This week has been hard to watch unfold on TV, much harder for people in Ferguson, Missouri , and horrible for the Brown family who had their son executed on the streets of their hometown.
I am including a video for all to see of the urban violence that has transpired. Don’t get me wrong, I know and respect the need we all have of police protection, that thin blue line between all of us and the violence and chaos that is obviously a reality none of us wants to see or even imagine. But I am against the militarization of police that has happened since 9/11. We have heard that equipment from the military has been sold to local police departments. This week we saw it and it was horrible.
Has this happened before, you might ask? Sadly it has with rioting in the streets in places like Watts of Los Angeles , and Chicago during the Democrat Convention of 1968. There were horrible pictures of the police using sticks and dogs to contain the anti-Viet Nam protesters. The later is the comparison I want to share with you .
This time, the late 1960s and early 1970s in the country was also very divided politically with the divisor being the Vietnam War. President Nixon choose to expand the war after years of national disagreement, by ordering the American troops to invade Cambodia , the neighbor of Vietnam . The explanation given to the country was that there would be a domino affect in Southeast Asia of countries falling into Communism if we didn’t prevent it. Thus the invasion began. There were very strong demonstrations in the country, with the strongest on college campuses. After all there was a “draft ” during this time, not a volunteer army. The college students would be the ones drafted to serve.
On May 4, 1970, there was an Ohio shooting of unarmed college students at Kent State by the Ohio National Guard. 67 rounds were shot into the crowd in 13 seconds, killing 4 students and wounding 9 others. One was permanently paralyzed. Here are the iconic images etched in the minds of everyone old enough to remember!
National Guard at Kent State
There was an immediate, significant response to this event as hundreds of colleges, universities, and even high schools were closed because of the 4 million student lead strikes. This event further affected the public’s opinion about the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.
My husband was at the University of Virginia in Grad School during this time. Mr. Jefferson’s university in Charlottesville. We saw with our own eyes National Guard tanks parked at U-Hall, the basketball hall. I guess this was the staging area. There was a curfew and it was strictly enforced. A pizza delivery man was arrested for breaking the curfew as he delivered his pies.
On May 5th, we were on the lawn of the Rotunda, the heart of the University as speakers using bullhorns, lead protests of the war, President Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia on April 30th, and the killings the day before at Kent State. Mr. Jefferson had to be smiling.
I remember the confusion and fear that enveloped people in 1970. I feel it again now. Here is John Oliver humor and horror of Ferguson. What has happened to our country? We must have the wisdom for a redo. . . ensuring “liberty and justice for all!” Lord have mercy!
Is the United States of America a country with a culture of war as one of my WordPress friends says?