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On This Day in IUPUI History: May 7, 1970

May 7, 1970. 

On this day, IUPUI students marched for peace and the end of the war in Indochina. Onomatopoeia, the student newspaper of the "downtown" campus of IUPUI, estimated that the marchers numbered 1500 (the Indianapolis Star, which gave the march front-page attention, estimated the number at 750).

The IUPUI march occurred amid national ferment against the long war in Vietnam. Days before, on April 30, President Richard M. Nixon announced that the United States had launched military operations in Cambodia, contiguous to South Vietnam. In the days that followed students all over the country protested the spreading war. Many college and university campuses were scenes of violence.

As well, in the background to the IUPUI march was police and military violence inflicted on student protesters around the United States. Three days earlier, on May 4, National Guard troops shot dead four students and wounded nine others at a protest at Kent State University in Ohio. Later, on May 15, police shot dead two students and wounded twelve more at Jackson State College in Mississippi. According to the Indianapolis Star, other protests by college students occurred in Indiana. Students at Franklin College staged a sit-in to block a bus carrying persons to receive military physicals, and a fire badly damaged the administration building at Valparaiso University. Other events occurred at Butler University, Indiana University-Bloomington, Ball State University, and Purdue University-West Lafayette.

The IUPUI march was peaceful. A rally started at 1pm in Military Park. At 3:30 students began to march past the State House, chanting, "What do we want?" "Peace!" "When do we want it?" "NOW!" They continued to Monument Circle, and ended at 4:15 (the Star said at 4:45) at the Federal Building (now the Federal Courts Building). According to the reporter for Onomatopoeia, marchers remained peaceful even after hot coffee and ice were thrown at them by onlookers.

The marchers protested the killings at Kent State. A graduate student from Kent State addressed the crowd twice, at one point collecting $800 from marchers to help defray medical costs of the Kent students shot by troops. The student reporter noted that 150 Indianapolis police officers were on the scene. They warned organizers that the display of Viet Cong flags would violate a city ordinance prohibiting the display of inflammatory banners or signs. Police arrested six for unfurling their flags outside the Federal Building. Another was arrested for jaywalking. The driver of a sound truck was also arrested for driving on the curb, and another student was taken into custody for "taunting an officer."

The war policies of the United States government roiled IUPUI students in the spring of 1970.

Onomatopoeia May 23, 1970

Are you interested in studying student protest at IUPUI during the Vietnam War? Visit IUPUI Special Collections and Archives. Email staff at speccoll@iupui.edu.

Updated May 07, 2019 by Editor Name Missing