May 4: The Spirit of Kent State

Revolutionary Worker #1151, May 19, 2002, posted at

May 4, 1970, Kent State University: Four students are shot dead by the National Guard during fierce protests against the Vietnam War.

May 4, 2002: A new generation steps forward to stand with the people of the world. The Kent State Anti-War committee held a protest, 300 to 500 strong, on a day that symbolizes the crimes of U.S. imperialism and the people's defiance. Speakers at the rally (including Jeff Paterson, Tom Grace, C. Clark Kissinger, Steve Soseby, a message from Mumia Abu-Jamal, and representatives from All-African People's Revolutionary Party, RCYB, and Burning River Anarchist Collective) exposed the situation in the world today, from Palestine to Afghanistan to the round-up of Arabs in the U.S., and shared their views of what kind of movement it will take to stop the war. Palestinians, resisters from the '60s, peace groups, Black nationalists, and students from all over Ohio were in attendance.

At the end of the rally, a march went through the campus with the youth providing tremendous spirit. People beat out rhythms of defiance on drums, beautiful puppets exposed the unjust war, and many wore kaffiyehs and waved Palestinian flags. At the parking lot where the four students were killed in 1970, people shouted "Let them not have died in vain, no more war in our name!" The Not In Our Name pledge of resistance was then read in unison.

When the permit ended, a U.S. flag was burned and about 200 took the streets and marched to downtown Kent. When students took over a busy intersection, a tense standoff--with police threatening rubber bullets and tear gas--was a reminder of the brutality that left four students dead 32 years ago, but the students held their ground in the streets, celebrating their spirit for the battles to come.

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