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The Horrific Crime of the University of Kent (1970)

New York._ When university campus across the United States are boiling nowadays with protests against pro-Zionist fascism and the Israeli bloody war on Palestine Gaza, people remember the massacre of students at the University of Kent that took place on May 4, 1970.

By Jose Oro*

Four Kent State University students were killed and nine others were wounded on May when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a crowd gathered to protest Washington’s unjust war against Vietnam.

The tragedy marked a milestone for a nation divided by conflict in Southeast Asia. In the immediate aftermath, a student-led strike forced the temporary closure of colleges and universities across the U.S.

The fascist crimes of that day in northeastern Ohio even tilted public opinion against the war and contributed to the complete discrediting and downfall of President Richard M. Nixon.

The Vietnam War

Brutal U.S. aggression against Vietnam and its people had been rejected from its inception, and a significant segment of the general public in the United States was

against the presence of U.S. Armed Forces in Indochina.

Protests across the United States during the second half of the 1960s were part of organized opposition to U.S. military activities in Southeast Asia, as well as against

forced military conscription.

In fact, Richard M. Nixon had been elected president in 1968 largely because of his promise to end aggression against the brotherly Vietnamese people. Until April 1970, it seemed that Nixon was more or less on track to fulfill that campaign promise in some way, when military operations dwindled modestly, limited withdrawals of invading troops occurred, and progress was being made in the Paris negotiations that led to the January 1973 Peace Agreement.

However, on April 30, 1970, President Nixon ordered U.S. troops to invade neutral Kampuchea without notifying his Secretary of State, William Rogers, or Secretary of

Defense Melvin Laird. They, along with the rest of the American people, learned of the invasion when President Nixon addressed the nation on television two days later.

Members of Congress accused the president of illegally expanding the scope of U.S. involvement in the war by failing to receive their consent by vote. Fascism is like that, let’s not get confused. It was the angry popular reaction to Nixon’s sabotage of peace that led to the events at Kent State University in Ohio.

At Kent State, these protests began on May 1, the day after the invasion. Hundreds of students gathered at the “Commons”, an open space in the center of the University that had been the scene of large demonstrations and other events in the past. A number of speakers spoke out against the war in general, and President Nixon in particular.

That night there were reports of violent clashes between students and local police. Reinforcements were called in from neighboring communities and Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom declared a state of emergency before ordering the closure of all bars in the city.

Satrom also reached out to Ohio State Governor James Rhodes for help. The next day, Saturday, May 2, the Ohio National Guard was sent to Kent (National

Guard members were already in the region, so they were mobilized very quickly). With nearly 1,000 National Guardsmen at the school, the scene looked more like a war zone than a college campus.

On Monday, May 4, once again in the House of Commons, university officials attempted to defuse the situation by banning the event. Still, students began gathering around

11:00 local time, and about 3,000 protesters gathered there.

That May 4 protest, during which activists spoke out against the National Guard’s presence on campus and against the Vietnam War, was initially peaceful. Still, Ohio National Guard Gen. Robert Canterbury ordered protesters to disperse, and the announcement was made by a University of Kent police officer riding in a military jeep and using a megaphone to be heard above the crowd.

The demonstrators refused to disperse. General Canterbury ordered his men to close ranks and load their guns and fire tear gas into the crowd. Witnesses counted 28 National Guardsmen who suddenly turned

and fired their M-1 rifles, some in the air, others directly into the crowd of protesters.

In just 13 seconds, almost 70 shots were fired in total. In all, four Kent State students — Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Schroeder and Sandra Scheuer — were killed and nine others were injured. Schroeder was shot in the back, as were two of the wounded, Robert Stamps and Dean Kahler.

They were not members of any minority or of any radical party or group, white, upper-middle class,

murdered just for being decent and dignified people.

Numerous commissions of inquiry and “judicial” acts followed, during which members of the Ohio National Guard testified that they felt the need to fire their weapons because they feared for their lives, which was “accepted” by the judges despite hundreds of pieces of evidence against them.

The Kent massacre remains a symbol of the American people” confrontation with the war in general and the war in Vietnam at the time. Many believe that the ultimate reason for this murder was to try to permanently intimidate the protest movement of the American people, fostering a sense of disillusionment with what exactly these demonstrations accomplish, as well as fears about the possibility of a confrontation between the protesters and the forces of “order”. That is to say, tasks of completely fascist conception and execution.

Fifty-four years after Kent’s crime, the students are back to campuses demanding the immediate cessation of the Gaza massacre and the non-support for Netanyahu and the Zionist state.

Demonstrations are echoing off U.S. college campuses as tensions escalated around Israel’s military actions in Gaza. The night of May 1 was marked by widespread arrests

in New York and a disturbing attack by fascist and pro-Zionist protesters in California.

In New York City, NYPD reported 282 arrests at Columbia University and the City College of New York from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning, but there are rumors

of nearly 500 arrests. This repression unfolded when the city’s police forces (not the university police) forcibly expelled students who had occupied Columbia University’s

Hamilton Hall since April 30.

Hamilton Hall, previously synonymous with activism during South Africa’s struggle against apartheid, earned a new nickname: “Hind’s Hall”, in memory of six-year-old Hind Rajab, tragically murdered with her family by Israeli forces in Gaza.

Meghnad Bose, a journalism student at Columbia University, said she witnessed the police intervention firsthand. “I saw firsthand how the police dispersed those protests, arrested them, and sometimes became very violent to make sure the protesters left”.

Kaz Daughtry, deputy commissioner of operations for the NYPD, in a post on X, highlighted Columbia University’s request for police assistance to reclaim its campus, without which the metropolis’ police forces cannot act at the university. He said police

were “dispersing the illegal encampment and people barricaded inside university buildings and restoring order”.

Meanwhile, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), tensions rose as counter-Zionist protesters clashed with pro-Palestinian protesters. Witnesses reported that the assailants had attempted to dismantle the pro-Palestinian camp, resorting to

violence by throwing objects and wielding sticks.

Sergio Olmos, an investigative journalist reporting from UCLA, observed the chaotic scene as counter-protesters engaged in very violent behavior. He detailed his efforts to dismantle the pro-Palestinian camp, including throwing glass bottles and handling sticks

and rods. No pro-Zionists were arrested, surprise!

The Los Angeles Police Department responded to the escalating violence at UCLA at the university’s request, addressing multiple incidents of aggression within the camp. Despite the turmoil, the pro-Palestinian camp at UCLA persisted, and student protesters stood firm against the attacks. Rob Reynolds, reporting from Los Angeles, highlighted the resilience of protesters amid the brutal assault.

The increase in protests on U.S. campuses is due to Israel’s protracted military campaign in Gaza, which causes staggering Palestinian civilian casualties on a daily basis, mostly women, children and the elderly.

The recent wave of demonstrations gained momentum nearly two weeks earlier, sparked by Columbia University President Minouche Shafik’s testimony before a U.S.

congressional committee. Critics accused Shafik of prioritizing the interests of lawmakers over those of the university’s students.

Amid a series of demands, protesters called for divestment from Israel and companies associated with the conflict. They denounced the administrators for allegedly exploiting public safety concerns and weaponizing accusations of anti-Semitism to stifle dissent.

The wave of arrests spread beyond New York, with 14 protesters detained at Tulane University in New Orleans, in addition to arrests at the University of South Florida and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The protests drew international attention, with Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, condemning the violent police response at U.S. universities. He denounced the actions as a reflection of a dystopian reality and

called for an end to the ongoing genocide.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Karen Bass condemned police violence at UCLA as abhorrent and unforgivable. The mayor of New York City, the African-American Eric Adams,

defended the police repression and attributed the protests at Columbia University to people not affiliated with the institution, which is completely false, but its main political contributors are Jewish billionaires and in English the phrase “money talks” is used.

The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), on the other hand, criticized both the NYPD and the chancellor of Columbia University for their handling of the situation. Stefanie Fox, the group’s executive director, drew parallels between the university’s current actions and

its past oppression of student activism during the Vietnam War and apartheid-era South Africa.

New York Mayor Eric Adams (Democrat) supports the Palestinians and supports Zionism, Stefanie Fox, leader of the Jewish Voice for Peace, supports the Palestinian

cause and calls for an end to the genocide in Gaza. Photos from CBS In the state of Connecticut, hundreds of students from Yale Universities in the State of

Connecticut have been arrested. On Saturday the 4th, a peaceful demonstration of many thousands of protesters, students and various progressive movements will take

place, commemorating the anniversary of the Kent massacre in 1970 and demanding an end to the genocide in Gaza.

At any moment a misfortune will occur, repressive or fascist forces of MAGA will start firing and situations of the most extreme gravity will be reached in the United States, whose supposedly "democratic" government vetoes any initiative for peace in the UN

Security Council, denies all rights to the Palestinian people, while rewarding the government of the fascist Netanyahu with a $26 billion military aid package.

*The author is a political analysts who resides in New York City and often writes for Prensa Latina.

mh/jo

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