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Violent Anti-War Protest at Ward Circle Washington, D. C.


Protests against the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Cambodia typically occured near the Capitol and White House, but on the evening of May 6, 1970, over 1,000 American University students took to the streets near the university following the fatal shooting of four students at Kent State University in Ohio.

The students blocked rush hour traffic and the protest became violent.  When 280 police officers and 80 trainees tried to quell the protest and clear Ward Circle, students and on-lookers pelted police with rocks, eggs, bricks, and flowers. Five officers were reported injured.

The police teargassed the students, using roughly 40 baseball grenades and 20 gas gun shells. According to the Washington Post, “the carnival atmosphere that had prevailed at American University for much of the day turned to one of fright, as students ran from one building to another seeking treatment.”

City highschools also experienced walkouts.  The student council at Wilson High School held a mass meeting in the school’s stadium. The principal, however, reported that 96% of the students returned to their classes, many of which were devoted to discussions of the war.

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