Thursday, May 10, 2012

Upon A Certain Day In May

In which Y'r Int'r'g'l'ct'c Ethn'gr'ph'r interprets the recurrence of the mostly hollow genuflections toward the never-resolved events of that day and that week; time will tell, it seems that week was a pivotal one in the counter-cultural movement. I should note that about a dozen students were injured that morning at UNM, most with bayonets; no Guardsmen reported any injuries. Besides, Haymarket is just sooooo Gilded Age. nest paw?

Last Friday was the anniversary of that bloody day in 1970 when the Ohio National guard opened fire on a gathering of protesting students at a small, obsure state school in Ohio called Kent State University, killing four and wounding a half-dozen more, with random fire from more than 100 yards from the demonstrations. The Guardsmen were NEVER under ANY direct, imminent threat of danger to justify opening fire. No one got close enough. No one was ever punished or even held accountable for the murders at Kent State that day.

(On Friday, May 8, 1970, just four days after the bloody events at Kent State University, and with the campuses of America often literally aflame with turmoil for which they were ill-prepared understand, much less quell, the New Mexico National Guard retook the UNM Campus from the hippies.)

In Albuquerque, at UNM, the warm, spring weather, the impending end of school, and the deadly events of the previous week had stoked temperatures to a feverish fervor.  UNM already was an 'activist' campus: students had occupied both the President's office and the Student Union Building. Really "Occpied 'em." Took 'em the fuck over. Moved in. Lived and slept (etc., as you may imagine at leisure) in 'em.
Meanwhile, all spring long the he local, pro-war/anti-hippie, daily rag which had been fulminating against the campus radicals. They raised the stakes, demanding the city or the State 'restore order' on campus. A big demonstration against the war, and in solidarity with the dead kids at Kent State was announced for Friday, the Eighth.

That day, coincidentally of course, the Governor and the Lt. Gov. were BOTH out of State, and the NEXT in the chain of command, a little, power-mad, martinette who ran the State Police--5'5" or so with a complex about it--called out the National Guard.

About 11 am, the Guardsmen, from Socorro, not Albuquerque, dismounted their trucks, fixed their bayonets and began to advanced down the broad, bricked causeway from Central Avenue toward the Union in line abreast.

VVAW members were deloyed aas marshals, maintaining distance, but we got pushed back into the front line of the crowd. Then there was there was a flurry of activity, and suddenly a kid near me was writhing on the ground, blood spurting feet in the air. He'd got bayonetted in the upper leg, and his femoral artery had been cut.

 Another VVAW guy and I got a tourniquet on the kid's leg, and then made a chair with our arms to carry him to the Aid tent (there were ALWAYS aid tents, in those times). He was going into shock.

As we got out of the crush of the demonstration, we encountered a few ranks of Albuquerque's best burghers arrayed  behind a fence watching the hippies get their asses kicked, and cheering. They cursed us and spat on us. The kid had to be hospitalized, but suffered no lasting physical injury.

I cannot answer for the psychiological consequences, but my esteem for the "average American" never recovered.

But note, hippies: Every year, on this date, the Oligarchs haul out the images from that event to remind us that, yes, they will kill ya, if you piss 'em off enough, even if you're white.
Nack to Hippy Central, Winstone...

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