Friday, May 05, 2000
Kent State bell tolls
Student shootings a turning point
By Amy Beth Graves
The Associated Press
KENT, Ohio As thousands of people watched, a bell tolled on the Kent State University campus Thursday at 12:24 p.m., the moment National Guardsmen opened fire 30 years ago on antiwar protesters.
The Victory Bell sounded 15 times: once for each of the four students killed and nine wounded at Kent State and once each for the two students killed at Jackson State University in Mississippi 10 days later.
The shootings on May 4, 1970, galvanized the anti-war movement.
The 30th anniversary brought the nine survivors back to the campus. We don't know why this happened to us. We don't know who said, "Shoot.' We don't know when they said it or why, said Joseph Lewis, now 48 and living in Oregon.
An overnight vigil was held at the parking lot where Allison Krause, Sandy Scheuer, Jeffery Miller and William Schroeder were killed.
The Kent State shootings happened after days of student protests and the burning of the campus Army ROTC building.
Guardsmen fired at least 61 shots in a 13-second burst, hitting protesters, bystanders and students walking at a distance. Some Guardsmen said they felt their lives were in danger.
But Mr. Lewis said Guardsmen shot at him for no reason.
I didn't do anything wrong. People who did something wrong were (Guardsmen) who shot and killed them and shot and wounded us deliberately, Mr. Lewis said.
The survivors continued to blame the shooting on then-Gov. James Rhodes, who ordered the troops on campus. You have to remember Rhodes virtually beat on the table, saying he was going to keep this university open and all the universities in Ohio, said Dean Kahler of Nelsonville, Ohio, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.
It was a terrible thing, Mr. Rhodes, now 90, told the Columbus Dispatch. But no one plans a train wreck, either. It just happened. And life goes on.
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