Reflections on a Peaceful Demonstration
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Turmoil on the college campus and community reaction to student demonstrations rose to new peaks in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, often leading to widespread bitterness and distrust. Demonstrators claimed the right of peaceful assembly and free speech to express deeply felt concern for American involvement in the Vietnam war, perceived hypocrisy in society, and other social issues. Citizens of the surrounding community reacted fearfully to the possibility of counterdemonstrations, unruly crowds and violence, often refusing to grant parade permits and demanding firm police action. The killing of students at Kent State by National Guardsmen called in for riot control shocked the entire nation, leading to hundreds of assemblies, tense confrontations, and the closing of some colleges. The heaviest responsibility for maintaining law and order falls upon the local police force who are in the unenviable position of carrying out orders to prevent disturbances, make arrests, and control crowds by force if necessary.