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[Beginning of Tape 1]
[Harold Mayer]: Testing. Your name and address.
[David Rakich]: My name is David Rakich and address is 1020 Morris Road, Apartment 4. Okay. The first time I was involved in it was Friday night. It was about 2:00 or 2:30 in the morning. I had went downtown out of curiosity to see just how much was going on because I heard reports. The kid that was here that used the phone said they were really raising hell. So I went downtown and I got out in front of the main gate on Main across from Captain Brady’s, and I got out of the car and I stopped the first kid underneath the arch and I asked him what happened. He said there was trouble down by JB’s. That’s where it all started or something like that. So, I wasn’t there more than five minutes, and I was talking to this kid, and the tactical squad and the rest of the Kent police that were across the street, and the tactical squad started lofting the tear gas, the canister with tear gas, onto the campus. So everyone just ran back past the Union, up to the Union, and everyone split up from there. I had walked back down past the ROTC building and there were police cars there and there was one at the corner of Morris and Summit up here. So, I didn’t get hassled at all, I just minded my own business and went back to the apartment here.
The next day, I had left for Cincinnati and my involvement didn’t start again until Monday. So, Saturday and Sunday I had no idea what was going on. I was completely out of touch with the media, [unintelligible]. So when we had come back, it was like 4:30 in the morning on Monday and we had just come into town. It was completely deserted and they had the personnel carriers at the entrance of the college and up by McGilvrey, and they had–they were stationed on the corners up by University School. As we made the turn, they stopped us and wanted to know what we were doing, and I explained we were in Cincinnati for the weekend and, “didn’t you know there was a curfew?” I said, “No,” that I was unaware of what was going on. So he said, “Go to your apartment and stay there. The town’s under martial law.”
So, I went back, and I had heard Monday that Glennmorris was gassed. For what reason, I don’t know. I think that was stupid. In the Union Monday, you could just kind of feel things were high. You know there was tension on campus. Like when they sent the directive out saying to treat the day normally, I don’t think you can. I don’t think you can treat it normally with the National Guard on campus. There were a couple incidents in the Union itself where one of the student marshals came in and he said that he read a list, he started to get up on a chair and was reading a list of what the administration of Matson had sent down. As he was talking, someone came in and pulled him off the chair and said, you know, “Get out of here. We don’t want none of your leftist-- ” He wasn’t even gonna–he wasn’t spouting anything and if the kid would have just listened–he thought he was a member of SDS or whoever was just starting something. And so the kid found out what an idiot he was and they let the marshal get back up and he started talking about what was going on and what you should do. Then, again, there were people breaking out in arguments in the Union about what was happening. They should go out there and demand the Guard to leave campus because it’s not right.
So we waited around–I had a class. After class–after my 10:45 or 9:45–something like that–we had went back to the Union again. I sat there and waited. They said there was a rally on campus at noon, so I went to the rally out of curiosity, I wanted to see what was going on. We were up on the hill, and someone just started talking. I think even if they had let the students–let them go for a while, see what was going to go on, they wouldn’t have to bring in the Guard as much as they did. They sent the jeep out and the jeep said, “We are advising you to leave this area. It’s an illegal assembly,” and they kept repeating that. They sent the jeep out and kept circling for about five minutes. Then they brought more Guard in and they had the gas masks on and everything. So, we kind of figured something was going to happen. They started lofting the tear gas. After they–well, someone had thrown a rock at the jeep and the jeep went back and that’s when they started sending the men out. As they came up the hill, they started shooting the tear gas and kids were throwing it back and everyone was, you know, laughing and cheering although it wasn’t a funny situation at all.
We had drawn back up over Taylor Hall as the Guard was coming up over the hill, and I had retreated back to what I thought was a safe place–that was the parking lot at Prentice, all the way back. I figured nothing is going to happen here, so I stayed there and I was watching. As they came down the hill, there was, I don’t–you know, they said a lot of kids were throwing rocks–I don’t think there were that many. I wouldn’t say any more than thirty, if there could be a number estimated. So, the kids were throwing rocks. I didn’t know about the steel that was said to be thrown. They said there was steel–parts of steel thrown and I don’t think that was true. I don’t know if they found it or what. But the kids that were throwing rocks, I don’t think they knew–had any idea that the Guard would fire or that they had live ammunition.
And so, as we were standing in the parking lot, they were down on that practice field and they said they were surrounded. They were surrounded by spectators. The number of activists that were pelting them with rocks was no comparison to the people that were just standing around on top of Taylor Hill and all the way around to the parking lot to where we were. So I guess the Guard had tried to bluff them there by kneeling down–sending a few men out and kneeling down and pointing into the crowd. That was kind of eerie. That really started things. And then they had–I don’t know if they had run out of tear gas or were going to get back to get more, but they could have quelled it I think, by using even a lot of tear gas. They wouldn’t have to resort to that. So, they went back up the hill, they got just to the crest and we had moved up to the front of the parking lot, in front of a car. As they had went up to the top of the hill, they stopped and they made that formation, and I thought to myself, “God, they’re going to shoot.”
And so, I had heard something just before the barrage–I don’t know if I am imagining that I heard a shot, or if it was just an echo of the barrage that started. There was probably a lot of echo going on between the buildings. I had thought I heard a single shot, and I had fallen down behind a car and pushed the girl I was with down behind a car. We waited for the barrage to stop. People were just completely horrified. They didn’t know–I don’t think they ever thought they were going to shoot. And if they did, like I said, they didn’t have live ammunition. So, as I got up, I turned around, and the window of the Volkswagen that was behind us was completely blown out. And that just–I was worthless, I just couldn’t move. And so, we had gotten up and we started walking toward Prentice and they were carrying–some kids were being carried up to Prentice that were shot. The one girl that was killed, that Allison, she was just in that parking lot. We walked by her and you know, I was–she was completely in shock. So we had walked up to Prentice and the people were just looking out of the dorm windows like it was a show, and we yelled if anyone had called an ambulance that nobody had known. So, we went in and somebody had placed a call and I guess the ambulances were already sent. So, after they had come, we waited around a while and then we started walking back to my apartment. We had to go all the way around the campus because we didn’t even want to go back towards Taylor Hall, so we walked all the way around and stayed here for a while. I took her home and I ended up staying in Ravenna because they had closed the town up. We’d stopped at Robinson to visit someone that was already in the hospital for other reasons, and I guess they had a real mess there.
[End of Tape 1]
[Beginning of Tape 2]
[Harold Mayer]: Continuation of David Rakich.
[David Rakich]: After I had left Kent, I went to Ravenna and I’d driven this girl I was with back home. We had stayed there and right after we had left city, they had closed it off; so we had found out on the radio, so I couldn’t get back in. Later, I had also found that they had closed the school for the remainder of the week, so I decided to go home, [unintelligible] turnpike exit home.
In relation to the questions about when did I go to the Union first, I went to the Union after my 7:45 class; I usually do, anyhow, to have coffee and talk to friends. And I stayed there until I heard about the rally.
The second question was about the number of stones thrown at the jeep while it circled the Commons area. I had seen one stone and I remember that specifically because the one police officer they had sitting in the jeep using the megaphone–microphone type thing had said, “Look out, they’re throwing rocks,” and the jeep swerved back and everyone down front was laughing, and they thought it was funny, at his comment. But I only saw one rock and it just bounded against the jeep. Also, just lately, this weekend, I was downtown and I don’t see the hassling stopping at all in the community. We were down in front of Orville’s–we had gone to Orville’s, and as we went in, they had four police officers stationed in front of Orville’s and they had cars going around the block at certain intervals, stopping. As we came out, we went to the Rendezvous and there was a student walking down the street carrying a pop bottle, a Pepsi bottle. He was drinking the Pepsi, and I didn’t think he could take it into JB’s where he was going, so he put it outside against the wall. He was just ready to walk in when one of the officers stopped him, picked the pop bottle up, escorted him to a car which had just pulled up and stopped, they frisked him, smelled the bottle to see if there could be alcohol or kerosene for a Molotov cocktail or something. They had taken the bottle, put it in the car with the two other officers, and put the student in the car and took him to jail. That’s just what’s continuing. I don’t think it is going to stop [unintelligible].
[recording resumes after a short break]
[Harold Mayer]: Following is a statement by Dr. Seymour Baron, chairman of the Psychology Department of Kent State University.
[Seymour Baron]: Well, this is Sey Baron now recording, concerning the events leading up to the shooting deaths of four students on May 4th, 1970. I can start by talking briefly about what occurred on May 2nd, which was the night that the ROTC building went up in flames.
After taking my wife out to dinner that evening, we were coming back into town on Route 59 from Ravenna, when a policeman stopped us and told us that there was trouble at the University. We had to go around via another route and stopped off at the house of Dr. Horace A. Page. When we arrived there, Jane Page told us that Hal had been called out to go to the University to help cool things down.
I left my wife there and went to the University myself, parking my car in the small parking lot between McGilvrey and Kent Halls. At first, all seemed quiet, but then as I walked towards Main Street, I heard a great number of voices. There was rather a large crowd of students walking down Main Street towards town.
When I arrived there, I discovered that there were a number of students–not many, maybe a dozen or so–who seemed in one way or another to be leading the group. These were students who were taking trash cans and throwing them into the middle of the street and jumping on top of them and screaming and yelling. I heard other students saying to each other, “They shouldn’t do that. Why are they doing such crazy things?” My impression, then, was that many of the students who were there that evening were, in effect, bystanders but not necessarily active participants in what was going on.
As I was standing there watching all this, suddenly one student yelled, “The Guard, the Guard!” I looked toward the right, which was toward Ravenna on Route 59 on Main Street. I remember I was standing near the library and indeed, I saw a convoy of cars and what looked like trucks, and indeed, what at first seemed to be tanks but later turned out to be personnel carriers, were coming down the street. A real panic seemed to set in and the people in the crowd raced out of the street and started running up onto the lawn of the University, near the library. I decided to simply stand on the sidewalk and watch to see what happened.
Suddenly, it became clear to me that missiles were being thrown at this Guard convoy. I heard some bottles smashing and heard and saw some rocks and stones being thrown out at this Guard convoy. At that point, I realized that I was in a dangerous position and quickly left. The crowd seemed to be moving south between the library and South Lincoln and I followed in that general direction and observed some people throwing stones at some of the lamps along the walks of the campus. I also heard a good deal of plate glass being broken.
I approached the small information booth which is in the parking lot near the library and noticed that the glass was being smashed out of the windows there and somebody was trying to set fire to that building. They were lighting bits of newspaper and things of that nature. I quickly went towards that building and by the time I arrived there, there was some other faculty and students who were attempting to put the fire out. I assisted in doing this. After this, it became clear that a number of students were drifting over toward the Administration Building and I also felt that probably the ROTC building would be a target for whoever it was that was creating these disturbances. I went over to the ROTC building near the Union and went in to help Page there.
At one point, a fire truck came up, trying to get through the barricade to the fire. Hal and I had two students pull the extensions out that supported the blockade–blockading chain with the yellow and black board attached and we grabbed these things and threw them away so the fire engine could get through. Apparently, there was some tear gas on this post because when Hal touched his face he experienced a serious burning sensation. From then on then in, there was nothing much for us to do but simply watch the flames consume the ROTC building.
At one point, I saw several people whom I took to be students, who, while I could not prove that they were involved in the setting of the fire, nevertheless I felt sure they were. I spoke to them, telling them what I thought they were doing is being a terrible thing indeed. Some of the responses made by one of these people was that the professors were not much good anyway. I told him, in some anger, that I thought he was totally ineducable and I felt that it was inappropriate for him to be in college anyhow. If I could see a picture of this person, I feel I could identify him.
We just watched the building go up in flames, heard the rounds of ammunition go off as a result of being exposed to the fire, and Hal and I left. I had to be out of town on Sunday, but on Monday, May 4th, I went to my office at my usual time and planned to leave my–
[End of Tape 2]
[Beginning of Tape 3]
[Harold Mayer]: This is a continuation of Dr. Baron’s statement.
[Seymour Baron]: Well, I teach an introductory class which meets from 9:55 to 10:45 on Monday morning. I planned not to talk about my original topic, but rather was going to discuss my feelings concerning the ROTC fire. Well, I’m sorry about these periods, I keep getting the feeling that I’m dictating a letter and I’ll try to leave them out. Probably the main message I tried to communicate during the course of this lecture was my own personal abhorrence over the use of violence and trying to propound any particular social, political, or economic feeling. I felt, I told the students, that those people who had committed the arson were indeed criminals and the likes of one would have no hesitancy in identifying them if I had any idea who they were. I think I probably talked about my views of the American political system and hopefully how it should function. I talked about the need of trying to keep from using violence and the use of appropriate procedures to try and settle some of the problems that we had on campus. After this lecture, a number of students and I discussed some of the things I said.
Finally, I returned to my office at about 11 o’clock and spent a short time there and then found a note on my desk saying that the noonday exercise program that I go to every day was canceled. I decided, however, that I would go to the gym anyhow since I had my running shoes with me and that I would change clothes up in the gym and go out to run. I did this, but on the way over I ran into Gene Wenninger who also is one of the runners and he told me that the gym had been taken over by the National Guard and that we couldn’t get in there. We then ran into Hal Kipner, the ombudsman, and Kip, Gene, and I, upon Kip’s suggestion, decided to get to the top of the Student Activity Center Building to observe what was happening down on The Commons.
What we saw was a mass of students who were on The Commons, gesticulating in the direction of the Guards in all kinds of ways. Some trees obscured my view of the Guard and so I could see only a portion of the field and I could see the students very clearly and also could see the bell and see a part of Taylor Hall. I did notice that on the roof of Johnson Hall there was a Guardsman with a pair of binoculars surveying the area. Also, I saw a person whom I took to be a Guardsman at the–on the roof at the corner of Taylor Hall, and I observed a tripod up there and I remember commenting to Gene Wenninger, “I hope to heavens that fellow up there doesn’t have a machine gun.” As it turned out later, this person was wearing a similar–a uniform similar to the Guard’s uniform, that was actually using a camera to take long-distance shots of the scene below.
There was a good deal of screaming and yelling down on the field, but as far as I could tell, the bystanders–which is what I was–sort of felt that this was not going to turn into anything terribly serious, and there was almost a sense of a kind of a picnic going on. In any event, very shortly I began to see tear gas grenades flying from the direction of the Guard to the students, and then I saw several students who had gas masks on, or who had handkerchiefs tied across their faces, grab some of these missiles and throw them back toward the Guard. The Guard then came into view on The Commons and as we were standing there, a Guardsman shot a pepper gas shell up towards the Student Activity Center and it exploded about 50 yards behind and to the left of me.
Gene Wenninger told me later that two shells were shot up at us. I couldn’t imagine why a Guardsman would shoot shells up at us. We were at least 100 yards away from the scene of the activity and we were clearly bystanders and we were clearly doing nothing of any hostile nature whatever. My impression at the time was that this could only be attributed to a very badly trained, badly frightened, and somewhat incompetent individual who was going to be shooting teargas shells at any group of people he happened to catch in his line of vision. I got a good whiff of this pepper gas, and I must say that it’s a highly unpleasant business. It makes your face burn and your nasal mucosa burn like fire. We got off of the top of the Student Activity Center very quickly and I was standing behind the Student Activity Center near Johnson Hall, up on a grassy area, when suddenly I heard this tremendous volley of shots go off. My estimate at the time was that there was anywhere between 25 and 50 shots that I heard. My own feeling was that surely these were not real shells that were being fired, that they must be blanks. But that in the unlikely event that real shells were being fired, that surely they were being fired over the heads of the crowd to try to frighten them away. Suddenly, a girl came running around the corner of Johnson Hall and saw me and said, “My God, they’re killing them, they’re killing them!” I told her that she shouldn’t be running around spreading rumors of this sort, that things were bad enough as they were. And she said, “This is no rumor. I saw some students who were killed.” At this point, I went around the corner of Johnson Hall and proceeded to the rear of Taylor Hall, where I came across a crowd of people, including Ray Myers and Glenn Frank and quite a few others. A young man was lying on a stretcher with a bullet hole through his left shoulder. The general atmosphere of the place was, to put it mildly, hysterical. While I was there, one young girl fainted and was cared for by other students. I yelled for somebody to get into Taylor Hall and call an ambulance and somebody said that an ambulance had already been dispatched. This, by the way, must have been somewhere around 1:15.
I then tried to help comfort the wounded person and a number of people formed a ring around him and kept the crowd away from him. There was a good deal of screaming and sobbing, and the wounded victim was obviously in great pain and was also suffering from shock. He was able to move his fingers and it was my guess that no bone had been broken and that he had not had some serious nerve damage. In any event, an ambulance arrived and we funneled him into the ambulance and off he went. At this point, I came down around the south side of Taylor Hall, towards the Student Union and saw that the same thing was going to happen all over again. That is, there were students massing on the hillside near Taylor Hall. The Guardsmen were back behind there roped down at the other end of The Commons, and as far as I could tell, the whole thing was going to be repeated.
I decided something had to be done to stop another catastrophe and frankly, as far as I was concerned, the next time might be even worse. In my mind’s eye, I could see 100-150 students being slaughtered on that field by these Guardsmen. I cut across The Commons and went to the place where the Guardsmen were located and asked the captain there if he was the commanding officer and he said he wasn’t. I said, “I want to speak to the commanding officer.” He said, “That man in the suit down there is the commanding officer.” In all of the confusion, it was difficult for me to understand that what he meant was that the commanding officer was wearing a business suit. Finally, he made it clear to me that the man in the business suit was indeed the general in command. I went down to see the general and told him that I felt that another confrontation with these students was going to lead to further violence and bloodshed. He told me that he was sorry for what had happened, that they were simply doing their job, and that he knew his business. My response to him was that knowing his business was not going to be very helpful if they killed more students. At this point he told an officer standing next to me to “Take this man away.” Then, indeed, this officer grabbed me–
[End of Tape 3]
[Beginning of Tape 4]
[Harold Mayer]: This is the second continuation of Dr. Baron’s statement.
[Seymour Baron]: This officer grabbed me by the arm and started to pull me away from the General, who turned out to be General Canterbury. I raised my arm away from this fellow and told the General that I was trying to help, that I was a professor here, and that I didn’t think it was going to be of much assistance if he continued killing students. I said, then, that I was going to go back to the students on the hill and see if I could do anything to help cool the situation there. I then proceeded across the field, went back to the students, and started to talk to them. I was rather impressed, at this point, that many of them seemed really quite willing to listen. That is, as soon as I started talking, a number of them said, “Shut up, shut up, let’s listen. Let’s sit down and let’s listen.” While it was perfectly obvious that not many of them were going to be able to hear me, unless some kind of amplification were available. It turned out that somebody did come along with a bullhorn and I started speaking to the students and I told them such things as my own belief in ROTC as a way of producing a civilian army, as a way of producing soldiers who really disliked the military intentionally, as a way of making certain that we wouldn’t have a class of younger officers as they had in Germany, which wouldn’t–who would indeed be more than willing to lead us into all kinds of military adventures. I then talked to them about possibly being able to sit down together and talk this thing over and do our best to try and avoid any further bloodshed and difficulties. Glenn Frank was there, Michael [Ney?] was there, some other graduate students were there, and we were all involved in trying to calm the situation down. Somebody told me that I wasn’t being heard over on the side, and the next thing I knew, I had a bullhorn in each hand and was aiming the bullhorns toward the largest group of people that I could aim it towards.
It was rather clear to me that there were a number of people in the crowd that simply did not want to be calmed down. Some of them kept agitating for me to sit down, some of them kept screaming that they had to kill the Guards who committed the murders, that they were never going to leave the field, that it was better to die on the field there rather than go to Vietnam. My only reply over and over again was that they were unarmed, that the Guard had already committed violence, that they had killed a number of people, that it was perfectly clear that if they did it once, they would be willing to do it again, that there was absolutely no reason for them to be killed and to die, and thus to be denied of the opportunity of trying to set things right that they were complaining about, for example, concern over the Vietnam Cambodian problem.
I told them that I, too, was deeply committed to fight against the Indo-Chinese policy that the president has been pressing. I said that I, as a faculty member, knew of no single faculty member on campus who did not oppose the Vietnam War. Although since that time, I have spoken to one professor who, in fact, does favor Nixon’s policy. But at the time I spoke to the students I didn’t know that, so I was really telling the truth. I said that we were going to be having a faculty meeting later in the afternoon and that I would go to the faculty meeting and tell everybody there what I had seen–the horrible thing that I had seen.
Of course, during all this period at the time, there was a great deal of shouting and yelling and some people felt it was horrible when I suggested that maybe the best thing we could do is sit down and talk things over while we were having something to eat. In fact, I suggested that somebody might be able to get over to the cafeteria and bring over some sandwiches. And sure enough, it turns out that in a little while some people came over with a bag of popsicles, which we spread around and of which I got one because I was suffering from a sore throat at this point, and had sort of almost lost my voice. Glenn Frank also spoke to the group and begged with them and pleaded with them to leave. Indeed, at one point Glenn was so involved that I felt he was going to be overcome with emotion. I think the students really responded to this and they understood that Glenn was really speaking to try to help.
Finally [unintelligible] the group moving off the hill, toward the direction of Main Street. They told–they asked me where we should go and I said, “What you had better do is you had better go to the–towards Main Street, then get back to your dormitories or to the places where you live and stay there until you get further word. At just at the point that the students were beginning to break up, a contention to–well, let me back up. Before the students broke up, I told them that I was once again going to go back to the Guard and appeal to them to put their weapons down and see if we could stop any further bloodshed from developing.
This, I did. I walked across the field again, all this time, by the way, carrying my running shoes with me, and went directly to General Canterbury and said, “You’ve got to give them some kind of a sign. You’ve got to give me some help and the others of us who are working over there–you’ve got to give us some help in getting those students off the field, and the way you can do that–one of the best ways you can do that,” I said, “was to see that your men lay their weapons down.” It was very interesting; there was a young Guardsman standing directly behind the general and he says, “Oh, you mean like this?” and he started to actually lay his rifle down on the ground and Canterbury said, “Don’t do that.” I said, “General, for heaven’s sakes, you’ve got to make a sign. You’ve got to do something to convince those kids over there that you’re going to be backing off from this confrontation.” I said, “Perhaps what you could do is have the soldiers lay their guns down by their sides where they could be very quickly reached, or even stack them up against the jeep just behind them.” I said, “It wouldn’t do you any harm from a military point of view. You could certainly grab them quickly enough if it were necessary for you to do so. He said, “No,” he couldn’t do that. But finally, he said, “I’ll put them at parade rest,” because I said, “You’ve got to get the guns down from the ready position that the Guard held them in.”
He told the Guardsmen to put their guns down and the guns were placed down at parade rest, which means that the butts were on the ground. As I recall it, I heard a cheer go up from the students on the hill when this maneuver was executed. I told Canterbury that I was going to head straight back to the students now and that I thought I was now going to be able to move them off the field. And it was at this point that the students started to go away and I told them to head toward Main Street and then back over toward their dormitories, when all of a sudden, directly behind us, up the hill toward Taylor Hall, appeared another contingent of Guardsmen with their guns raised. At this point, I really became deeply concerned and felt that this would really blow these–rather, this crowd into all kinds of irrational behavior. And, indeed, some of them began to scream and run and I remember yelling through the bullhorn, “Don’t run, don’t run, don’t panic! Take it easy, just continue walking away, and those Guardsmen will leave you alone.” And sure enough, nothing else happened.
But, I must say, I was tremendously impressed with what I considered to be the absolute stupidity of sending those Guardsmen up behind us just when these kids were beginning to move off the hill. Dick Bredemeier, who was of great assistance and a student whom I think was named Barker, kind of stayed with me and were managing to supply me with the bullhorns when I needed them–they performed a really, extremely useful function in that they were able to spot clusters of students whom they felt might cause trouble and what they said to me was that “Sey, you seem to be able to move these kids and we’ll just make certain that if we spot something going on we’ll get you over there–”
[End of Tape 4]
[Beginning of Tape 5]
[Harold Mayer]: This is the third continuation of Dr. Baron’s statement.
[Seymour Baron]: “--and if we spot something going on, we’ll get you over there and we’ll keep these bullhorns with you,’ and sure enough, that’s what they did. In a sense, they [unintelligible] students who were possibly going to be getting involved in more trouble. Twice I had to bargain with a Lieutenant [Greenly?] who was a person in charge of a large number of state highway patrolmen. At one point they were marching near Johnson Hall toward a cluster of students that had still not broken up and I went down to [Greenly?] and said, “Lieutenant, you’ve really got to stop here and give me a chance to move those kids away.” And he said, “Well, we can’t let them stay there. It’s illegal and unlawful, and I’ll give you five minutes.” And I said, “Well, I’m sorry, but Lieutenant, you can’t just give me five minutes. I’ve got to have time to move them.” And I said, “Hold on, and I’ll get them out of there.” Of course, by “I” I meant the number of us who were working on the hill were doing this.
[Greenly?] started walking up the hill again with his men behind him, and I went back and saw a Major back there. A Major of the State Highway Patrol. And I must say, for the first time I felt I was talking with a really rational man who understood the situation. He said, “Don’t worry, we’re not going to push the State Highway Patrolmen in there. We’ll give you all the time you need to get those students out of there. He was very loose and easy and relaxed ,and I thought he was doing a really fine job. I don’t know his name, but whoever he was, I really feel quite grateful to him.
The students were moved away from the hill and then Bredemeier and another–and this other fellow, Barker–I think his name was Barker–told me that there was a cluster of students who were beginning to knot up around the tennis courts over toward Main Street. So, the three of us headed across the field, got over to those tennis courts and sure enough, there were again a number of students who were clustering and we really had a push to try to get them out of there. Again, Lieutenant [Greenly?] came along with his contingent of men behind him, and once again I went over to him and begged him to “Please hold up and we would move the students out of there.” I said to him, I said, “Lieutenant, you’re not going to do any good anymore by smashing some heads with those clubs,” that “enough damage had been done, enough blood had been shed,” and that, “for heaven’s sakes, please cooperate with me and we would be able to move those students away.”
The students, of course, were gesticulating and giving him the pointed finger sign and yelling all kinds of dirty names at the patrolmen. And [Greenly?] at one point said, “We’re not going to stand for that.” And I said to [Greenly?], I said, “Those are just dirty names; they don’t mean a thing. Certainly, you’re not going to smash anybody’s head open for calling you a dirty name. I said, “Why don’t you just stay here and hold it and I’ll see to it, with the help that I’m getting from other people, that these students move out of there.” Well, [Greenly?] did stop and we were able to get these students broken up and streaming away. But, again, I was under the impression that there were a number of them that were really hard cases. People who were simply trying not to leave, wanting to stay, wanting to have other people stay, wanting to develop another confrontation. I learned the name of one of these persons later on. I’d prefer not to put the name down on this tape, but if you’re interested, I will be happy, Harold, to tell you about it and tell you what my impressions are about this individual.
At this point, Bredemeier and Barker got me back to the hill and up on top of the–near Taylor Hall where that little umbrella-type thing was and there was another cluster of students there and we broke them up. And finally, Bredemeier said, “Let’s go over toward the Student Union. There may be a cluster of students developing there.” We did get over there–oh, I must add at this point that one of the things I told the students on the hill was that the Guardsmen were a bunch of really frightened, scared kids, many of them not older than the students on the hill. What I in effect was really trying to do was to try to bring into some kind of perspective the relationship between the Guardsmen and the students. I was trying to tell them that these Guardsmen, after all, were human, too, and that they were really very badly frightened. And indeed, during the time I had spent talking with Canterbury, my own observations of these Guardsmen were that they were very frightened. Quite a number of them looked to me like they would rather have been anywhere else in this world than on The Commons on that day.
Well anyway, Bedemeier and Barker got me over to the–in front of the Student Union and there were a number of people there but nothing serious seemed to be developing. And just then, suddenly, as I was standing there, a jeep pulled up in that little turnaround area behind Merrill Hall, and I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is terrible. Now we’re going to have something start again.” But then nothing did seem to happen and suddenly I realized that the jeep had stopped and two Guardsmen had gotten out and they had their rifles there and that they were up against the large window at the corner of Merrill Hall and were surrounded by about 20 people, many of whom I had been speaking to up on the hill.
Bedemeier, Barker, and I got over there very quickly and my observation of this was that here were two Guardsmen who were really absolutely white with terror. The shorter, rather pudgy fellow was practically in tears and was saying, “I don’t want to be here. I’d rather be home where I belong.” The students surrounding them, of course, were swearing at them, calling them dirty names, calling them murderers and things of that sort. And I told some of the students whom I had spoken to on the hill, I said to them, “Didn’t I tell you that they were scared kids? Look at these two guys, aren’t they scared kids?” And I remember one of the students saying, “You’re right, look at them, they are scared kids.” And that was really all that was needed to break that little cluster of people up, and they just simply kind of dispersed and started heading out away from the area of conflict.
Well, then, Bedemeier said to me there may be something developing around the front of the Administration Building [unintelligible]. We came to the Administration Building and I saw President White surrounded by people. He looked like a dead man, frankly. It was really kind of a horrible situation–the place was in chaos. I saw Lou Harris there and everybody looked like the whole place was in absolute chaos.
Finally, I realized that the crowds had been broken up and so I decided to leave. I gave Bredemeier and the student the bullhorns and went up to my office and sat down there for about 15 minutes just trying to absorb what had happened and trying to catch my breath. I called my wife up and asked her to meet me down near the furniture store–Bissler’s store–I didn’t want her coming into town. And then I started to walk downtown.
I walked down Main Street and passed one of the fraternity houses. Some of the boys in there recognized me and stopped me and wanted to talk to me about what had happened. Before I knew it, there were about 25 or 30 of them around there asking me what had happened and apparently some of them had seen me up on the hill. I told them that as far as I knew the University was closed, that the best thing for them to do would be to simply pack up and leave for home, that the University was closed for the rest of the week. That is, until–through Friday until the following Monday. I didn’t know at the time that the University was going to be closed for the rest of the quarter. After talking with the students for about 10 minutes or so, I left and continued on my way, left on Main Street and just as I got to the–
[End of Tape 5]
[Beginning of Tape 6]
[Harold Mayer]: The fourth continuation of Dr. Baron’s statement.
[Seymour Baron]: --a hotel on Depeyster and Main. I once again saw something which was kind of shocking–there were police on Main and police on Depeyster and they were pointing rifles up at one of the windows at the top of this Kent-Ellis Hotel. It really seemed like something out of a bad dream, because in some of the windows there were girls and young fellows kind of smiling and looking out of the windows as if nothing were happening, and the whole thing seemed so incongruous and bizarre to me that I could practically not incorporate it into my usual patterns of rationality about how the world operates. Well, finally I got down to the corner, my wife was waiting for me, and off we went. That’s about the end of this narrative portion of this story. If there are any questions that any of you wish to put to me, I will certainly be glad to cooperate with you and answer them to the best of my ability.
[recording resumes after a short break]
[Lee Rothstein]: My name is Lee Rothstein. I live at 1524 [unintelligible] behind the Union, behind the fence of The Commons. I think one of the most disturbing things that I saw is that, I believe Dr. Baron and a man from the Geology Department–I’m not sure, I think his name is Dr. Frank–was out there, and he had the students sitting quietly on the grounds and they were pretty much paying attention to what they were saying. And the National Guard marched down the hill, in a–marching parallel to each other, and dispersed the people that were sitting on the grounds quietly. Now, regardless of any rules or laws that might have been in effect, an attempt had been made to establish quietude and for all intents and purposes, the National Guard disturbed that and that–I mean, it seems to me that their sole purpose for being on campus was to ensure peace.
Additionally, throughout the entire day after the shootings and from what I understand, from what other people have told me previous to the shootings, police were marching around on campus for really no purpose. They’d march to a spot in line with their clubs and then they would march back to some other spot. And they really didn’t seem to understand what they were doing and they probably didn’t have any purpose in doing it. Really, what they accomplished was, I think, tending to make the students more hostile towards them. It appeared as a military operation and that’s the way the students understood it. That’s really about all I have to say.
There’s one other thing I’d like to make clear. It seems that people who both support the National Guard or support the students, which seems kind of silly to do either, take the actions of the students or the National Guard as all or none. There were some National Guardmen who showed unbelievable composure considering the circumstances. I witnessed four at the back of the Union that took some of the most unbelievable language from the students and just maintained their composure. So, it is possible to train men to do that. I witnessed some others that were very antagonistic and were provoking in their behavior. I think that, if any understanding of the events that took place on campus during this time is to come about, it has to be understood that it wasn’t any group doing any one thing. Many individuals from any particular group were doing many kinds of things.
[End of Tape 6]
Recorded statements of Kent State University student David Rakich, professor Seymour Baron, and student Lee Rothstein, conducted by the CKSUV.
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