This entry is better handled as a timeline, since the events leading up to the shooting carry a lot of weight in regards to what happened.
- April 30, 1970: President Richard Nixon announced to the country that the “Cambodian Incursion” had started (the U.S. was at war with Vietnam at the time).
- May 1, 1970: A demonstration of 500 students protested the “Cambodian Incursion” at Kent State University in the morning hours. The crowd dispersed in the early afternoon to attend classes, but planned to have another rally on the 4th. There was widespread anger on the campus. That night, vandalism began occurring in the town of Kent. Starting around midnight, 120 people threw bottles at police cars and destroyed storefronts, prompting the entirety of Kent’s police department being called to duty. The crowds began to grow and a bonfire was lit, prompting Kent PD to tear gas the crowd, forcing them back to the campus.
- May 2, 1970: Business owners and city officials began receiving threats and rumors began to circulate that “radical revolutionaries” were in Kent to destroy the town and the university. Mayor LeRoy Satrom met with city officials and a representative from the Ohio Army National Guard. Satrom then phoned Ohio Governor Jim Rhodes, asking for approval to bring the National Guard to Kent. Governor Rhodes agreed. That night, when National Guard troops arrived in the town around 10 p.m., a large demonstration was already underway at Kent State, where the campus ROTC building was on fire, much to the delight of the protesters. More tear gas was used by police and firefighters who were being pelted with rocks, and at least one student was wounded with a bayonet.
- May 3, 1970: During a press conference, Governor Rhodes referred to the protesters as “un-American” and “revolutionaries” bent on “destroying higher education in Ohio.” He further said they were “the worst type of people we harbor in America” and that he wasn’t going to take over the campus, because he thought they were “up against the strongest, well-trained, militant, revolutionary group ever assembled in America.” Meanwhile, Mayor Satrom ordered a curfew to be put in effect. Around 8:00 p.m., another rally was held in the commons area of the campus, and forty-five minutes later, National Guardsmen tear gassed the crows. The participants of the rally reconvened at the intersection of Lincoln and Main, having a sit-in until they were able to meet with Mayor Satrom and university president Robert White. At 11 p.m., the curfew went into effect and National Guardsmen began forcing students back to their dorms, bayonetting a few in the process.
- May 4, 1970: Despite the universities attempt to ban the event, an estimated 2,000 people attended the noon rally that had been planned three days prior. National Guardsmen once again appeared to disperse the crowd. The legality of this dispersal has been subject to controversy. At 12:24 p.m., Sgt. Myron Pryor opened fire on the students, prompting a group of National Guardsmen near Pryor to do the same. Despite the length of time it took for the 67 rounds to be fired, which is another subject of great controversy in the incident, four students were killed and nine others were wounded. Sandra Scheuer and William Knox Shroeder weren’t even part of the protest; they were just walking to their next class. The students who survived the shooting were ready to attack the National Guardsmen, but were talked down by several faculty members.
The Kent State Shootings
(Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, William Knox Shroeder, 9 wounded)
May 4, 1970