Kent State Shootings: A Timeline of the Tragedy

On May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard attempting to disperse a crowd of student demonstrators at Kent State University opened fire, killing four students and injuring nine others.

More than any other event, the shootings in Kent State would become the focal point of the bitter divisions in progress between the Americans during the Vietnam War. The deadly explosion marked the culmination of several days of clashes between law enforcement and demonstrators, which began after President Richard M. Nixon announced on a television show that he had authorized the troops to invade Cambodia.

Nixon’s decision, which extended the Vietnam War to a time when the United States was in the The troop withdrawal process immediately sparked anti-war protests in colleges across the country, including Kent State.

Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia triggers protests

May 1, 1970

Around noon the day after Nixon’s speech, some 500 students and teachers from Kent State gathered on the Commons, a large grassy area in the middle of the campus. They bury a copy of the Constitution to symbolize Nixon’s “murder” of constitutional principles by invading Cambodia without declaring war or consulting Congress. A second rally this afternoon also ends peacefully.

This Friday evening, a crowd of drunken protesters is forming in the center of Kent and begins to taunt the local police and break some shop windows. All of the city’s police are mobilizing, forcing the protesters to return to campus after the mayor of Ohio, LeRoy Satrom, declared a state of emergency. Things finally calmed down at 2:30 a.m.

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