Monday, May 6, 2013

CJE Citizen's Dispatch: The Week That Was--May 4-8,1970

Four Dead in Ohio:

May 4, 1970. We remember Kent State, Jackson State (1970), and Orangeburg (1968). At Kent State University (May 4, 1970), the Ohio National Guard shot unarmed college students who were protesting the war and observers. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others.
While most people know that students were killed at Kent State in 1970, very few know about the murder of students at Jackson State and even less about South Carolina State College in Orangeburg. In Orangeburg, two years before the Kent State murders, 28 students were injured and three were killed — most shot in the back by the state police while involved in a peaceful protest. Visit this page to learn more and see film trailer: The Jackson State killings occurred on May 14–15, 1970, at Jackson State College (now JSU) in Mississippi. A group of student protesters were confronted by city and state police. The police opened fire, killing two students and injuring twelve. Also see the @[121352639676:274:Zinn Education Project] teaching guide on the Vietnam War and anti-war movement: Image: courtesy of NYU Library.

Woody's war story: You know the difference between a war story and a fairy-tale?

A fairy-tale starts "Once upon a time..."

A war-story starts "This ain't no shit man, I was THERE!"

May 4, 1970, the date of the Kent State murders, was a Monday. I was there--not in Kent, OH, but in the mass of students and others who were infuriated by the revelations of Nixon's (and Kissinger's) "secret war" and their apparent willingness, even eagerness, to continue to prosecute this  stupidly unnecessary, unpopular wars.

The storm of protest over Nixon's secret wars in Cambodia and Laos had erupted the in previous week when news reports carried the information about hundreds of "secret" bombing raids. That early May weekend, 1970, students on campuses all over the country were restive. Then, when the news broke of the Ohio National Guard's cavalier, casual massacre of four kids at some obscure school outside of Cleveland, the spark flared and spread, and students all over the country began organizing for a massive protest in response.

May 8, 1970, the following Friday, was the day the shit-storm broke for good and all. It had been brewing all week, with tempers and activity rising all across the country;  meanwhile promises of police repression were filling the air. Popular sentiment--hippies versus hard-hats--tremendously polarized. There were, actually, people who APPROVED to the Guard's slaughter of the four (white, surprisingly) students in Ohio.

Here, in NM, that day, somehow the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General were all elsewhere. That left the Chief of the State Police, Martin Vigil, a tiny, fat, little fucking totalitarian martinet with the brain of a gecko, in charge to meet a widely announced, widely anticipated demonstration on the UNM campus in Albuquerque. The wanna-be 'generalissimo' precipitated a crisis by calling out a National Guard unit from Socorro to "pacify" the UNM campus. 

The Guard parked their 'duece-and-as-half' trucks on Central Ave (right in front of what is now the legendary "Frontier" restaurant), dismounted, bared and fixed their bayonets, and began to march down the mall, to clear it of student protestors. I would guess there were a couple of thousand kids, faculty, and other citizens assembled outside the Student Union building. The Guard were advancing in line abreast, with fixed bayonets, toward the angry and increasingly unruly demonstrators. There were also many hundreds of Albuquerque citizens who'd come out to spectate.

Violence inevitably ensued--in excess of a dozen students were injured, severally badly-- by Guard bayonets and other forms of physical aggression. VVAW members were there acting as marshals trying to keep peace; I was standing near a fellow who was bayoneted in the leg, and his femoral artery was knicked. Blood spurted FEET in the air! Another guy, also a vet, and I got a tourniquet on the leg and carried the kid to the aid tent (which there always were, in those days). Along the way, were subject to vile curses and showered with spittle and invective by the watchers.

My generally tolerant attitude toward "average" Ummurkins" did NOT survive that day, as the good burghers of Burque-town came out in their thousands to watch and cheer as the National Guard kicked hippies' asses. It made the local papers, but news didn't travel as far, in days porior to 'social media,' and the events of that day are now largely forgotten.

It was a truly transformative day, for me, on which I learned once and for all where MY class interests lay...I hope you have such a day, sometime, though perhaps not under such dire circumstances, hippies...

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