May 7, 2008
by Matt Fredmonsky and Dave O'Brien
Kent -- An anti-war march and protest in downtown Kent following the
May 4 commemoration of the 38th anniversary of the 1970 shootings at
Kent State University resulted in four arrests.
Four protesters who sat in the middle of the West Main Street bridge
and refused to comply with Kent police officers' orders to clear the
road, were arrested and charged with failure to comply with the order
or signal of a police officer, a first-degree misdemeanor, according
to a Kent PD press release.
The four arrested included Yvette Coil, a KSU conflict management
major, organizer with the Cleveland chapter of Iraq Veterans Against
the War and wife of a veteran of the Gulf War; Aaron Brooks, a local
musician; Bill Arthrell, a former KSU student and Cleveland resident;
and an unidentified woman.
The march, organized by the Kent State Anti-War Committee and Portage
Peace Coalition, began on campus and proceeded west along East Main
Street, stopping at the KSU U.S. Air Force ROTC building to post
paper peace signs on the doors.
It continued on city sidewalks until it reached the corner of West
Main Street and Franklin Avenue.
Police clad in riot helmets and armed with pepper-ball guns tried to
re-open the bridge to vehicle traffic shortly after 4:30 p.m., about
an hour into the downtown gathering.
While early on officers stood by and allowed the protesters to chant,
dance, play music and hang signs from the bridge, an officer in a
police cruiser eventually used a public address system to order the
protesters to vacate the road.
Only minutes before his arrest, Arthrell told a Record-Courier
reporter that he had been arrested six times during the "Tent City"
protests of the late 1970s, when KSU built the Memorial Gym Annex at
the site of the shootings, and 12 times overall during protest actions.
"I'm pleasantly astounded by these kids today," said Arthrell, a
teacher in the Cleveland schools.
"They're really making a stand for a better world. This is
democracy's finest moment, when people take the initiative to change
something on their own."
After the arrests, traffic slowly began to cross the bridge while
remaining protesters continued to linger at the edge of the sidewalk
and verbally harassed several drivers.
Noah, a member of the Kent State Anti-War Committee who declined to
give his last name, used a bullhorn to start a chant of "Let them
go!" at the downtown gazebo while officers processed the four people
across Main Street.
Noah led the remaining group of protesters to Kent police
headquarters, where they continued with a chant of "No justice, no
peace, ..... the police."