Solidarity with Palestine at Kent State shooting commemoration

May 4 marked the 54th anniversary of the killing of four students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard during a 1970 anti-war demonstration, part of countrywide protests after the U.S. expanded the Vietnam war with the bombing of Cambodia. Every year, activities on the KSU campus honor the memory of Sandy Scheuer, Allison Krause, Bill Schroeder and Jeffrey Miller, along with Phillip Gibbs and James Earl Green, Black students killed by police at Jackson State University on May 15, 1970.

Kent State University shooting commemoration. Kent, Ohio, May 4, 2024. (WW Photo: Susan Schnur)

Tacked to the stage was a huge banner with the slogan “Long live the spirit of Kent and Jackson State!” — the slogan chanted in 1977 during the movement to try to stop KSU from building a gym on the site of the shootings. Earlier in the day, “Move the gym” had been chalked on the gym wall.

Student speakers Sophia Swengel and Juliana Buonaiuto received applause when they drew parallels between the events at Kent State in 1970 and the wave of campus encampments now in solidarity with Palestine. Hundreds of pro-Palestine activists, who are demanding KSU divest from Israel bonds and companies that do business with the Zionist state, turned their backs on University President Todd Diacon when he spoke.

After the university-sponsored memorial ended, divestment activists held a militant rally for Palestine, tying together the student movements of 1970 and today.

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