Nation: Kent State: Martyrdom That Shook the Country

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Within an hour, about 500 Guardsmen, already weary from three nights of duty, arrived with fully loaded M-1 semiautomatic rifles, pistols and tear gas. They were in time to help police block the students from charging into the downtown area. Students reacted by dousing trees with gasoline, then setting them afire. Order was restored before midnight. On Sunday, Governor Rhodes arrived in Kent. He made no attempt to seek the advice of Kent State President Robert I. White and told newsmen that campus troublemakers were "worse than Brown Shirts and Communists and vigilantes—they're the worst type of people that we harbor in America." He refused to close the campus, as Portage County Prosecutor Ronald Kane pleaded; instead, he declared a state of emergency and banned all demonstrations on the campus. Late that night, about 500 students defied the order and staged a sitdown on one of Kent's busiest intersections. Guardsmen, their number now grown to 900, moved into the face of a rock barrage to arrest 150 students.

"Our Campus" '

On Monday, the campus seemed to calm down. In the bright sunshine, tired young Guardsmen flirted with leggy coeds under the tall oaks and maples. Classes continued throughout the morning. But the ban against mass assemblies was still in effect, and some students decided to test it again. "We just couldn't believe they could tell us to leave," said one. "This is our campus." At high noon, youngsters began ringing the school's Victory Bell, normally used to celebrate a football triumph but rarely heard of late. About 1,000 students, some nervous but many joking, gathered on the Commons. Another 2,000 ringed the walks and buildings to watch.

From their staging area near the burned-out ROTC building, officers in two Jeeps rolled across the grass to address the students with bullhorns: "Evacuate the Commons area. You have no right to assemble." Back came shouts of "Pigs off campus! We don't want your war." Students raised middle fingers. The Jeeps pulled back. Two skirmish lines of Guardsmen, wearing helmets and gas masks, stepped away from the staging area and began firing tear-gas canisters at the crowd. The Guardsmen moved about 100 yards toward the assembly and fired gas again. A few students picked up canisters and threw them back, but they fell short of the troops. The mists of stinging gas split the crowd. Some students fled toward Johnson Hall, a men's dormitory, and were blocked by the L-shaped building. Others ran between Johnson and nearby Taylor Hall.


A formation of fewer than 100 Guardsmen—a mixed group including men from the 107th Armored Cavalry Regiment based in neighboring Ravenna, and others from a Wooster company of the 145th Infantry Regiment—pursued fleeing students between the two buildings. The troopers soon found themselves facing a fence and flanked by rock-throwing students, who rarely got close enough to hit anyone. Occasionally one managed to toss a gas canister back near the troops, while delighted spectators, watching from the hilltop, windows of buildings and the roof of another men's dorm, cheered. Many demonstrators were laughing.

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