Stressful Moments in 1970 WVU Anti-War Protest Documented in Student's Photos

May 6, 2015

Stirring images of Morgantown police officers marching through West Virginia University’s campus, with gas masks and large sticks, were captured May 7, 1970 by a student with his small black and white camera. Morgantown attorney Dan Ringer was a 21-year-old physics major when on a third day of what had been quiet anti-war demonstrations he decided to go check-out the growing crowd about mid-day.  

Songs, speeches and chants were heard throughout the afternoon.
Credit Dan Ringer

Ringer is sharing some of his photographs on our website, and recently shared his recollections of that day with Senior Producer Suzanne Higgins.

Students protested U.S. involvement in Viet Nam, Cambodia, the draft, and the Kent State shootings which occured just days before the demonstration.
Credit Dan Ringer

   

With a backdrop of very recognizable buildings to those familiar with the campus, photo after photo captures a really fascinating scene. A couple thousand WVU students largely divided into two groups, aligned along University Avenue.

Students, faculty, and local residents voiced either their support or opposition to U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War, May 7, 1970.
Credit Dan Ringer

  A few students are seen perched in trees, others are leaning over balconies. Policemen are armed with large guns and tear gas. Faces are serious, pensive, clearly wondering what might happen next.

Police use tear gas to clear University Ave. of demonstrators, May 7, 1970.
Credit Dan Ringer

This warm spring day occurred less than a week after the U.S. commenced bombing of Cambodia, days after the Kent State shootings where 4 students were killed and 11 injured, and less than 6 months after the reinstatement of the military draft.

Several university demonstrations across the country that week erupted into violence.

Police watched with their gas masks on, and holding long, wooden axe handles.
Credit Dan Ringer

Eventually Gov. Arch Moore sent in a detachment of state police to break up the crowd at WVU.