Protestors at Kent State

April 15, 1970 was a nationwide anti-draft action day. Here in Dayton, there was a sit-in at the local draft board of about 35 people. At Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, there was an anti-draft peace rally. At the end of the rally a student speech pronounced that “it was not enough to protest the war, but people had to take action!” At that point, they marched over and occupied the Navy ROTC building. Later the black students who were organizing for a black studies program and an increase in black enrollment joined the occupation. Over 300 students were arrested, making national news and rocking Ohio.

With the announcement of the invasion of Cambodia, protests occurred across the country with major protests at Ohio State and Ohio University. The week before the Kent State killings, over 1,000 students were arrested at Ohio State University protesting the war and black students there were also demanding a black studies program.

During the spring of 1970, the Nixon administration orchestrated the overthrow of the Cambodian government, setting up a military dictatorship and paving the way for a US invasion. After 11 years of war in Vietnam, the American people were growing weary of the cost in lives and money. Across the country, student protests had increased both in numbers and militancy.                                                  

At Kent State, there was a sharp confrontation between police and student protestors. On Saturday night May 2nd, an unknown arsonist burned the Army ROTC building to the ground. Ohio Governor James Rhodes called out the National Guard and on May 4, they fired into unarmed protesters killing four students and wounding nine others, some were protestors and some were not. Across the US, campuses and communities erupted into massive protests against the war, the draft, and the shootings at Kent State. Hundreds of college campuses were shut down as students went on strike, the largest student strike in US history.

In Mississippi, two black students were killed the next week at Jackson State. Black and white students united in calling for black studies courses, more minority enrollment at colleges, and opposition to the war.

US wars continue throughout the Middle East and Africa. Billions of dollars are being squandered in this quagmire. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, two of the longest wars in our history. American foreign policy is aimed at making the world safe for US corporations.  

May 4th is the 50th Anniversary of the shootings at Kent State University. We are asking people here in Ohio and across the country join in four minutes of silence at noon on May 4th to remember Kent State, Jackson State, and all the victims of our unjust wars. People can make a peace poster to hold or place in front of their home or apartments. Creative art projects for peace are needed. Please help spread the word on this important effort and join online in the many efforts to end our current wars. Join us on May 4th.

We need to build a massive peace movement to stand up to Trump and the WAR Machine.