George L. Smyth - May 7, 1970 - Morgantown, WV

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May 7, 1970 - Morgantown, WV

May 7, 1970 was the third day of protests against the Vietnam war at West Virginia University. Thousands of students had collected at Grumbein's Island in front of the student union building and effectively blocked traffic, chanting and giving speeches. The military draft had been reinstated, and fresh in everyone's mind was the Kent State killings, which had happened just a few days prior. On the wall of the student union building the jocks and frat boys lined up, yelling down at the protesters.

A senior in high school, I wandered down into the protest and started speaking with them. The trial of the Chicago Seven had concluded a few months prior to this and in speaking with one person I found out that I could read part of the trial transcript in Rolling Stone magazine (which was a tabloid at the time). Reading this brought to life the reality of the state of the country and led me to understand that things were not necessarily as they had been portrayed by politicians.

On this third day the police arrived in full force, dressed in riot gear and brandishing axe handles. Tear gas canisters eventually dispersed the crowd, but my life had been changed, I was no longer allowed to be innocent. Protest should be more than chanting "Hurray for our side," it should be about discussion and conversion.

credits

from We the Resilient, released May 11, 2018
George L Smyth: glsmyth.bandcamp.com

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