|Download For $1.99: - September 28, 1970 - Meet The Press - NBC Radio - Gordon Skene Sound Collection|
NBC – Meet The Press – Campus Protests – September 28, 1970 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
1970 – The year Campus protests turned deadly.
On April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia. On May 1, protests on college campuses and in cities throughout the U.S. began. In Seattle, over a thousand protestors gathered at the Federal Courthouse and cheered speakers. Significant protests also occurred at the University of Maryland, the University of Cincinnati, and Princeton University.
At Kent State University in Ohio, a demonstration with about 500 students was held on the Commons. On May 2, students burned down the ROTC building at Kent State. On May 4, poorly trained National Guardsmen confronted and killed four students while injuring ten other by bullets during a large protest demonstration at the college. Soon, more than 450 university, college and high school campuses across the country were shut down by student strikes and both violent and non-violent protests that involved more than 4 million students.
While opposition to the Vietnam War had been simmering on American campuses for several years, and the idea of a strike had been introduced by the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, which advocated a general strike on the 15th of every month until the war ended, the Kent State shootings seemed to provide the spark for students across the US to adopt the strike tactic.
On May 7, violent protests began at the University of Washington with some students smashing windows in their Applied Physics laboratory and throwing rocks at the police while chanting “the pigs are coming!”
On May 8, ten days after Nixon announced the Cambodian invasion (and 4 days after the Kent State shootings), 100,000 protesters gathered in Washington and another 150,000 in San Francisco. Nationwide, students turned their anger on what was often the nearest military facility—college and university Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) offices. All told, 30 ROTC buildings went up in flames or were bombed. There were violent clashes between students and police at 26 schools and National Guard units were mobilized on 21 campuses in 16 states. Walkouts and protests were reported by the National Strike Information Center at over 700 campuses across the country, with heavy concentrations in New England, the Midwest, and California.
For the most part, however, the protests were peaceful — if often tense. Students at New York University, for example, hung a banner out of a window which read “They Can’t Kill Us All.”
This episode of Meet The Press features a panel of three members of The President’s Commission On Student Unrest, which was launched shortly after the Kent and Jackson State shootings and the public outcry the killings of unarmed students generated. On the panel are; William Scranton, James Ahearn and Joseph Rhodes Jr. – they attempt to address the situation and what steps were being taken to curb the use of deadly force on unarmed students in the wake of what were surely continued protests against the Vietnam War.