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Kent State Massacre Essay

Allison Krause was a nineteen-year-old honour student at Kent State. She was quiet and almond-eyed. She was known to the people around her as a listener and not a talker. She and her boyfriend, Barry Levine, were among the innocent spectators caught in the shootings on that dreadful day. Allison was known for putting a flower into a guardsman’s rifle and saying. “Flowers are better than bullets, Is dissent a crime?” Allison was 350ft. away from the guardsmen that were firing upon the students. She was shot in her arm and through her chest. (Canfora p.1-3)

William K. Schroeder was a nineteen-year-old psychology major from Loraine, Ohio. He was the second-ranking student in Kent State’s chapter of Army ROTC. He was said to be very angry and upset when the ROTC building had been burned down on May 2, 1970. William was not a protestor (like a lot of his classmates.) He was viewed as clean-cut and he had a strong academic background. William was merely a spectator at the rally that morning. ( He was 400ft. from the guardsmen who were firing their weapons. He was shot in the back. (Canfora p.1-3)

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Jeffery Miller was a twenty-year-old transfer student from Michigan State. He did not like the idea of fraternity life and found it as “adolescent nonsense.” Jeffery was not an active militant activist either. He looked like “the typical hippie.” He had long hair, wore bell-bottoms, and listened to rock music. Jeffery was a major in psychology. Jeffery was 275ft. away from the guardsmen who were firing their weapons. He was shot through his head. (Canfora p.1-3)

Sandy Scheuer was a twenty-year-old junior from Youngstown, Ohio. She was seen as a bubbly girl and was an honour student. She was also seen to be too gregarious and full of laughter to take that much interest in politics or protest. Sandy was walking to a class in speech therapy (her major) when she was caught in the guardsmen fire. She was nearly 400ft. away from the guns. She was shot through the throat. (Canfora p.1-3)

Politics played a large role in the events that occurred on May 4, 1970. A number of military and political leaders have been criticized for their involvement.

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Richard Nixon was the president at the time of the massacre. Here is a little background on his stance on foreign affairs Aiming to achieve “peace with honour” in Vietnam, Nixon gradually reduced the number of American military personnel in the country. Under his policy of Vietnamization, combat roles were transferred to South Vietnamese troops, who remained dependent on American supplies and air support. In 1970, American and South Vietnamese forces attacked North Vietnamese sanctuaries in Cambodia, causing widespread protests in the United States. One of these demonstrations–at Kent State on May 4, 1970–ended tragically when soldiers of the Ohio National Guard fired into a crowd of about 2,000 protestors, killing four and wounding nine. (Canfora p.1of2)

Another military/political leader during this time was Governor James Rhodes. Governor Rhodes strongly opposed the students at Kent State gathering and peacefully protesting the invasion of Cambodia. He referred to the students as “the worst type of people we harbour in America, worse than brown shirts, and the communist element.” He also went on to say “. . . we will use whatever force necessary to drive them out of Kent.”(Canfora p 4of6)

Another military-political leader during the time of the shooting was General Robert Canterbury. He was the man in control of the National Guard throughout the days leading to and day of the shooting, He was the commanding officer that ordered the guardsmen to disperse the crowd. He was also the commanding officer presiding over the infamous Troop G. (Canfora p.3of6)

Here is a little bit of background on the days leading up to the shooting and the actual day of the shooting. This time span begins May 1, 1970 and ends on May 4t 1970 (day of the shooting.)

The story of the shooting begins when on April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon announced that there was a massive American-South Vietnamese offensive sent into Cambodia. On May 1, about 500 students gathered around the Victory Bell on the Commons. The ones who organized the protest buried a copy of the Constitution. Later that night, students gathered in downtown Kent. The students however were driven away by the police. Minimal damage was done that night. (May Day p 1of2)

On the morning of May 2 some of the KSU students assisted the downtown cleanup. The ROTC building was believed to be the next target of militant activity later in the night. A little bit after 8:00 p.m., there were about 300 people gathered on the Commons. The students started to march through dormitories so that maybe they would gain in numbers. After the trip through the dormitories, the crowd grew from 800 to 2,000 people. The students surrounded the ROTC building and then a couple of protestors set the building ablaze. Some local firemen showed up but their efforts were quickly demolished, Some of the students slashed the fire hoses, so the firemen gave up, but later they gained control of the fire and it quickly died out. After the fire was extinguished, it was started again.

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The firemen arrived with policemen this time and the police dispersed the crowd with tear gas. The students then moved to the front of the campus but to their amazement, they saw the Ohio National Guard arrives. After the students retreated to the hillside beside the Commons, they were met with guardsmen with tear gas and bayonets. At least one student was bayoneted. (May Day p.1of2)

May 3 was much calmer than the previous two days. But at this time the campus was full of the Ohio National Guard. Ohio’s governor James Rhodes arrived in Kent this day. It was believed that Governor Rhodes was using this as a ploy to gain votes in the election that was only two days away. It was on this day that the governor delivered his “radical speech” about the protestors at KSU. He declared the protestors were out to “destroy higher education in Ohio.” He also called them “the worst type of person we harbour in America . . . “ Later that night a National Guard command told his troops that Ohio law gave them the right to shoot if necessary. Later that night, students were once again gathered on the Commons and were once again met with troops. Tear gas was fired out of helicopters onto the students. (May Day p.1of1)

May 4 was the day that the shooting happened. At about 11:00 a.m. students gathered on the Commons. As noon approached the size of the crowd grew to 1,500. A big chunk of the people were merely spectators. The troops were ordered to immediately disperse the students. Approximately 116 men gathered in a line to disperse them. Some of the students even though the tear gas canisters back at the troops. Some members of Troop G, while on the practice field, kneeled down and aimed their weapons at the students in the parking lot. General Canterbury ruled that the crowd was dispersed and ordered the men back up the hill.

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After huddling briefly, the members of Troop G turned 180 degrees, aimed, and fired their weapons into the Prentice Hall parking lot. A total of 67 shots were fired in 13 seconds. Four were killed: Allison Krause, Jeffery Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder. Nine students were injured: Joseph Lewis, John Cleary, Thomas Grace, Robbie Stamps, Donald MacKenzie, Alan Canfora, Douglas Wrentmore, James Russell, and Dean Kahler. All were full times students at Kent State University. (May Day p.3of3)

After the shootings the nation was outraged. More protests broke out nationwide. Hundreds of college campuses were shut down just days afterwards. Some deemed the shootings appropriate. Others deemed it completely unnecessary.

There was also believed to be a conspiracy going on with the Kent State Massacre. General Canterbury got on national television and told complete lies about the incident. It was also said that Governor Rhodes and President Nixon planned for this to happen. They talked twice on the phone leading up to the massacre. The investigation afterwards was not thorough. The court did not try to get to the bottom of the massacre. Kent State University was also completely insensitive to the massacre (Canfora p 1of6)

The events and facts above gave an accurate account of the Kent State Massacre. Hopefully, it sheds some light on the story of the Kent State Massacre.

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