This Day in History: 40th Anniversary of the Kent State Massacreby Stephen Littau
From the Progressive/Left-wing DemocracyNow.org’s coverage:
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State Shootings. On May 4th, 1970, National Guardsmen opened fire on hundreds of unarmed students at an antiwar rally at Kent State University in Ohio. The guardsmen fired off at least 67 shots in roughly 13 seconds. Four students were killed and nine others wounded.
The events of May 4, 1970 at Kent State were certainly tragic but the notion that the Nation Guardsmen fired at “unarmed” students engaging in peaceful demonstrations is plainly untrue. In fact these “peace” protesters failed to practice what they preached as they set fires, looted, vandalized cars and buildings, and threw rocks and bottles at the police/National Guardsmen who tried to restore order. These anti-war protesters certainly didn’t practice the Libertarian “non-initiation of force” principle as they, like the U.S. government initiated force to attempt to accomplish a political goal.*
However, sending in the National Guard complete with semiautomatic M1 Garand rifles (.30-06 FMJ rounds) with fixed bayonets to suppress these riots seems to be a bit of an overreaction on the part of the governor.** The methods used to suppress these violent protests were very different from the less lethal methods police use today (which some say is a direct result of this event).
Were the National Guardsmen’s deadly actions justified self-defense? A full 40 years later, this is still a subject of great debate.
One thing which isn’t debatable is that this event was tragic and preventable.
*In the case of the Johnson and Nixon administrations, the political goal was ostensibly to stop the spread of Communism in Vietnam and Cambodia; the political goal of the student anti-war protesters at Kent State was to turn public opinion against the Vietnam War in-general and Nixon’s announcement of the U.S. invasion into Cambodia specifically.
**It’s not too difficult to draw parallels between this event and those of the famed “Boston Massacre” just prior to the American Revolution.