In May of 1970, thousands of students peacefully protesting the American bombing of Cambodia were assembled on the campus of Kent State University in Ohio. Their peace however, was not met with peace from the seventy-six guardsmen who were there as well. The rioting had begun on Friday, May 1, when several students organized an on-campus demonstration to protest U.S. troops entering Cambodia. That evening, a crowd of drunken and agitated students moved off campus and began breaking windows of government buildings in town. Police were called in to disperse the crowd. The Kent city mayor, having heard rumors of a radical plot in the making, declared a state of emergency and Ohio officials called in the National Guard. Local bars were closed and rioters were herded back toward the campus with tear gas.
The next day, the protestors set fire to the Kent State R.O.T.C. building and when firemen tried to put out the flames, the protestors slashed holes into the fire hoses. National Guard troops again cleared the campus. The hostility intensified on Sunday, May third, when the crowd failed to disperse after being ordered to do so. The Ohio Riot Act was read to them and tear gas was fired. The hostile rioters regrouped and moved into town, where the Riot Act was again read to them and tear gas was again used. Several people, including some guardsmen, were injured. The next day would be a day America would not soon forget.
Around eleven a.m., May fourth, about 200 students gathered on the commons of the university. Earlier that morning, state and local officials had met in the city of Kent. Some officials had assumed that Ohio Governor Rhodes had declared Martial Law to be in effect but he had not. In fact, Martial Law was not officially declared until the next day. Nevertheless, the National Guard resolved to disperse any assembly.
As noon approached, the size of the crowd increased in numbers, growing to 1,500. Some were merely spectators, while others had gathered...