Global Research, May 07, 2021
The Kent State community commemorated the 51st anniversary of the May 4, 1970, shootings outside Taylor Hall on Tuesday. It was a solemn gathering as many former students returned to visit the site of a tragedy where the Ohio National Guard opened fire on anti-Vietnam War protestors. The shootings resulted in the deaths of four students and nine others were wounded.
Fast-forward 51 years later and so much has changed on the Kent campus. However, the sadness brought on by the events of May 4th remains. And behind the tears, pain and uncertainty is a longing for answers.
A Timeline of Events
On April 30, 1970, President Richard Nixon announced the invasion of Cambodia, a country which remained neutral during the Vietnam War. The announcement was met with a surge in anti-war protests across the country including on college campuses like Kent State University.
Following President Nixon’s announcement, an anti-war rally was held on the Commons on Friday May 1. Protestors delivered anti-war speeches and one demonstrator even buried a copy of the Constitution to symbolize the Nixon Administration’s disregard for the historical document.
On Saturday May 2, the Ohio National Guard was ordered to duty at the university by Governor Rhodes following a request from Kent Mayor Satrom who feared that socalled radicals would destroy the city. Later that evening the ROTC building went up in flames and radical protestors were blamed for causing the fire. However, it is unknown to this day who the real perpetrators were.
By Sunday May 3, nearly 1,000 National Guard troops were present on the campus. Photographs of the university at the time resemble that of a war zone rather than an educational institution. In the morning, Governor Rhodes visited Kent State and held a press conference where he expressed disdain for the anti-war protestors. Due to the nature of the governor’s speech, it was then assumed that all protests and demonstrations were banned.Kent State, April 4, 1970: Was It about Civil Rights or Murdering Student Protesters?
A Fateful Day
An anti-war protest was scheduled for noon on Monday May 4th near the victory bell. The protest was thought to be banned but students still gathered and exercised their right to assembly. The guardsmen ordered for the protestors to disperse but they refused and tensions began to escalate. This led to the guardsmen firing into the crowd of protestors killing four students and injuring nine others.
The four students who were killed:
- Allison Krause, 19
- Jeffrey Miller, 20
- Sandra Scheuer, 20
- William Schroeder, 19
The nine students who were injured:
- Alan Canfora
- John Cleary
- Thomas Grace
- Dean Kahler
- Joseph Lewis Jr.
- Donald Scott MacKenzie
- James Russell
- Robert Stamps
- Douglas Wrentmore
A Hero Emerges
The shooting lasted for 13 seconds and was followed with a brief period of silence before many in the crowd began to scream and cry. A tragedy had just occurred and perhaps more violence was yet to come. However, one brave and courageous man stepped up to be the voice of reason.
Glenn Frank, a geology professor on campus, was a faculty peace marshal that weekend. Earlier that day he had jumped into an ambulance and requested the driver to take him to the scene. After helping to get the deceased and wounded students into the ambulances, a group of 1,000 students sat down in front of the guard.
“The General said, you have five minutes to move those students. Another group of guardsmen began to march towards the student gathering. Glenn ran up to Major Jones, who was in charge of the guardsmen and said, ‘my God, what are you doing?’ Jones responded, ‘I have my orders.’ ‘Over my dead body,’ said Glenn. Jones then threw down his baton, but the Guard stopped. After the General gave him five minutes to disperse, he then made his impassioned plea.” — Alan Frank
Professor Frank’s actions on May 4, 1970, are said to have saved hundreds of lives. In an emotional plea to the students and protestors, Glenn Frank said:
“I don’t care whether you’ve never listened to anyone before in your lives. I am begging you right now if you don’t disperse right now they’re going to move in and it can only be a slaughter. Would you please listen to me. Jesus Christ. I don’t want to be a part of this,”
KSU faculty member Glenn Frank talking to a crowd of people, blood in parking lot is visible in background
After hearing Glenn Frank’s plea, many students left the premise and no one else was killed by the National Guard that day. However, for Glenn Frank himself, he remained deeply troubled by the events that took place. While continuing to work as a geology professor at Kent State, Glenn spent the rest of his life searching for the truth by investigating what led up to the senseless killing of four college students.
A Search for Answers
It has been 51 years since the May 4, 1970, shootings and many questions remain unanswered. The public deserves clarity. A passage of time should not comfort those in positions of power who continue to suppress the truth.
Glenn Frank’s son, Alan Frank, who was present during the May 4, 1970 shootings, shares his experience. Alan, who has been an active member of the Kent State May 4th community, revisits the work of his father who has sought answers to our many unanswered questions surrounding the events on and leading up to that day.
Interview with Alan Frank to be posted on May 8, 2021
Taylor Hudak, MA, is an independent journalist covering human rights abuses in the West, the corruption of the intelligence community and whistleblowing. Taylor’s work can be found on acTVism Munich, YouTube and The Last American Vagabond.