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View Diary: "They Just Started Shooting Us Down" -- Kent State (305 comments)

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  •  Wonderful diary... (18+ / 0-)

    Your thirty+ years of research and depth of feeling make this the best diary I've ever read. And, I might add, this is the most comprehensive presentation of the this event that I've read to date.
       When I heard the sirens wailing that day, I was eating lunch in a downtown Kent restaurant. Immediately I knew it was a bad day for somebody, and it was a good bet it was the students. I prayed my two sisters, both attending classes on campus,  were safe.
       At the time I was enrolled as a grad student at Kent, and working as a career counselor downtown for a private firm. Our offices were in a small strip mall on the southside, adjacent to the county courthouse. When I returned to my office, two gaurdsmen appeared at my office door, guns pointed at me, locked and loaded. They gave me 15 minutes to get out of town. I asked if I could make a phone call. They agreed and left. Maybe five minutes later, one of the gaurds came back and said to me: "I changed my mind. You have five minutes to get the fuck out of town." I immediately left the office. On the way out, in the back of the building, I saw a busload of students, obviously under arrest.
       I have no idea why the chased me out of town and I won't bore you with the details of the rest of the day. But I can tell you I was "radicalized" by the events of that day, and age only intensifies the anger, the bitterness, among so many other feelings.
       There is so much more I want to say, but I deeply appreciate what you've done here with your diary. I see a book here, don't you?    

    •  thank you so much (7+ / 0-)

      That means a tremendous amount coming from someone so close to the events.

      Is there a book in it? Well, yeah, let's just say that I've tried before and I'm trying again.

      We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders. -- Noam Chomsky

      by kainah on Wed May 03, 2006 at 04:05:18 PM PDT

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    •  I would not be bored (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kainah, peraspera

      with the details of the rest of that day. Anything you could share would add a lot.

      What an impact it must have made...
      and how strange that you'd have a gun pointed at you at your office.

      What the hell were they doing in a private firm?

      •  Sorry I'm responding so late but... (8+ / 0-)

        I had to leave for awhile. As I said, when I left the office, there was a busload of students parked in the back of the building under armed gaurd by the NG. (I now wonder if it was one of the busloads of "professional demonstrators" mentioned in earlier comments?)I took the NG threat seriously and headed out of town, taking 43N. I picked up a hitch hiker who appeared, even from the car window to be scared shitless. When he got in the car he was shaking as he told me: "I wanna get out of here, Man. This fucking place is crazy. They're shooting real bullets. All of a sudden I looked down, and the ground was jumping in front of me. I got the hell out of there." (this is pretty much what he said, though not exactly. The rest I don't remember.)
           I remember this because His story conflicted with radio reports I had just heard about 7 gaurdsmen shot and killed on campus. His story simply confirmed what I suspected: it was a bad day for the students.
           After dropping him off in Streetsboro (the next town north of Kent)and continued to my parents house to find out where the girls were, and how they were going to get home. By the time I got home, students  had been ordered out of town immediately. Relieved to hear that so far they were ok, I agreed to pick them up at a trailer park just east of Kent. The girls (my sister)had made arrangements to walk to a friend's trailer to wait for a ride home.
           I didn't know how I would get back into town, and I didn't want the gaurd to find me again, but I took Rt 5 to the outskirts of Kent, where there was a highway patrolman manning a roadblock. I could see that he was turning everyone away, but I decided to try to get through anyway. He asked where I was going. I told him, and to my surprise he let me through. The girls were at the trailer and I got them home without incident.
           The rest of the day is very unclear to me, my thought process clouded by a growing rage For the first and only time in my life I distinctly remember this: I had an urge to man the  barricades. I thought: If they want a fight, godamnit, we won't come with rocks to a gunfight the next time. It was clear to me why people revolt. I could hardly bear the anger, the feeling of powerlessness.
            I was then, and am now, convinced that on that day we teetered precariously on the brink of a violent revolution. But for the heroic effort of Dr. Glenn Frank, who knows what might have happened.
           In many ways, the following days were just as bruising. I listened to NG from the unit that was on campus talk about going back the following weekend to kill more students. That's what they wanted to do. They expressed a palpable hatred for the protesters. Like any military unit, student demonstrators were their enemies, not human, to be killed. Towneys often commented that more should have been killed.
           Here's another point often overlooked in telling the Kent State story. At least one of the The gaurd units dispatched to the campus were from the Ravenna Armory, a town just five miles east of Kent! Some of the boys in the firing squad were from the 'hood. Potentially they were shooting at friends, relatives, or even their own brothers and sisters.
           I could go on and on, but I had better stop and reload. Thx for your interest. (I apologise for any errors, but I want to get this up quickly.)

        •  Amazing! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SarahLee, kainah, peraspera

          I don't grade on spelling, your content is just amazing.

          The radio reports you heard about the 7 guardsmen being killed makes more sense of what someone else mentioned. They talked about neighbors pointing guns at houses of students. They might have thought armed students were attacking.

          It doesn't make sense of adults who said they should have killed more of the students though. And it's HORRIFYING, really, really horrifying that the NG were talking that way after the event. You hear about that kind of talk in war, but I didn't expect that reaction from that happening at home. Even if they didn't want to accuse the NG that did the shooting...it  is hard to grasp that there wasn't regret.

          It seems unusually sane of that cop to let you through to get your sisters, to believe you and allow it in that atmosphere.

          I can't thank you enough. Hearing from those with experiences of the place at the time means a lot. Dr. Glenn Frank has won my heart and I never heard of him before today.

          That it was a set up is wrenching but perhaps the worst part of this story that is new to me is how many people lacked compassion, were so cruel in their response or attitude to the students. This should have been enough to have the adults rise up with the students everywhere. Don't shoot our kids! Simple. Don't shoot our kids.

          My thoughts are going so many ways here, it's like reality is shifting even though this is a past event. It's never been as real to me. I feel like it happened yesterday and I knew all the kids that were there, it feels personal and current.

          This diary and the posts like yours make that happen. My only reason I wish you could have posted sooner is because more people might have seen it-and they should.  Thank you.

          •  thank you for your kind comments... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kainah, joynow, peraspera

            I also think the comments have been stunning to say the least. I've had so many epiphanies today; I'll have to sort them out while I try to sleep. there's more you should know about the neighborhood where these NG came from It'll make more sense to you. thx again. Look forward to your next post.

          •  headline of 2 (3?) guardsmen killed (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joynow, peraspera

            I think it was the Kent (town) newspaper and there may even have been early Cleveland editions that said there were 2 or 3 guardsmen killed. This was widely reported early that afternoon.

            Hmmmm.... Wonder why someone wanted to plant that misinformation. And you don't suppose they had it ready to go because they knew there would be some deaths? Hmmmm......

            And, MitchVance, thanks for your extended memories. Did you show a local (Kent) identification at the highway patrol road block? That, I've always thought, was the only way people were allowed in.

            We need not stride resolutely towards catastrophe, merely because those are the marching orders. -- Noam Chomsky

            by kainah on Wed May 03, 2006 at 10:14:00 PM PDT

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    •  Please tell more. (0+ / 0-)

      It's the "anti-fear-propaganda" solution: positive news: HeroicStories, free

      by AllisonInSeattle on Wed May 03, 2006 at 06:50:03 PM PDT

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