Local Protests of the Kent State Shootings
Richard Nixon ran for President in 1968 with the promise that he would end the Vietnam War. However, on April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced on live television and radio that the United States would be invading Cambodia. This led to many protests on campuses across the country. Protestors at Kent State University in Ohio launched a demonstration on Friday, May 1st, including various types of rallies and speeches. That evening, socializing in downtown Kent quickly escalated into a violent confrontation between protestors and police, which included building bonfires, stopping cars, throwing bottles at police cars, and breaking store windows. This prompted the Mayor of Kent, Leroy Satrom, to contact the governor of Ohio requesting assistance from the Ohio National Guard. On May 3rd, approximately 1,000 National Guard soldiers were sent to the Kent State campus and tensions remained high. During an incident on May 4, 1970, members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire into a crowd of Kent State University demonstrators, killing four and wounding nine.
Students march across the Claude Allouez Bridge from De Pere to Green Bay
This tragic incident caused more unrest across the country. Almost five hundred colleges were shut down or disrupted by protests. More than 100,000 people demonstrated against the war in Vietnam and the killing of unarmed students in Washington D.C. just five days after the shooting. The events at Kent State have been referenced in documentaries, plays, film and television, and music. One of the best known responses to the deaths at Kent State was the protest song “Ohio” written by Neil Young for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
A group of protesters sit in demonstration outside a federal building in Green Bay.
Opposition to the Vietnam War and the events at Kent State led to protests here in Wisconsin as well. People in Green Bay also participated in demonstrations. These photographs were taken for the Green Bay Press Gazette on May 6, 1970 and show demonstrations in the area related to the Kent State shootings. See more photographs at photos.nevillepublicmuseum.org.
Demonstrators march in downtown Green Bay