USA. Ohio. Kent. May 4, 1970. Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14 year-old student, kneels beside Jeffrey Milley who’d been shot by the National Guard. Though the photo that first circulated turned out to be manipulated, this is the original, un-doctored version. This picture won the Pulitzer Prize.
The Kent State shootings occurred at Kent State University and involved the shooting of college students by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970.
National Guardsmen fired into a group of unarmed students, killing four and wounded another nine—some marching against the Vietnam War and American invasion of Cambodia, some walking by or observing the protest from a distance.
Guardsmen had on the previous day used tear gas to disperse protesters and, by May 4th, rallies were banned and classes resumed. But 2,000 people gathered in what quickly turned into confrontation. Tear gas and bayonets were met with rocks and verbal taunts, which were met with more than 60 rounds of gunfire. In 1974, all charges were dropped against eight of the Guardsmen involved.
There were 28 guards who admitted to firing on top of the hill, 25 of these guards fired 55 rounds into the air and into the ground, 2 of the guards fired .45cal pistol shots, 2 into the crowd, and 3 into the air, one guard fired birdshot into the air. The guardsmen fired 61 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.
There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected public opinion—at an already socially contentious time—over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.
5 May 1970: Thousands of University of Washington students
occupying and blocking Intersate Highway 5 (I-5) and facing state troopers in
riot gear as they protested the killings of 4 students by the national guard at Kent State University and the
invasion of Cambodia.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership conference, told 5,000 peace demonstrators yesterday that the Viet Nam war is a “blasphemy against all that America stands for,” and that President Johnson is more interested in the Viet Nam war than in the war on poverty.
Dr. King had led the demonstrators in a parade in State street. At his side was Dr. Benjamin Spock, co-chairman of the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, a sponsor of the parade and rally.
Atrocities Equal Cong’s Speaking in the Coliseum, Dr. King said, “We are committing atrocities equal to any perpetrated by the Viet Cong. We are left standing before the world glutted by our own barbarity. We are engaged in a war that seeks to turn the clock of history back and perpetuate white colonialism.”
Dr. King said the United States spends $322,000 for each enemy that is killed and it spends $53 for each person in the “so-called” war on poverty.
“And much of that $53 goes for salaries of people who are not poor,” he said.
Peace Lovers Organize “Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace. We must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, preach, and teach, and organize until the very foundations of our nation are shaken.”
Dr. King left immediately after he spoke, and the audience began to leave with him. Dr. Spock, who followed Dr. King to the rostrum, spoke to a half empty house.
Dr. Spock called America the aggressor in Viet Nam and charged that our government has succumbed to an unhealthy distortion of reality.
“Accusation Isn’t True” “Lyndon Johnson launched attack on North Viet Nam claiming that it was engaged in a direct military effort to take over South Viet Nam. But history shows—to anyone willing to read it—that this accusation was not true.
“For 13 years our government has been trying, unsuccessfully to gain control of South Viet Nam, by means of a Quisling puppet regime and more recently by armed invasion.”
Dr. Spock to Quit After the rally, Dr. Spock, 64, said he plans to retire from his post at Western Reserve university to devote more time to the peace movement.
Another speaker, Emil Mazey, secretary-treasurer of the United Auto Workers, said, “There has been a tremendous credibility gap in the information that the American people have been fed concerning Viet Nam.”
He called upon President Johnson to redouble efforts to achieve peace.
Peaceful Pacifists During the parade, the demonstrators marched along peacefully carrying numerous signs protesting the war and identifying some of the groups of marchers.
Most of the spectators went about their shopping business after brief glances at the parade. Here and there along the route were groups of young men who carried signs saying “We support our men in Viet Nam” and shouting “We hate communists” and “we want Rockwell.” This was a reference to George Lincoln Rockwell, head ot the American Nazi party.
USA. Wisconsin. Madison. October 18, 1967. “Dirty Fascist!” An enraged University of Wisconsin student yells at a policeman after Madison police used riot clubs and tear gas to break up an anti-war protest. Dozens of persons, including policemen, were injured in the rioting.
Douglas Robinson, The New York Times, 16 April 1967
Thousands of antiwar demonstrators marched through the Streets of Manhattan yesterday and then massed in front of the United Nations building to hear United States policy In Vietnam denounced.
The Police Department’s office of Community Relations said that police, off leers at the scene estimated the number of demonstrators outside the United Nations at “between 100,000 and 125,000.”
It was difficult to make any precise count because people were continually leaving and entering the rally area. It was also almost Impossible to distinguish the demonstrators from passersby and spectators.
On Friday the police had announced that they were preparing for a crowd of 100,000 to 400,000.
Leaders of Parade It was the largest peace demonstration staged in New York since the Vietnam war began. It took four hours for all the marchers to leave Central Park for the United Nations Plaza.
The parade was led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Benjamin Spock, the pediatrician, and Harry Belafonte, the singer, as well as several other civil rights and religious figures, all of whom linked arms as they moved out of the park at the head of the line.
The marchers—who had poured into New York on chartered buses, trains and cars from cities as far away as Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago—included housewives from Westchester, students and poets from the Lower East Side, priests and nuns, doctors, businessmen and teachers.
Chant From Youths As they began trooping out of Central Park toward Fifth Avenue, some of the younger demonstrators chanted: “Hell no, we won’t go,“ and “Hey, Hey, L. B. J., How Many Kids Did You Kill Today.”
Most of the demonstrators, however, marched silently as they passed equally silent crowds of onlookers. At several points—notably Central Park South from the—Avenue of the Americas to Fifth Avenue—the sidewalks were swarming with onlookers. Other blocks were almost deserted.
Some of the marchers were , hit with eggs and red paint. At 47th Street and Park Avenue, several demonstrators were struck by steel rods from a building under construction. Some plastic cups filled with sand barely missed another group. There were no serious injuries.
At least five persons were arrested for disorderly conduct. Three youths were taken into custody when they tried to rush a float that depicted the Statue of Liberty.
The demonstration here and a similar One in San Francisco were sponsored by the Spring Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, a loose confederation of leftwing, pacifist and moderate antiwar groups;
A few minutes before 11 AM, an hour before the parade started, about 70 young men gathered on an outcropping of rock in the southeast comer of the Sheep Meadow in Central Park to bum their draft cards. They were quickly joined by others, some of whom appeared to have decided to join in on the spot.
Hard to Check The demonstrators said that nearly 200 cards were burned, although in the chanting, milling throng it was impossible to get an accurate count or to tell whether all the papers burned were draft cards.
Surrounded by a human chain that kept out hundreds of onlookers, the demonstrators first clustered In small groups around cigarette lighters, then sat down and passed cards up to a youth holding a flaming coffee cam Cheers and chants of “Resist, Resist,” went up as small white cards—many of which were passed hand to hand from outside the circle—caught fire.
Many of the demonstrators carried or wore daffodils and chanted “Flower Power.”
It was the first large draft-card, burning in the protests against the war in Vietnam, although groups of up to a dozen had publicly burned their cards.
Among the group yesterday was a youth in the uniform, jump boots and green beret of the Army Special Forces, whose name tag said “Rader.” He identified himself as Gary Rader of Evanston, Ill., and said he had served a year and a half of active duty as a reservist.
Like the rest of the demonstrators, the card burners were a mixed group. Most were of college age, and Included bearded, button-wearing hippies, earnest students in tweed coats and ties, and youths who fitted in neither category.
There were a number of girls who burned half of their husband’s or boy friend’s draft cards while the men burned the other half. Among the burners were a sprinkling of older men, including several veterans and the Rev. Thomas Hayes of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.
Last week the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held unconstitutional a law passed in 1965 banning draft-card burning under pain of a maximum 5-year sentence and a $10,000; fine; Two convictions under the law, however, have been upheld by United States Courts of Appeals in the Second and Eighth Circuits.
Vietcong Flags Raised In his speech at the United Nations rally, Dr. King repeatedly called on the United States to “honor its word0 and “stop the bombing of North Vietnam.”
“I would like to urge students from colleges all over the nation to use this summer and coming summers educating and organizing communities across the nation against war,” Dr. King told the crowd.
Before making his speech, the minister and a five-man delegation presented a formal note to Dr. Ralph Bunche, Undersecretary for Special Political Affairs at the United Nations.
The note said: “We rally at the United Nations in order to affirm support of the principals of peace, universality, equal rights and self-determination of peoples embodied in the Charter and acclaimed by mankind, but violated by the United States.” The demonstrators began to assemble in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow early in the morning.
On one grassy knoll, a group calling itself the United States Committee to Aid the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam built a 40-foot high tower of black cardboard tubing. They then attached a number of Liberation Front (Vietcong) flags, of blue and red with a gold star in the center.
At 12:20 P.M., the parade stepped off from Central Park South and the Avenue of the Americas, with Dr. King and the other leaders in the vanguard. They were surrounded by a group of parade marshals who linked hands to shield them from possible violence. From the hundreds of people lining the route of march came expressions of anger or support.
“I think it’s terrible, ” said Carl Hoffman, an engineer from Hartford, who stood at the corner where the march began.
Nearby, 20-year-old Estelle Klein, an office manager from Queens, gazed at the students, nuns, businessmen, veterans and doctors marching by and said: “I’d be out there too, but I don’t know, I just don’t think it’ll do any good.”
As the demonstrators moved east on 59th Street, they encountered bands of youths carrying American flags and hoisting placards with such slogans as “Bomb Hanoi” and “Dr. Spock Smokes Bananas.”
The bands of youths ran along the sidewalks paralleling the line of march, calling insults at the demonstrators.
Along one stretch of high-rise apartment houses on Lexington Avenue, eggs were dumped from a number of windows and many marchers had their clothes stained with red paint tossed by persons behind police barricades.
Guests Peer Out From the windows of the Barbizon-Plaza Hotel the Plaza and the St. Moritz, guests—a few still in pajamas—peered from their rooms at the throng moving out of the park. Most of these watchers neither applauded nor heckled.
Although the demonstrators were supposed to follow a line of march set up by the police, several thousand members of the Harlem contingent broke away and marched down Seventh Avenue through Times Square.
Several fistfights broke out in Times Square between angry motorists caught in a huge traffic jam and the paraders.
At 42d Street and Second Avenue, a fight broke out between several spectators and 19-year-old Edward Katz of Manhattan. Mr. Katz said later that he was trying to get to his car with his wife and baby when “a group of anti-peace people started knocking over the baby carriage.”
By 4 P.M., the last of the marchers had moved out of Central Park, leaving it looking like at disaster area. The paths and roadways were covered with litter.
There were several floats in the parade, including one on which Pete Seeger, the folk singer, rode with a number :of children. They sang folk songs like “This Land Is Your Land” as they rolled along the line of march.
Most of the marchers carried signs that had been authorized and printed by the Spring Mobilization Committee. Among the slogans were “Stop the Bombing,0 “No Vietnamese Ever Called Me Nigger’! and, “Children Are Not Born to Burn.”
There were many unauthorized banners and placards, however. One, a bed sheet carried by three young men, bore in large black letters the words, “Ho Chi Minh is a Virgin.”
A minor scuffle between the police and the peace marchers broke out at 3 P.M. on the south side of 42d Street just west of First Avenue when some marchers tried to turn north.
Patrolmen, on foot moved into the crowd, trying to push them into line. Other policemen on horseback charged into the throng and helped turn the marchers back. Nearby, counter-demonstrators screamed: “Kill them, kill them.”
The speeches at the United Nations did not, start until after 2 P.M. While the demonstrators waited, filling the plaza from 47th to 42d Streets, they were entertained by folk singers.
An overflow crowd filled the side-streets west of First Avenue. More than 2,000 policemen were on hand at the United Nations to keep order, and to separate demonstrators from counter-demonstrators.
‘Be-in’ at the Park A “be-in” of several thousand young men and women preceded the start of the parade. They gathered on a rock but-cropping in the southeast corner of the Sheep Meadow, dancing and singing to the music of guitars, flutes and drums.
Many of the young people had painted their faces and legs with poster paint. The sweet smell of cooking bananas hung over the group.
Unidentified demonstrators set fire to an American flag held up on a flagstaff in the park before the march began, the police said. No arrests were made in connection with the incident.
After leaving Dr. Bundle’s office at the United Nations, Dr. King told newsmen that the “demonstration was “just a beginning of a massive outpouring of concern and protest activity against this illegal and unjust war.”
The speeches ended soon after 5 P.M. when a downpour drenched the plaza, converting it into a field of soggy clothing, peeling placards and deep puddles.
The rally area was almost completely deserted by 6:30, except for crews from the Sanitation Department who were cleaning up a mountain; of debris.
Speakers at the rally, in addition to Dr. King, included Floyd McKissick, national secretary of the Congress of Racial Equality, and Stokely Carmichael, leader of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee.
Mr. Carmichael, who spoke against background shouts of “black power,” described the United States’ presence in Vietnam as “brutal and racist,” and declared that he was against “drafting young men, particularly young black Americans.”
Mr. McKissick called for the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and predicted that the turnout of marchers would bring “some positive, action” from Washington.
The Rev. James Bevel, who was national director of Spring Mobilization, said he would give President Johnson “one month to stop murdering those folks in Vietnam.”
“That’s all we’ll give him, one month to pull those guns^out,” Mr. Bevel said with his fists upraised. “If he doesn’t, we’ll close down New York City.” He did not elaborate.
Before leaving Central Park, Mr. Belafonte told newsmen that he was participating in the demonstration because “the war in Vietnam—like all wars—is immoral.”