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Forgotten legends: the blockade of Euclid Avenue

Gregory Wu

Issue date: 4/24/09 Section: News
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As part of the College Scholars Program, Gregory Wu has sifted through Case Western Reserve's history to expose and examine parts of CWRU's legacy that have been forgotten through the ages. Today, Wu brings us one such long-forgotten story, of a time when political activism ran rampant at Case Western, and when a small band of dissidents was able to bring all of Euclid Avenue to a halt:

A typical day on Euclid Avenue will see hundreds of students crossing to and from the Main Quad. These miniature mobs often hold up traffic coming from Adelbert Road, but only briefly. This was not the case on May 5th 1970, when over 2,000 people blockaded the intersection. They were not people trying to get somewhere on time. This was a message. This was protest.

To understand what happened in May 1970, one must also understand also what was happening at the time. The United States was embroiled in the Vietnam War, and rumors of U.S. involvement in Cambodia were surfacing. At home, protests sprung up all over the nation, and were sometimes met with violence. Around the newly federated Case Western Reserve University, there was also local unrest, stemming from recent violent racial conflict as well as the Vietnam War.

Protests at CWRU started on May 2, beginning with the ROTC Air Force Program on campus. For anti-Vietnam protestors, the presence of ROTC was seen as the administration's approval of the Vietnam War. On May 2, over 50 students performed a sit-in at the ROTC's office in the basement of Yost Hall, flying a peace banner out the window as a signal of their occupation. Another 300 students stood outside, showing their support for this act of civil disobedience. Eventually the police managed to evict the protestors after many hours of standoff and the threat of legal and academic repercussions for those who did not submit to authority.

Shortly after the CWRU sit-in, tragedy struck on another Northeast Ohio college campus. The National Guard was called in to stop student protests at Kent State University, and after several misunderstandings violence ensued and four students died. Students everywhere were horrified, and this in turn would have implications for other college protests, including those at Case.
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    Marc Kivel

    posted 5/21/09 @ 10:54 AM EST

    A few additional comments on Mr. Wu's story:

    Many of the student leaders in the campus anti-war community were Case Reserve School of Library Science graduate students. (Continued…)

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    In This Issue


    • Alum shares experience as legal clerk for Supreme Court Justice
    • Forgotten legends: the blockade of Euclid Avenue
    • Hudson Relays
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    • Showing off: Research ShowCASE provides opportunity to present latest research
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