KSU Students Under Attack (May 2 – 4)


“Many of the Guardsmen are from towns such as Ravenna, 20 miles east of Akron, and Orrville and Wooster, 25 miles to the southwest. Indeed, all of Troop G, of the 107th Armored Cavalry Regiment—whose members were responsible for most of the firing—are from Ravenna. A Guard officer says, if you had to categorize them, the 107th would be composed of men from a rural background. Many of the Guardsmen were strongly critical of the student demonstrations. Says 1st Lt. Roy W. Dew of G Troop of the 107th: ‘I feel it had to come to an end sometime. These kids just don’t understand. They’re 19-20-21-year kids and they just want to run the country’.”
–Akron Beacon Journal newspaper, special report, May 24, 1970.


“…a US Army major now stationed at the US Military Academy, Professor Maury Baker, got this interesting response: …the officers at the Academy had been discussing the hostility of the National Guardsmen, many of them ‘drop-outs’, to college students, as a contributing factor in what happened.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“…a different witness thinks that the very youth of the Guardsmen made them a volatile group, more reactive to the crowd. He describes the line of National Guard stretched across Portage Drive about the time of the shootings: ‘The general impression …was that it looked very young and very angry, or, at least, not about to condone any disorder…obviously very concerned with the crowd. One man, particularly caught my eye because of a look of intense hatred on his face’. Was this the particular Guardsman the one, also stationed along Portage Drive, whom another student reports hearing exclaim, when the firing near Taylor Hall began, ‘Shoot the hairy sons-of-b_____!’”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“By Monday [May 4, 1970], the cordoned-off areas, campus curfews, rumors of Guard bayonetings and intended entry into dorms, girl-chasing by the Guard, and harassment of long-haired individuals had led to a feeling of occupation…and the situation was growing worse instead of better’.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“It was at this time the firing began. I had not heard an order to fire. As I turned around most of our troops were in a kneeling position and were firing. The firing was on my side close to Taylor Hall and was spreading to the Johnson Hall side. This was the same area that General Canterbury and Major Jones were in. I heard the order cease fire and was passing them on. Many troopers had to be shoulder shaken to make them aware. Many students were on the ground, many had taken cover there as the shooting started. I did not see any students hit but observed one demonstrator [Joseph Lewis, Jr.] lying in front of Taylor Hall with blood around his hip area.”
–Troop G Captain Raymond Srp, statement, May, 1970.


“I was facing the rioters I heard shots on my left. A big man with something in his hand charged our position. [ALAN’S NOTE: the closest student was Joe Lewis, 60 feet distant] At this time, all rioters were falling to the ground and running to the sides. Me and many other officers yelled sense fire and firing immediately halted. Many people got up and ran but several did not. They were instantly covered by the rioters. We went back to our original positions.
–Second Lieutenant Alexander D. Stevenson, Troop G, Ohio National Guard, statement, May 4, 1970.


“To my right and front was Taylor Hall. A shot was fired followed very closely by a volley type series of shots. I saw three or four guardsmen firing from a standing position in the direction of the parking lot on the side of Prentice Hall. Immediately I ordered several guardsmen to stop firing. I knocked one rifle into the air. During the firing period, I noticed one rioter [KSU student Joseph Lewis, Jr.,] lying directly in front of me and slightly back from the corner of the building (Taylor) holding his gut. He was going through convulsive movements and blood was seeping from between his arms. A girl rioter had dropped to her knees by the head of the fallen student…Another rioter was scrambling for cover or was shot underneath two or three evergreens.
–“Statement of Lt. Ralph G. Tucker, H, 2/107 AC”, statement, May, 1970.


“A short time later I saw the troops backing to the ridge of the hill…When they reached the ridge the firing was instantious (sic). One split second [12.53 seconds, actually] and it was all over. The troops then returned down the hill to the rope where they started.
–“Roger E. Hinton, HHT, 2/107th AC”, view from the KSU Commons, statement, May, 1970.


“The guardsmen stopped at the crest of Taylor Hill. They were faced toward the base of the hill, and toward the Taylor Hall parking lot…and then shooting started…and then a volley that lasted several seconds. At this time (while the firing was going on) students started rolling down the hill. A couple of minutes later a student came up and said “Mister there’s someone dead laying on the hill.’ (pause) ‘Honest’. A few minutes later I was ordered to move my unit out.”
–“James D. Booth Captain Troop F 2/207 AC”, view from near Memorial Gym area, statement, May, 1970.


“…a prelude to disaster is emphasized by a student who says, ‘I believe I saw the whole thing start that night [May 3, 1970].’ Certain individual guardsmen, among them officers, unquestionably behaved towards students in a provocative, belligerent and dangerous manner. The student just mentioned…says…’The Guards began to close in, trying to push everyone they saw on campus, alone or not, into one big mass of people. There were a lot of scared female students who did not want to have anything to do with this, but the Guards running down the hills of front campus yelling, “Charge!” with clubs and bayonets, caused mass hysteria…they didn’t care who you were, they were out to kill’.”
–Kent State student eyewitness, Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“’That evening’, [May 3, 1970], remarks a married graduate student, ‘helicopters beaming spotlights on the ground beneath them flew over our apartment just across the street from the eastern edge of campus, passing overhead every couple of minutes, shaking the building and upsetting our two small children’. After two o’clock on Sunday night, a student living in Prentice Hall says, ‘I fell asleep with the sound of helicopters in the air and the feeling I was in an armed camp.’”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“Still, the quality of the wakefulness would have been very different on Sunday night [May 3, 1970]. In addition to the noise of students running around, National Guardsmen chasing them, military vehicles clattering about, tear gas canisters exploding and…helicopters buzzed over the campus late into the night. All evening, in fact, they had been buzzing, and almost all our accounts make some mention of them. Mr. Amrhein, Circulation Librarian, reporting on the disturbance at the library around 9:30 o’clock, says, ‘The main unsettling feature at the time was a helicopter equipped with a searchlight which patrolled the area.’ One student describes four helicopters with large searchlights flying over Glenmorris parking lot and the University School area around 10:30.
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“A young Guardsman with whom one of our witnesses talked after the shootings made a distinction between the attitudes of young Guardsmen and those of older men: ‘…he said that most Guardsmen were college-age or older, and probably wouldn’t aim to kill unarmed students but that the older long-time gun owners and hunters would because they liked the fraternity of the National Guards so much that they often carried their own handguns in their shirts’.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“…[Ohio National Guard] officers figure as adversaries in more than one account. On Sunday evening [May 3, 1970], at some time between nine and ten o’clock, a student, together with twenty others who witnessed the same event; from the second-floor library windows facing Main was watching a group of Guardsmen drilling on the front campus. In command of the group were two officers, perhaps captains. One carried a four-foot black nightstick and wore a hard helmet, as distinguished from the fatigue hats the other guardsmen were wearing. ‘A fellow at my age (20),’ the student testifies, ‘came walking around the walk by the East Main side of the library, I guess to return a book. As he did this, he was approached by one of the two high-ranking officers, who immediately lifted his nightstick and placed it at the fellow’s nose. The officer said, ‘Get out of here!’ The fellow then apparently understood what was going on and started to walk back towards the library parking lot. As he did this, the officer took his nightstick and cracked it across the fellow’s behind loud enough that everyone on the East Main side of the library could hear the crack’…”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“A similar incident is reported by two observers as having occurred on the periphery of the Commons Sunday morning, involving a student and an officer. The student ‘…was wearing an Army fatigue jacket without any insignias or identification. At this time, an officer of the National Guard came up to him, he was carrying a walking stick, he tapped the student on the shoulder, asked him to come with him. He went perhaps 10 or 12 feet out of the group of students who were about there. He asked the student if he was ever in the Army or if he had ever been in the Army and how he got the jacket. Then he said to the student that we are a clean-cut bunch of people and we don’t like degenerates like you wearing our clothes. The entire time that he was talking to the student he kept poking at him with the stick’. The officer had two bars on his hat; this informant thinks therefore that he was a captain…described as ‘over forty years old’.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“…[Johnson Hall men’s dormitory] at approximately 11:40pm, a small patrol of Guardsmen threw two missiles through my room’s windows. I was alone in the room, trying to sleep with drawn curtains and no lights. No one else was in the area viewable from my windows. More items hit the building’. Later still, at 2am, another student was watching from his Johnson Hall window from twenty to fifty Guardsmen standing in a single line across the hill from the edge of Johnson to the front of Taylor Hall. ‘One Guardsman pointed a machine gun at me in my window. Pistols were also pointed toward open windows in Johnson Hall. Two rifle butts were swung at students who did not immediately respond to Guardsmen orders to enter Johnson Hall’.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.

“Harassments of students are numerous in our accounts of Sunday evening [May 3, 1970] and lasted late into Sunday night. Some of the things students were prohibited from doing appeared to them like pointless repression and were further irritants in an inflamed situation…one complaint: ‘we’re all suppressed [in Dunbar Hall men’s dorm]—we’re all put inside the dormitory and we weren’t allowed to cross the street to Prentice [dorm cafeteria] to eat. We hadn’t had any supper. Everything was closed off campus and they wouldn’t allow you to cross the street.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“The most serious incidents on Sunday night [May 3 night, 1970] resulting from the terrorism engaged in by some National Guardsmen were the bayonetings of the students…One of the participants in the sit-down, expressing his strong sense of betrayal when the Guard broke it up, testifies he saw one Guardsman club a student with his back turned with the butt of his rifle. ‘This same Guard…turned his rifle around and bayoneted another guy with his back turned. I was completely dumbfounded. I’d never witnessed that kind of action before. I turned and ran up Lincoln [Street] screaming about what I’d seen’.
–KSU student eyewitness, Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.

“The demonstrators [May 3, Sunday night, 1970] ran down Lincoln Street with the Guard in pursuit. As one youth was running down Lincoln Street away from the Guard, he was stabbed in the back with a bayonet by a National Guardsman…Despite the stab wound, he managed to find shelter in one of the [fraternity] houses on Lincoln Street, where he collapsed, face down and bleeding, on the kitchen floor…a sheriff’s deputy came into the room and told me that he had inspected the wound and that it was too deep and too narrow to have been made by a bayonet. However, I definitely saw the student when he was stabbed by the National Guard’.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“Far worse was the injury of a girl, in no way involved in the demonstration, who was bayoneted outside the library [now the KSU Fashion Design School and Museum on front campus]…between 9;30 and 9:45pm [Sunday night, May 3, 1970]…Here the witness may speak for herself: ‘Many people started running for the library. Somehow the windows were opened and kids were stuffing themselves through them. There was confusion. It was frightening…I had a total trust the National Guard would never touch us, for we had done nothing wrong. We stood against the library wall along with others to wait until they passed. About 10 of the Guardsmen were grouped together…We were among the first students to be encountered by them. I was still confident they would not touch us. Then I saw their faces. There was hate: and it was coming towards me in the form of swinging rifle butts and bayonets. They were yelling, ‘Get back, get back!’…There was nowhere to go. We were encircled by the Guardsmen. THERE WAS NO PROVOCATION. Before I knew it, they were on us…I was bayoneted in the lower abdomen. And in the right leg…the abdomen was punctured. This all happened in a matter of seconds…There were others there who had been hit badly by rifle butts’…word of the bayoneting spread rapidly and increased the anger and antagonism toward the Guard.”
–Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“…a frat man who had been hit either with a gun or a nightstick and who couldn’t walk. His friends wanted to take him to the hospital but they were afraid to try to get through…”
— Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“…‘one officer’ is singled out as ‘especially vicious’. The identification of this officer, if it could be made, might be valuable. Might he be the same man who appears in several other pieces of testimony? Among them Robert Pickett, who repeated his story before the Scranton Commission…?
— Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“As I saw the Guardsmen [9:30-10pm, Sunday night, May 3, 1970] I approached them with my arms up in the air, having experience with having seen what Guardsmen do to black people…I was coming in peace. As I approached them, they began to holler obscenities at me…so I kept approaching them and explaining to them…They said to turn around, boy, and run. I kept talking and one of the soldiers cocked an M-16 [rifle] on me and pointed towards my head, and the other officer came over and cocked his .45 [caliber pistol] and pointed at my head. He told me to move and turn around and run.”
–Robert Pickett, KSU student body Vice President, testimony at President’s Commission on Campus Unrest, August 20, 1970.


“This student himself was clubbed by a National Guardsman and severely – he thinks it could have been fatally – hurt: ‘He went to hit my head, but my reflex was to cover my head with my arm. He hit my elbow, All I can say is if he hit my head, I would have been the first Kent State University casualty’…student outrage at the Guard’s presence was intensified by occurrences of this kind.”
–student eyewitness, Commission on KSU Violence, KSU report, Kent, 1971.


“…Individual responsibility: As a member of this unit and the Ohio National Guard, you have a most serious and demanding individual responsibility. You are about to serve on one of the most difficult and unpleasant tasks that a soldier may be assigned. Regardless of the actions and taunts of the rioters, you must remain the well-disciplined soldier. In short, you must look like a soldier, act like a soldier and remain fair and impartial under all circumstances…”
–Annex F (Pre-employment briefing) to OPLAN 2 (Aid to Civilian Authorities), 1969.


“Relationship with civilian population: Our purpose is to restore and preserve peace among fellow citizens, most of whom are friendly, but who will tolerate military control only to the extent necessary as the result of this emergency. When you display fairness and impartiality, scrupulously protect life and property, and exercise soldierly restraint under all conditions, you merit the respect and secure the cooperation of the civilian population. The temptation to use high-handed methods may be great, but you must remain calm and retain your good judgment in order that you may act wisely regardless of personal feelings or beliefs…”
–Annex F (Pre-employment briefing) to OPLAN 2 (Aid to Civilian Authorities), 1969.