On Monday, May 4, 1970, in Ohio 2,000 Kent State university students gathered to protest the Vietnam war. Along with university campuses nation-wide in the days leading up to the May 4 protest, the student population had become increasingly disruptive in their anti-war demonstrations — actually burning the campus’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) building to the ground one day prior to the shootings. Kent State’s Mayor anticipated a large protest on May 4 and declared a state of emergency, asking that the National Guard come to Kent State to maintain order during the student protest.
When the National Guard asked the student to leave the demonstration, they were met with refusal — leading them to volley tear gas into the crowds. When the tear gas didn’t work, the National guardsmen forced students to retreat, threatening them with the bayonets on their rifles. At some point, students approached the group of riflemen. While details of the chain of events are still fuzzy, the National Guard opened fire on the crowd of students killing four and wounding eight others. Two of the students killed weren’t protesting, but walking from one class to the next. William Schroeder, Sandra Scheuer, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause lost their lives that day protesting a war half a world away.
Photographs of the shooting sparked immediate and outraged reactions across North America, leading to massive protests on college campuses across the United States and Canada and causing over 450 university campuses to close with both violent and non-violent demonstrations.
Watch the documentary video below for an interesting look at Kent State and its significance.