The May 4, 1970, shootings at Kent State University came after then President Richard Nixon ordered an invasion of Cambodia, escalating the conflict with Vietnam and leading to massive protests outside the university. Four students were killed in the shooting, by Ohio National Guard troops.
On April 30, 1970, Nixon announced on national television the decision to allow an armed incursion in Cambodia, and the next day, protests broke out across university campuses in the United States.
On Friday May 1, 1970, at Ohio’s Kent State University, a large group of students gathered at the Commons on the campus to peacefully protest against the war in Vietnam and against Nixon’s decision of an armed invasion in Cambodia.
Some 1,000 Ohio National Guardsmen were deployed at the protest site, where the confrontations between student protesters and the police were critically tense.
A Kent State University student lies on the ground after National Guardsman fired into a crowd of demonstrators on May 4, 1970 in Kent, Ohio. (AP Photo)
The tension continued for four days until Monday, May 4, when the number of protesters increased to about 3,000. At noon that day, the Guardsmen opened fire at the protesters, killing four and wounding nine.
The Kent State shootings had significant impacts nationwide, bringing hundreds of college students to the streets and shutting down more than 500 colleges.
Until today the Kent State shootings remain a symbol of the Vietnam War’s impact on Americans.
And though there have been efforts to prevent another such incident, they have failed: with police shooting unarmed civilians, igniting protests in violence in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland.