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Governor Reagan Announcement of School closings – May 5, 1970 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection.
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As reverberations continued to be felt around the country, the day after the shootings at Kent State on May 5th 1970, California Governor Reagan chimed in on the situation and ordered the closing of all colleges and University campuses until May 11.
In a blanket telephone statement released to the press, Governor Reagan ordered the closings as a precaution over threatened violence, as protests to the shootings spread throughout the country.
Saying the culprits in the string of violent demonstrations weren’t students at all, but a carefully trained group of agitators, bent on destroying College life and throwing the country into chaos, and that it was in all likelihood that the students gunned down were innocent bystanders.
Asking for a four-day reflection on the roots and causes, and asking the majority of students to use the time to discuss the situation, Reagan appealed to students, parents and Administrators to end the violence.
The irony in all this was, only four days earlier, Reagan was quoted as saying the students engaged in these protests were “brats”, “freaks” and “cowardly fascists” and that he advocated “a bloodbath, if necessary” to quell the protests.
After the events of May 4th, he quickly backtracked, saying he was using a “figure of speech” in dealing with the protests.
Of course, Reagan was no fan of the University system – his clashes were frequent, and many thought it was this “no appeasement” policy that insured his winning the Governors race in 1966, and fueled his race for President in 1980.
But this was 1970, and we were in the midst of dealing with a tragedy, borne from a more complex set of circumstances. Some people just wanted a quick fix, and shooting from the hip seemed like an answer.
Here is that address, as it was given to the press, and later broadcast, on May 5, 1970.