Kent State Protests Ends In Arrests
May 4 commemoration ends with arrests War protesters refuse to leave bridge in Kent
By Matt Fredmonsky and Dave O’Brien / Record-Courier
KENT, OH — An anti-war march and protest in downtown Kent following Sunday’s commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the May 4, 1970 shootings at Kent State University resulted in four arrests.
Four protesters who sat down in the middle of Kent’s West Main Street bridge and refused to comply with the order of Kent police officers to clear the road were arrested and charged with failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to a Kent Police Department press release.
The four arrested included Yvette Coil, a KSU conflict management major, organizer with the Cleveland chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and wife of a veteran of the Gulf War; Aaron Brooks, a local musician; Bill Arthrell, a former KSU student and Cleveland resident; and an unidentified woman.
The march, organized by the Kent State Anti-War Committee and the Portage Peace Coalition, began on campus and proceeded west along East Main Street, stopping at the KSU U.S. Air Force ROTC building in the Terrace Annex to post paper peace signs on the doors. It continued on city sidewalks until it reached the corner of West Main Street and Franklin Avenue.
Police clad in riot helmets and armed with pepper-ball guns attempted to re-open the bridge to vehicle traffic shortly after 4:30 p.m., approximately an hour into the downtown gathering. While early on officers stood by and allowed the protesters to chant, dance, play music and hang signs from the bridge, an officer in a police cruiser eventually used a public address system to order the protesters to vacate the road.
Only minutes before his arrest, Arthrell told a Record-Courier reporter that he had been arrested six times during the “Tent City” protests of the late 1970s, when KSU built the Memorial Gym Annex at the site of the shootings, and 12 times overall during protest actions.
“I’m pleasantly astounded by these kids today,” said Arthrell, a teacher in the Cleveland City Schools. “They’re really making a stand for a better world … This is democracy’s finest moment, when people take the initiative to change something on their own.”
After the arrests, traffic slowly began to cross the bridge while remaining protesters continued to linger at the edge of the sidewalk and verbally harassed several drivers. Noah, a member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee who declined to give his last name, used a bullhorn to start a chant of “Let them go!” at the downtown gazebo while officers processed the four people across Main Street near Home Savings Plaza.
Noah led the remaining group of protesters to Kent police headquarters at the corner of Haymaker Parkway and South Water Street where they continued with a chant of “No justice, no peace, f*** the police.”