Barry Gan: ‘Awakening mainstream America’

The killing of four unarmed students at Kent State on May 4, 1970 is not the only time our government has fired upon unarmed civilians.

It happened 11 days later, again, at Jackson State, when police opened fire on unarmed students, killing two. And on April 20, 1914 state militia fired machine guns into family tents during a strike in Colorado, killing twenty-one people. These are but two other examples. There are others.

The students at Jackson State were African-Americans, and the strikers were unionists. But the students at Kent State were mainstream, and if remembering Kent State helps to awaken mainstream America to the dangerous readiness of government to use deadly force against innocent and unarmed citizens, that’s reason enough to remember Kent State.

Barry Gan is a professor of philosophy and director of the Center for Nonviolence at St. Bonaventure University.

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