Kent State shootings
The Kent State shootings
occurred at Kent State University
, and involved the shooting of students by the National Guard
on May 4
. Students were protesting against American involvement in the Vietnam War
; the demonstrations had arisen in response to the invasion of Cambodia
that President Richard Nixon
launched on May 1
. The Ohio state governor had ordered the National Guard
onto campus in response to the burning of the ROTC
building by arsonists the previous day. The militia
were wearing gas masks in the hot sun (obscuring their vision and causing heat exhaustion) and had little training in riot
The National Guard was on campus for hours, clashing several times with protestors. The National Guard fired tear gas cannisters and some students threw rocks in response. At one point, the Guardsmen fired a volley of rifle fire. Only one of the four students killed was participating in the protest. Ironically one of the students killed, William Schroeder, who was not even involved in the demonstration, was a member of the campus ROTC chapter. Several other students were also wounded in the shooting.
Killed were Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder. A monument to their memory was erected on the campus near the site where they died. A photograph of a 14-year-old runaway girl, identified as Mary Vecchio, kneeling over Jeffrey Miller's body as she cried, is one of the most enduring images of the tragedy, and it won a Pulitzer Prize for photographer John Filo.
The shootings led to protests on college campuses throughout the United States, causing many campuses to close because of both violent and non-violent demonstrations.
On May 14 of the same year, two students at Jackson State University were shot to death and several others wounded under much more questionable circumstances.
Neil Young of the Folk-rock group Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young quickly wrote and recorded a protest song in reaction to the shootings called Ohio. The song starts with:
- Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
- We're finally on our own.
- This summer I hear the drummin'.
- Four dead in Ohio.
The shootings are also mentioned in Allen Ginsberg
's poem "Hadda be Playin' on a Jukebox