The Vietnam era was one of the most turbulent times in the history of the United States. The 1960's was the back drop to war, free love, peaceniks, flower children, rock and roll, and civil disobedience. College campuses became the staging ground for the distribution of drugs, and organized demonstrations. They also became the battleground where students took on the establishment and police officials. College campuses also became the battleground where many students were killed, the most memorable was Kent State University.
This commentary is being written by one who lived around Kent State during that time, and know first hand what transpired that lead to the deaths of four students. Hundreds of youth began to trek to Kent, Ohio, to organize a demonstration against the federal government for its part in the Vietnam war. Many were draft dodgers. Many were drug addicts. There were a few runaways. Those who participated in the week long demonstrations far outnumbered the students who had no clue they were about to be sucked into the history books. Most of the demonstrators were members of the weatherman underground, a group who used Kent State as a central distribution point for trafficking drugs to the Eastern Seaboard. So for the most part, those who took part in any and all violence on college campuses were criminal elements, not students. The week of May 4th, the youth population started to swell. About 98% were not students or residents of the vicinity. The week was somewhat peaceful, with a few skirmishes between the law and protesters. There were many injuries inflicted on the police officers, as well as the protesters. The day before the shooting started uneventful. Then it rapidly progressed into violence. Some business owners lost their businesses to fire, others had their buildings vandalized, with storefronts shattered. These people, the business owners, were innocent casualties of the protests. They suffered significant financial loss. And there businesses were downtown, about two to three miles from the university.
If one is going to protest, then one would have some common sense and not interfere with one trying to make a living. Protesting should be an activity that is legal, after all the constitution gives us that right. It does not give us the right to destroy another man's right to work and live and provide for his family. It does not give us the right to destroy property. Now, those Kent protesters should have been forced to reimburse the businesses for loss of property, destruction, and loss of income.
Someone in that group of criminals brought a small arm or explosive, set it off and started the tragic sequences of May 4th. Whenever someone plans a peaceful protest, it doesn't take long for the criminal elements to infiltrate and turn peaceful protests into violent protests. Four students were changing classes and wandered into a part of the commons that was deemed off limits by the authorities. Warnings that were posted torn down by the criminal elements. The National Guard was only doing their job, one was nervous enough to react to gunfire or a fire cracker from the protesters that started the chain of events. This is what I deduced from that day.