind a tree. He was shot through the wrist.
Alan maintains an EXCELLENT WEBSITE and is active in KSU Memorials as a speaker every year. The picture above is from his site and I culled much information from there. Please give him a visit.

By the time that May 4 had arrived, the Ohio National Guard were determined to not allow any type of assembly by students. Regardless, by noon about 1500 students had gathered on The Commons once again. Some were there to protest the invasion of Cambodia, while others were mere spectators. Assistant Adjutant General Robert Canterbury ordered bullhorn instructions for the students to disperse immediately. The response from the students was one of rebellion towards the "authority". Canterbury then ordered 116 guardsmen to disperse the crowd. Bayonets were fixed, tear gas was brought at the ready and the guardsmen attacked. The students were aware of the bayonet stabbings of the night before and ran up to Blanket Hill. One student didn't get away and was beaten with clubs by several guardsmen. Tear gas was fired at the students randomly and were being picked up and thrown back at the advancing guard. The students were splintered into smaller groups as the guard advanced to an area used as a practice football field. For the next ten minutes canisters went back and forth between the guard and a small group of students trapped at Prentice Hall 100 yards from the guardsmen. The largest group of students had gathered at Taylor Hall and were nothing more than spectators. It was then that the guardsmen (known as Troop G) knelt to the ground and brought their M-1 rifles to bear on the students. Satisfied that the crowd had been dispersed to his liking, Canterbury ordered the guardsmen back to his location on The Commons. As they were returning, a group of the guardsmen stopped and huddled briefly and then continued back. Students began walking away assuming the tense moment was over. Many eyewitness accounts that day reported that the group who had huddled earlier kept looking back at a parking lot area where a few of the students who were most vocal had been chased to. Inexplicably, as the guardsmen reached the top of Blanket hill, still in retreat, about a dozen members turned, aimed and fired into the crowd of students crossing the parking lot area. The word "fire" was heard just before the volley of bullets. Needless to say, mass pandemonium ensued.

In the aftermath, wounded and dead were rushed to the nearest hosital, Robinson Memorial Hospital. The hospital identified the dead students as Allison Krause, 19 years old, of Pittsburgh; Sandra Lee Scheuer, 20, of Youngstown, Ohio, both coeds; Jeffrey Glenn Miller, 20, of 22 Diamond Drive, Plainsview, L.I., and William K. Schroeder, 19, of Lorain, Ohio.

The nine students wounded (several seriously) were: Joseph Lewis, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Robbie Stamps, Donald Scott MacKenzie, Alan Canfora, Douglas Wrentmore, James Russell and Dean Kahler.

Dean Kahler of Athens, Ohio survived with the most serious injuries. He was permanently paralyzed after being shot in the back.

At Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, it was no different:

Athens Ohio- TWO WEEKS Of A Lesser Known Story

An Ohio National Guardsman stands at Class Gate on the morning of May 15, 1970. At 3:10 a.m. on May 15, OU President Claude R. Sowle made the announcement that school was closed for the rest of the quarter because of nearly two weeks of rioting, rallies and protests following the Kent State shootings. 1500 Ohio National Guard troops were sent in to instate Martial Law in the city.

Ohio National Guardsmen march in front of Varsity Theatre (which today is Taco Bell) on Court Street on May 15, 1970. The National Guardsmen were called in to assist with the closing of OU's campus due to rioting by students following the Kent State shootings.

The Athens News

Times that shook Athens to its core

By: Amanda Sledz
NEWS Campus Reporter

"The sky has fallen" read the weather description in the May 15, 1970 edition of the University Post. These words summarized the general feeling after two days of that forced President Claude Sowle, who took office in 1969, to close the Ohio University campus .

The decision to close until summer quarter was made with much regret, after city and officials failed to gain control of a chaotic situation. Fifteen hundred National Guardsmen poured into Athens after a joint decision was reached between Mayor Raymond Shepard and Sowle, who felt desperate after two nights of violent confrontations between students and police. The official statement was issued at 3:10 .m., in which Sowle admitted, "We tried, but we failed."

Tension had been building over a long period of time between the Athens Police and students and the university administration. The concept of "Athens justice" was far different from the justice of the everyday world, in that students being arrested for relatively trivial offenses.

"There was a lot of tension," recalled Doug McCabe, a freshman at OU in 1970 who now as university records manager at OU's Alden Library. "Tension with 'Athens ' included not only the police department and the courthouses, but also the administration, the mayor and those kind of people. A lot of the final explosion came to local issues," McCabe added.

In one instance, police arrested three male students for indecent exposure after they down the street with their shirts off. In another, a noted hippie activist arrested for not wearing a shirt, and wearing his pants too low. He was also with desecration of the American flag, due to the flag patch that covered the rear his pants.

Phipps, a student at the time and a current OU employee, recalled that one police stated about the latter incident, "You could see the crack of his ass, and could even see his 'public hair'."

"There were a bunch of people thrown off the monument for desecration of the monument, (the police official) thought it was city property, but it wasn't; it was property," Phipps added. "And sometimes they had cops directing traffic people would throw snowballs at them."

In another instance, a student was spotted observing a "no parking" sign, and overheard he might like to steal it. Upon hearing such statements uttered, a police promptly arrested him for attempted defacement of city property.

"People were getting arrested left and right for jay walking. Another person was arrested obscene language, which today is pretty common," McCabe recalled.

He also remembers the January 1970 "Fee Hike" demonstration, in which numerous entered Cutler Hall to protest the steadily increasing fees imposed by the . When the police cavalry rolled in, one or two people gave them Nazi salutes.

From the eyes of the students then, according to McCabe, "police were fascist pigs, of an oppressive, fascist government. Police would pick out leaders the crowd, and send flying squads of three or four (officers) into the crowds, them, handcuff them, and beat them with night sticks." During this protest, a total of people were arrested.

As the year rolled on, polarization between the Athens community and university became greater and greater.

"Attitudes like, 'All townies are rednecks', 'all students are hippies', 'all faculty liberal commies'; people were going to the extreme," McCabe said.

Local ministers attached to United Campus Ministry took it upon themselves to act mediators and keep things peaceful between the angry antagonists. As it got closer closer to riot time, the ministers found that they weren't being listened to.

"I remember a fall day when we were protesting the war," Phipps said. "We marched and around Court Street and came back, and people in a car went past. This middle-aged was yelling obscenities at us, and I didn't understand why. I assumed she was who had somebody over there (in Vietnam) already. When you're doing something saying, 'Give peace a chance,' I don't understand how anybody could argue with . I was so naive and so astounded that people would actually scream obscenities you for wishing we'd end the war."

The situation that caused a great deal of distress was the presence of ROTC on , which many students, according to McCabe, equated with the U.S. Army. "Since were interested in stopping the war, by stopping ROTC they were stopping war on campus," he explained. The OU yearbook of 1970 read: "ROTC is dying. It should."

"They couldn't teach classes on campus. Officials here to do teaching had faculty , and the students wanted the faculty status removed," McCabe said.

Even though the tensions built gradually, the real trouble began on April 22, when eight students entered an ROTC classroom in Carnegie Hall. According to a statement by the Student Union, a student protest group, the students entered the classroom to observe the teaching process. The professor became upset and contacted the Athens , who promptly arrested the students for trespassing and resisting arrest. One student standing outside began shouting at the officers for arresting the others , and he was arrested too. The ninth was charged with assault and battery.

In response to these arrests, 50 students broke into an afternoon meeting of the President's Council in Cutler Hall and protested ROTC and the imprisonment of the group would come to be known as the Athens Nine. Later, around 2,000 people gathered at Memorial Auditorium to protest the arrests. Despite the protests, the charges not dropped.

May 4, 1970, a large group of protesters gathered on the College Green to sing songs and protest the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. Similar protests and demonstrations on college campuses across the country. The crowd swelled in size when news arrived that four students had been shot and killed by the National Guard during at Kent State in Northeastern Ohio.

As the word spread, OU students staged the largest demonstration in the state with 4,000 people filling the College Green to protest the war and the deaths at Kent. During the protest, the students called for a two-day strike, and six ministers from United Campus Ministry began a day fast. Both students and teachers gathered on the green to sing folk songs chant, while speakers encouraged them to remain non-violent in the effort to peace.

"Up till then it was just sort of flower children, and then they started killing people, it really brought it home that it was serious," Phipps recalled. "It sobered lot of people and radicalized a lot of people. People were kind of naive and thought they could march around town and make a difference, and then we realized it took lot more."

On May 5, 4,000 students gathered at 9 p.m. for a rally at Grover Center. President encouraged the students to continue to protest non-violently, and asked that not follow in the footsteps of Ohio State and Kent and allow violent riots to the university. Sowle stated that the other universities had "caved in to the forces anarchy."

Vocalizing their outrage, the students demanded that OU be closed for one day, to the university's sympathy with the Kent State victims, and to publicly denounce invasion of Cambodia. President Sowle refused, though he did allow "teach- ins" take place on the green. Each professor had to decide whether to penalize students missing classes.

May 6, more than 300 students circulated around local businesses and requested their doors be closed to show sympathy for the Kent State deaths. Many businesses . Later, 2,500 people participated in the "March Against Death."

May 7, a firebomb exploded in Peden Stadium, which caused substantial damage to equipment.

May 11, 2,500 students gathered in Grover Center to hear speaker John Froines, member of the Chicago Conspiracy Eight. Later that evening, more than 150 people into the vacant Chubb library and "liberated" the building until 6 a.m. Tuesday.

May 12, a firebomb exploded causing $120,000 in damage to Nelson Commons, which under construction at the time.

Many other protests took place throughout the week. About 60 protesters staged a march the middle of Court Street and sat down at the Court and Carpenter intersection front of the National Guard Armory.

Some students and faculty members wanted the university to remain open, but felt frustrated the numerous peaceful protests had gone unnoticed by the media, while the violent taking place were gaining a great deal of attention.

In short time, enough money had been raised by supporters of the Athens Nine to post bond free them. The money was collected by students standing on street corners with and requesting spare change. When the judge responded by increasing the bonds, gathered in front of the county courthouse in protest. Police Capt. Charles said that if the students would disperse and be peaceful that evening, he speak with the judge and see if he could convince him to lower the bond to price originally set. The judge agreed and the Athens Nine were freed.

May 13, Sowle responded to the student's release by immediately suspending seven the students, after contacting several members of the university Board of Trustees to seek approval for his actions. The grounds for the suspensions were the students "constitute a clear and immediate danger to the orderly function the university," and therefore their presence could not be tolerated.

Many students and faculty members expressed outrage that the nine students were not through OU's regular disciplinary system. The Faculty Senate voted 13-12 in of reinstating the students and calling an emergency hearing. Sowle refused request, and tensions continued to mount.

"He suspended the rules, and he suspended the students. That was, in a lot of ways, straw that broke the camel's back," McCabe said.

The students held a mass rally on the second floor of Baker Center at 7:30 on Wednesday, more than 500 students attended to plan a course of action to force Sowle to his decision. They marched through the residential greens to gather more , and then back towards Cutler Hall to begin a demonstration. Sowle appeared on the of Cutler Hall, but refused to reinstate the students. At this point, about students charged towards Court and Union, throwing rocks at windows. Cutler Hall showered with bricks. Another 200 watched, until they were all driven back by tear . Sowle still refused their demands. Students fired rocks at police officers, off firecrackers, and threw debris at local businesses.

Wednesday, $650 worth of damage had been done to Logan's Bookstore, and many the nearby stores had broken windows. Windows were also broken in Chubb library, Wilson Hall, and Galbreath Chapel. Students smashed the glass panels of parking meters, even removed them from their concrete holsters. Police reports reveal that there several bomb threats made, reports of busloads of students coming in from out town, and concerns that the Black Panthers were also coming. Police from Belpre called in to assist.

Thursday, the students were more prepared for the chaos that would ensue. 300 students gathered on College Green and the area surrounding Baker Center just sunset. About 800 moved towards Court and Union. There, police assembled in to prevent them from working their way into town. Students responded to this detainment bricks and rocks.

11:05 p.m. police fired the first round of a massive amount of tear gas containers the crowd. The target was the more than 800 students that had gathered at the College gate.

Auxilary marshals and protesters broke into fights, when marshals tried to dissuade students or turn them into police. Around 9 Wednesday morning, a student broke Baker Center and stole nearly 500 marshal arm bands, and passed them out to . The university issued papers to student marshals that had to be carried in order validate their marshal status. Nurses in uniforms from Hudson Health Center moved the streets to tend to injured students.

"There were some people who just liked to throw things on cops," McCabe explained, , "18,000 stayed away from riots, who don't like to get tear gassed, and don't see the point of battling the cops.

"I know there were a lot of people like me who didn't participate in the riot but concerned about the war and participated in sit-ins and protest marches," he said .

The students were more prepared on Thursday, with buckets of water and rags to battle tear gas, and more bricks, rocks and bottles. This would give them the capability carry on a 90-minute battle with police. Students would charge the officers, firing rocks, bricks, bottles, and anything else they could get their hands on. The police respond with tear gas, which would drive the students back. Students picked the gas cans and tossed them back at police. When police cruisers drove by, with firing tear gas from inside, the cars were then pelted with debris and had their broken.

By midnight, members of the State Highway Patrol placed roadblocks at all entrances into Athens.

"We went out to Nelsonville, and we were coming home around 11," Phipps remembered that evening. "The cops had roadblocks set up and were stopping anyone who trying to drive into town. The guy wouldn't let us through. The highway patrolman really nasty. So we went up through another intersection and managed to get that cop, seemed a little calmer, and we talked to him. We told him where we lived and street address; we told him that we weren't going into town, we were just trying go home. So then he said that he'd take care of it, and we went back and the (first) let us through, but he had to give us that nasty parting remark."

A spokesman for the State Highway Patrol said at the time, "We're just trying to keep out of town so no one gets hurt, but if they insist on going in, we don't to stop them." The Athens Police announced that no vehicles would be allowed Athens until early Friday morning.

As the rioters were driven down Jeff Hill, it took another hour to disperse them their new stronghold. There was another round of fired and returned gas, rocks, , and glass. Then more gas was thrown on West Green in an attempt to disperse crowds. Twenty-six students were treated at Hudson for various injuries, and seven hospitalized.

He recalled the atmosphere of chaos -- "Teach-ins, rallies, false fire alarms, bombings; brick sidewalks had been torn up so people could grab bricks to throw the cops; police were getting calls about three hippie subjects coming down Rt. 33 on motorcycles -- one with a gas can, the other a gas mask. Some were suspicions, some were not . People were on roofs and buildings, and people suspected that they had weapons."

In addition, on the first night of the riots, two African American females were beaten by members of the all-white fraternity Phi Delta Theta. In the 1970 yearbook, of the fraternity posed with a Confederate flag as a prop. Black students horrified by this act, and decided to take action to prevent any other black students being assaulted. The students marched through the greens and seized Davis Hall, to police reports, carrying chains and clubs. Black females filled the floor of the building. The students disconnected the elevator, broke lights, and the stairwells with fire hoses. Once the floor was secure and the students confident that they were "protecting our black sisters from violence," most the male students marched uptown to seek revenge on the fraternity responsible for the beatings.

Arriving at the fraternity house, the students threw bricks through the windows and shouted. were fired over the heads of the students from a gunman inside the house, and crowd scattered.

The students held Davis for the majority of the evening. Members of the National Guard to negotiate, but the students were terrified of what might happen if they their faces.

"They thought, if these people were willing to shoot white students at Kent State, would have no problem at all shooting a black student," McCabe explained. Eventually, compromise was reached, and the students evacuated the hall.

Then on Thursday, a car was firebombed near Scott Quad, and small fires were extinguished Clippinger Laboratory and the engineering building.

Mayor Shepard then called in the National Guard, who were standing by at fairgrounds, but who would not agree to assist until Sowle closed the university, to orders issued by Gov. Jim Rhodes. At 3:10 a.m. Sowle complied. At this point, other state-supported schools in Ohio had already closed, according to McCabe.

"Before, he would send in the National Guard to keep things open," McCabe added. "Now was saying you had to close."

When the announcement was made by Sowle, the National Guard moved in to seal off campus.

"The National Guard started rolling in, all these soldiers and their army trucks. they were lined up on Court Street at every parking meter," Phipps recalled.

Sowle announced the closing of the school, students were given 24 to 32 hours evacuate the campus. TA's and instructors would receive their full salaries, grades stand as they were, and there would be no graduation that year.

"After one night of rioting, it was kind of serious, then a second night of rioting. that time, university administrators, and city administrators, and the police, been working double shifts and were absolutely worn out and frazzled. The students stay up all night, and if they wanted to they could skip classes during the day sleep, while everyone else had to get up and do their regular work shifts," McCabe .

After the closing of the university, President Sowle received a tremendous amount mail from alumni, current students, and concerned citizens. Some expressed remorse the closing of the school, others resentment towards the students. According McCabe, some went so far enough as to say, "you didn't do enough, you should have shot , shoot them all."

According to a New York Times reporter present at both the Kent State and OU disturbances, the OU riot was far worse than the events that unfolded at Kent, no one seriously injured or killed in the two nights of riots in Athens.

Daniel Keyes, who at the time was a member of the English Department and would become the critically acclaimed author of "Flowers for Algernon," had letter in the final issue of the Post. In it, he asked that students, "Reconsider - you are fouling your own nest, you are destroying your own bases of operations, you are the wrong thing for the right reasons. The means should not be permitted to the ends." He went on to say, "The university is and must remain a neutral ."

He believed that the riots could have been prevented if Sowle had reinstated the students, and if the media were as inclined to publicize the peaceful protests they were the violent ones.

An anonymous student was quoted in the Athens Messenger as reflecting an opinion shared a majority of students: "What are we protesting for? To get the government to to us. But how much news coverage have we got? Practically nothing. It looks bad news is good news."

personal note:

I grew up on Mill Street in Athens. At that time it was still mostly family residences. Today, it is all student rental area. Mill Street is about a city block from where all of this took place. I remember all of this vividly. I was 13 years old at the time. To a kid, it seemed like the rioting lasted for a month in our town. I remember laying in bed at night & my brothers and I would listen to the riots "uptown". We could here all of the shouting, glass breaking, tear gas canisters being shot off, sirens. Our Mom would come in our rooms and close the windows because tear gas would get into our house. Here's the kicker- my dad was an O.U. police officer. I loved my Dad dearly. He's passed away now. He was doing his job. I remember him being gone for days at a time, stopping home to eat, shower & change clothes. I was also terribly against the war. Talk about torn. I was sure that Nixon would get me and both of my brothers. As it turned out, Saigon fell five years later- a little over two months after I turned 18. I still have my draft card- status class 1-H. I'm 48 years old now. I have four sons ranging in age from 15 to 23. I'll be damned if his majesty, the mad, arrogant emperor duh-bya gets any of them to die for his "glory".

"What lies behind us and what lies before us is a small matter to what lies within us"
-------------------------------------OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

On May 4, 1970, the manager of Koons Music Store on Court Street posted up-to-date reports on the Kent State shootings as soon as they appeared on the AP wire. The store was urged by other local businesses to stop posting the bulletins because it might incite student riots at OU, but the store managers continued to post the updates so students could read them from outside of the store window.

"The Sky Has Fallen" -Post Weather, May 15, 1970

Perhaps it rained on May 15, 1970. Maybe it was sunny. The Post staff was not concerned with the weather that day.

At 3:10 a.m., Ohio University President Claude R. Sowle officially announced that the school was closed. Students were given until 5.p.m. the next day to gather their things and leave campus. There was a National Guardsman at every parking meter on Court Street. The smell of tear gas still hung in the air and wafted from the trees.

In the late 1960s and early '70s, a surge of anti-Vietnam and anti-authority sentiment had taken hold of the country. One of the outlets was college campuses. President Sowle's announcement followed a month of protests, rioting, bombs and campus fires. Ohio University held out longer than many other colleges, but after the Kent State shootings on May 4, the threat of violence quickly escalated, forcing the school to close.

Tragedy at Kent State

On May 4, 1970, National Guardsmen fired on a crowd of students, killing four and injuring nine. The effects of the Kent State shootings reverberated through the nation, shocking and enraging students. For Ohio University students, the political movement had become personal. Students had been killed.

Although anti-war sentiment had been prevalent at Kent State for several months, an announcement by President Nixon on Thursday, April 30, 1970 that several thousand ground troops had entered Cambodia incited student protest. Following this announcement, students planned anti-war rallies and protests, and set fire to the ROTC building on Saturday night. By Monday, May 4, the Ohio National Guard had been called in, and relations between the students and guardsmen were tense. The campus was under martial law.

Monday at noon, 500 students gathered for an anti-war rally. The National Guardsmen warned the students to disperse, and then tried to break up the rally with tear gas. But students ignored the warning and moved to the other side of a small hill. At approximately 12:30, the National Guardsmen fired into the crowd of students.

Valaria McCabe, currently an assistant director for student services in the OU College of Education, was a freshman at Kent State in 1970. At 12 noon on May 4, she was on the eighth floor of her dormitory, watching the rally with binoculars. She heard shots, but at first didn't realize what was happening. She thought the students were setting off firecrackers. But her dorm was across the street from the Health Center, and soon she saw blood-covered students being carried in on stretchers.

Kent State was shut down at 1:20 p.m., and McCabe left for OU immediately with several friends. McCabe had no idea students had been killed, and she thought she would be returning to school in a week. "We just wanted to get out of town," she said.

On the way down to Ohio University, McCabe and her friends heard that four students had been killed, including Allison Krause, who was in class with Valaria and whom she had seen the day before. "We flipped out," she said. She and her friends drove to OU going between 75 and 80 mph, and with each mile Valaria said they felt the tension from Kent State drain away. When they finally reached Athens, McCabe breathed a sigh of relief when she saw College Gate. But she would not be able to relax for long. A banner on College Gate read "Rally Tonight, 7 p.m." She realized then that OU was not safe from the violence that had erupted at Kent.

Ohio University Reacts

Meanwhile, Valaria's boyfriend and future husband, Doug McCabe, was a freshman at Ohio University. He learned of the shootings at Kent State from bulletins set up on College Green and in Koons Music Store with the latest Associated Press wire reports. He had talked to Valaria the night before on the phone, and warned her not to go to the noon rally. But McCabe did not know if she had taken his advice. He tried to reach her on the phone, but the entire system at Kent State had been turned off. He had no way of reaching her and did not know if she had been involved.

But he found out a few hours later when McCabe arrived at OU and found him on College Green. "She just came strolling across the green," McCabe said with a laugh. "It was a pretty nice reunion."

Tom Hodson, OU assistant to the president for special projects and an attorney with the firm of Eslocker, Hodson and Oremus, was also on an OU student in 1970. Hodson was assistant editor of The Post in 1970, and he immediately ran to the newsroom after hearing about the shootings in class. "That's it," he thought at the time. Hodson said he knew it was inevitable that the university would close.

A rally was held that evening on the Memorial Auditorium portico to protest the Kent State shootings. Both Doug and Valaria McCabe attended the rally. At the rally, a male student stood up and shouted, "The revolution is here!" Valaria, who did not want to see a repeat of Kent State at OU, stood up and told the crowd about her experience at Kent State, advocating peaceful rather than violent action.

"They will shoot you," she told the crowd.

Tension Builds

But the situation grew more violent rather than more peaceful as the week went on. OU was not the only university experiencing problems. By May 13, Ohio University was the only state-funded university still open in Ohio. However, President Sowle was determined to keep OU open.

Valaria McCabe only stayed in Athens for a week because she did not feel safe at OU. "Students weren't going to classes," she said. "Things were not going to settle down."

Most of the student protests were directed against the Vietnam War, Hodson said. Although college-aged males could be drafted at 18, students could not vote until they were 21. In addition to political unrest, students were frustrated with college fee hikes and what they felt were unreasonable rules set by university authorities, McCabe said.

Doug McCabe, curator of manuscripts for Alden Library Archives and Special Collections, remained at OU, but did not actively participate in the riots on Court Street. On May 13, the night of the first riot, McCabe went to Wray House on New South Green, even though it was still under construction, because it was the farthest dorm from campus. Even though McCabe was trying to escape, he could still hear noise from the riots from where he was camping out.

Because McCabe was against the war, he did attend talks, rallies and marches during the day, and went to some classes when he felt like it. Most OU students did not support the war, but did not participate in violent protests, he said. It was only a small group of students who advocated violence, and the rest of the students were simply onlookers at the nightly riots, McCabe said.

Despite the nightly rallies, 99 percent of classes were still continuing as usual, said Art Marinelli Jr., a current business law professor who taught at OU in 1970.

"In the daytime, you would not think anything was amiss," Marinelli said. "But the difference between day and night was unbelievable."

Marinelli was a faculty marshal, and had the responsibility of helping the police arrest students. When Marinelli was assisting on Court Street, he had to dodge tear gas canisters, bottles, and bricks hurled by students. Many female students who were not on the front lines carried water-soaked rags for the students who had been tear-gassed.

"Students would go within three to four feet a police officer, and throw a brick," Marinelli said. "The policemen showed unbelievable restraint-I still don't know how they didn't shoot."

By May 13, the university and law enforcement began to lose control over campus, Marinelli said. Local policemen were overworked. President Sowle repeatedly asked Governor Jim Rhodes for help, but the governor refused to send the National Guard because of the criticism he was receiving for Kent State. Police and faculty members were working night and day to keep things under control. In addition to the booking duty of faculty and student marshals, faculty and students were also responsible for 24-hour patrols in every dormitory and classroom building.

Whenever the Athens Police Department got involved with student action, there was a sense of confrontation, Hodson said. But if the National Guard had been sent in at President Sowle's request, there would have been a much greater possibility of a repeat of the violence at Kent State, he said.

Lack of sleep on the part of students, faculty, university administrators and policemen increased the tense situation at OU, and further incited the riots, McCabe said. Faculty members were asked to camp out in buildings to protect them, and police constantly had to respond to dumpster fires, he said. McCabe said that if the university had closed campus for even one day, some of this tension may have been relieved and OU would not have had to close a month early.

Marinelli said he recalls the spring of 1970 as a very frightening, frustrating, and sad time. He said there was a definite possibility for violence at OU after the Kent State shootings, and Ohio University is lucky that no one was seriously hurt. "It is an absolute miracle we did not have any deaths," Marinelli said.

School is Closed

"President Claude R. Sowle announced today that Ohio University is to be closed today effective immediately until the beginning of summer quarter. Next week all students will receive by mail information concerning options that will be available to them with respect to grades and credit for their academic work. All University personnel, faculty, staff, and non-academic workers are asked to report as usual on Friday," -The Post, Friday, May 15, 1970

This statement was released at 3:10 a.m. on May 15, officially closing the university.

President Sowle could not have kept the school open any longer, Marinelli said. Local police could not endure another day of fighting, and the danger of violence was too great to keep school open any longer.

"There was no question, no option," he said. "The school had to close."

On May 15, the morning school was closed, Marinelli was stopped by one of the many National Guardsmen lined up on College Green and was asked to show his OU identification. Marinelli did not have his university I.D. with him, so he was escorted off campus.

McCabe said he remembers walking across College Green that morning and seeing a National Guardsman at every parking meter on Court Street. "I got halfway across College Green, and I was bawling from the tear gas," he said.

After the incidents of May 1970, it took at least 10 years for OU to recover from the drop in reputation and enrollment caused by the riots, Marinelli said.

"Those were the 'dark days' which hurt our recruitment and reputation," Marinelli said. "It took a long time to come back."

When Hodson heard the announcement that school was closed, he said he had a feeling of emptiness. Even though it was Hodson's senior year, there was no graduation ceremony that year. Because of the permanent association of his senior year with feelings of anger, resentment, and fear, Hodson said he will never forget the spring of 1970.

"All of a sudden my life had changed completely," Hodson said. "We only had a short period of time to pack our things and go home."'

SOURCE: O.U. Post Archives

Picture Credits:

All of the Kent State pictures are credited to Chuck Ayers, excepting the Pulitzer Prize winning photo of Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling over Jeff Miller's body. That picture is credited to John Filo.

Athens pictures are credited to local media.

"This country's first national student strike was the result of the killing of four students by National Guardsmen. The 100-a-day new campus protests that occurred during the four days following theing the four days following the student fatalities at Kent State are unprecedented in our history. Kent State escalated years of student unrest to historic heights that shocked the nation. What gave the period of May 1-15 its unique intensity and agony was the killing of four students at Kent State on May 4."

--from the book ON STRIKE...SHUT IT DOWN! (a 1970 scientific national survey by Urban Research Corporation of Chicago)

"The climax of dissent, disruption and tragedy in all American history to date occurred in May, 1970. That month saw the involvement of students and institutions in protests in greater numbers than ever before in history."

--Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California

"The impact is only barely suggested by the statistics, but they are impressive enough. In the next four days (after the Kent State shootings), from May 5 to May 8, there were major campus demonstrations at a rate of more than 100 a day, students at a total of at least 350 institutions went on strike and 536 schools were shut down completely for some period of time, 51 of them for the entire year. More than half of the colleges and universities in the country (1,350) were ultimately touched by protest demonstrations, involving nearly 60% of the student population (nearly five million students) in every kind of institution anery kind of institution and in every state in the union."
--from the book SDS by Kirkpatrick Sale

"There can be little doubt that the current period (May, 1970) of student unrest has had more impact on the body politic than any previous epoch in American history..."
--from the book PASSION and POLITICS by Seymour Martin Lipset

"Those few days after Kent State were among the darkest of my presidency."

--from the book RN: THE MEMOIRS OF RICHARD NIXON by President Richard Nixon

"Kent State, in May 1970, marked a turning point for Nixon, a beginning of his downhill slide toward Watergate. None of us realized it then, we were all too busy trying to calm the national furor over the Cambodian invasion."

--from the book THE ENDS OF POWER by H.R. Haldeman (one of Nixon's closest White House advisers)

"When on May 4, four students at Kent State University were killed by rifle-fire from National Guardsmen dispatched by Ohio Governor James Rhodes, to keep order during several days of violence, there was a shock wave that brought the nation and its leadership close to the point of physical exhaustion...The momentum of student strikes and protests accelerated immediately...Washington took on a character of a beseiged city. A pinnacle of mass public protest was reached... Police surrounded the W... Police surrounded the White House; a ring of buses was used to shield the grounds of the President's home...The tidal wave of media and student criticism powerfully affected the Congress...The very fabric of governmment was falling apart. The executive branch was shell-shocked. After all, their children and their friends' children took part in the demonstrations...The President saw himself as the firm rock in this rushing stream, but the turmoil had its effect on him as well. Pretending indifference, he was deeply wounded... Nixon reached a point of exhaustion that caused his advisors deep concern."

--from the book THE WHITE HOUSE YEARS by Henry Kissinger (Nixon's Secretary of State)

"Again, where the people are absolute rulers of the land,

they rejoice in having a reserve of youthful citizens,

while a king counts this a hostile element

and seeks to slay the leading ones,

all such as he deems discreet,

for he feareth for his power."

--from the Greek tragedy, THE SUPPLIANTS,

by Euripedes


Don't Think It Can't Happen Again: A Tribute To The Kent State Killings; Chuck Buckley May 4, 2000

On This Day: May 4, 1970; The New York Times

May 4, 1970: Kent State Eyewitness, Victim, Expert; Alan Canforth

*KENT May 4 Center


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