May 4, 1970: 49 years later at Kent State

Photo: Kent State Library
Photo: Kent State Library
Updated: May. 4, 2019 at 8:31 AM EDT
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KENT, OH (WOIO) - Saturday, May 4 marks 49 years since four students were killed by the Ohio National Guardsmen at Kent State University.

Protests throughout the city of Kent began on April 30 after President Richard Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Kent Mayor Leroy Satrom declared a state of emergency because of the continuous protests in the city.

The national guardsmen arrived in Kent the evening of May 2 after Ohio Governor James Rhodes ordered in assistance to calm the protesters.

By that time, protesters had already set fire to the university’s ROTC building.

On the morning of May 4, an estimated 3000 people were on Kent State’s campus protesting.

The strongest weapon the students had were rocks, throwing them at the guardsmen.

General Robert Canterbury ordered his men to fire tear gas into the crowd and move up Blanket Hill towards the protesters.

When the guardsmen reached the top of Blanket Hill, they fired 70 shots at unarmed students in just 13 seconds.

Kent State students- Allison Krause, Jeffery Miller, Sandra Scheuer and William Schroeder were killed. 9 others were injured.

After numerous investigatory commissions and court trials, no member of the Ohio National Guard was ever charged.

The May 4 Visitors Center offers an experience of a 3-exhibit series of pre-1970, May 4, 1970 and a legacy gallery. The facility also has a temporary exhibit on William Schroeder, part of a 4-part series honoring all four students killed.

“As we think about the 50th [anniversary next year], we can also tell the story of our healing, our journey of Kent State recognizing the shootings of what happened here,” said Mindy Farmer, Director of the May 4 Visitors Center.

Farmer said the Visitors Center also offers educational programs and shows May 4 related films, including Fire in the Heartland.

“This is a space that’s active and alive," said Farmer, “where you can often meet people who remember the day, who were here.”

Vincent Mintus was a freshman at Kent State in 1970. On that day, he we was a bystander more than a participant.

“It was my first year away from home," said Mintus, “I was also concerned about the war in Vietnam."

"I don’t know if it stopped the war but it made people pay attention.”

An annual candlelight vigil and walk was held Friday, May 3. On Saturday, May 4, the university bookstore will feature authors who wrote about May 4, 1970 starting at 10 a.m.

“It follows you. It still to this day follows me," said Mintus.

Bob Woodward, the Washington Post investigative journalist who was the original reporter on the Watergate scandal will speak at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Athletics and Convocation Center as part of the Presidential Speaker Series.

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