Days Of Protest Past - 1970

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As the Spring of 1970 turned quickly and decidedly violent, the nature of student protest to the Vietnam War escalated to a dramatic new level. Peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins were co-opted by bloody clashes between police, National Guard and students. Gone were the mere threats of armed retaliation, instead (as was disclosed in hearings after the Kent State shootings), live ammunition and buckshot became standard issue in quelling disturbances, replacing blanks and salt pellets. And since teargas was a fait acompli since the first Anti-War Protests in the early 60's, wet towels and handkerchiefs were already standard demonstration garb.

As Spring groaned on, fears mounted that, once the Summer break for most college campuses was over, the violence would escalate even further. And fears that the Autumn of 1970 would boil over into anarchy got many in the mainstream media concerned. It was just one more thing to worry about while you were carrying a sign.

So shortly after the Kent and Jackson State shootings, NBC did a special program on the changes in student protest and assembled a group of student leaders from various campuses on the East coast to discuss it.

Hosted by noted NBC reporter Edwin Newman, the panel, which consisted of Student leaders from Hunter College, Lehman College, Harvard, Long Island University and a representative of student activists in New York High Schools, answered questions and gave views on what the (then) current climate in Student protest was.

It's doubtful any lightning rod solutions came out of it - but as mainstream media went at the time, asking questions and getting points of view was a way of attempting to get at the core of some issues.

Something mainstream media seems loathed to do now - opting instead for a sort of "ready, fire, aim" approach to information gathering.

Maybe it's a good thing mainstream media hasn't been paying much attention to OWS. I don't think the cause of the Vietnam Anti-War Movement would have been well served if everyone protesting were characterized by the mainstream as a load of "bongo-playing weed heads".

Here is the NBC Special Program from May 17, 1970 featuring Edwin Newman and a panel of College Students.

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