The Violence of the
Perhaps the most serious
effect of the Antiwar Movement was the violence it wreaked on the nation. By 1967,
many anti-war activists believed that peaceful protests alone were not enough to influence
war policy, so they turned more militant, using civil disobedience, strikes, public
disruption, shouting down government speakers, and guerilla theatre to convey their
A List of Violence...
... at Jackson State College
The late 1960s saw the development of antiwar militancy as New Left activists lost
patience with nonviolence. But although this new violence affected all parts of the
nation, nowhere was it more evident than at the nations college campuses. In 1970,
civil disobedience held at Jackson State College (Mississippi) to protest Nixons
invasion of Cambodia resulted in a violent battle with police, state patrolmen, and the
National Guard. This battle ended tragically when the police fired 400 shots at a
dormitory, killing a student and an innocent local youth.
... at Columbia University
In 1968, Mark Rudd and the Columbia University SDS (Students for a Democratic Society)
held a rally protesting university complicity with the war and the construction of a
gymnasium in Morningside Park. But civil disobedience turned to violence when
confrontations with police, nightstick beatings, and brick throwing started to take place.
According to Rudd, the Columbia battles showed that "students are willing to fight
militantly for good goals ending racism, ending the war."
... at Kent State
The most tragic example of the campus violence brought on by the radical Antiwar Movement
was the 1970 rally held at Kent State in Ohio, protesting the presence of the ROTC on
campus. At Kent State, the fine line between violence and tragedy was crossed in a
skirmish between the students and the Ohio National Guard, called in by Mayor Satrom to
contain the protestors. This skirmish resulted in the fatal shootings of four people. Even
more tragically, only two of these four were active participants in the rally: the other
two were an innocent student walking to class and an ROTC cadet.
Paul Sogin, Mayor of Madison, Wisconson, recalls some of the violence occuring in his
RealVideo | AVI | Quicktime
|... at the University of Wisconsin
See the video clip (left) for a sample of the violence witnessed in Madison,
... at the Chicago Democratic Convention - 1968
Despite the tragic results of the events at colleges like Kent State, violence manifested
by the radical Antiwar Movement was not confined to college campuses. Violence also played
a role at the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention, when 5000 stormed the streets outside
the convention to protest the presidential nomination of pro-war Hubert Humphrey. The
protestors engaged 12000 police, 7500 Army troops, and 6000 National Guardsmen in street
war whose grim highlights included rock throwing, name-calling, mace, tear gas, and police
clubbing people to the ground. Perhaps protest leader Tom Hayden describes the event best
in saying, "If blood is going to flow, let it flow all over the city."
|... at the Chicago "Days of
In 1969, the Weathermen Underground, a faction of the Revolutionary Youth Movement and SDS
(Students for a Democratic Society), embarked on a romantic, nihilistic orgy of violence.
This violence was exemplified by Mark Rudds faction of the Weathermen and their
Chicago "Days of Rage" (to protest the trial of the "Chicago Eight"
antiwar protestors), during which the Weathermen wrought havoc on Chicago and participated
in street battles with police.
The Weathermen also terrorized the nation with their bombings, which destroyed the home of
a judge, part of the New York City police department, a ladies room in the U.S. Senate,
and a Pentagon restroom. These bombings set off a national bombing epidemic in the name of
antiwar protest: the U.S. Treasury estimates 5000 bombings across the nation between 1967
and 1970. One of these Weathermen-inspired bombings, at the University of Wisconsins
Army Mathematics Research Center, cost $6 million in damage as well as the life of an
innocent post-doctoral student.
Source: Dougan, Clark, A Divided Nation, Boston: Boston
Publishing Company, 1984.
Picture: Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech
Video: Video clip courtesy of PBS and "Vietnam: The War at