Indiana University Archives Exhibits

Cambodia Strikes: Prelude

Indiana Daily Student, May 1, 1970, page 1

President tells nation: troops into Cambodia

On Thursday, April 30, 1970, President Nixon announced the deployment of several thousand American troops into Cambodia. He expressed that “this is not an invasion.”  The announcement, preceded by a decade of student dissent, was not well received by students at Indiana University. Upon hearing the announcement angry students began to aggregate in Dunn Meadow around 11:30 pm.  The protesters made their way to the Read Center, where a rumored panty-raid was occurring.  According to the Indiana Daily Student, “By the time the panty raid reached Forest Quest, the usual cries for panties had changed to cries of ‘get out of Cambodia’ and ‘to hell with Nixon.’”  The agitated crowd continued through campus, snowballing to a maximum of around 1,500 protesters. The group ended up back at Dunn Meadow, where they heard speeches made by fellow protesters, including Student Body President Keith Parker, who requested that the demonstraton remain peaceful.

After hearing rumors that National Guardsmen were assembling at the Courthouse, students made their way to the Courthouse at around 2:25 am.  A cry of “arm yourselves" was made when the group reached People’s Park.  Some individuals in the crowd pelted the Monroe County State Bank with bricks, breaking five windows, and a fight broke out between a couple of students and nearby hecklers.  Soon thereafter many of the protesters decided to leave.

Parker Makes Demands

An organized group of student protesters totalling 1,500 and 2,000 individuals met on Friday, May 1, at Dunn Meadow. Keith Parker addressed the crowd and chided the actions of students the night before (April 30), calling the actions “rampant mad-dog adventurism” and “left opportunism”.  Parker also presented the following five demands to the crowd, which soon thereafter were presented to the I.U. administration:

1. I.U. repudiates Nixon's policy in Southeast Asia and demands the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Southeast Asia
2. the University ends its complicity in Southeast Asia and allows the inspection of the financial records of the I.U. Foundation for evidence of government contracts related to the war effort
3. the University makes a financial commitment to the Bobby Seale defense fund (Seale, a Black Panther, was on trial on murder charges in new Haven, Conn.)
4. the University provides an answer to these demands at a rally scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday [May 6]
5. the University increases the number of black students on campus in proportion to the number of blacks in Indiana

An I.U. Safety detachment was deployed later Friday.  In response to this action, an agitated group of students formed, and the students and the Safety group both headed toward the Administration Building (Bryan Hall).  The quickly-escalating situation subsided when another group of students, led by Keith Parker, persuaded the angry student group to join in a common, unified and orderly rally at the Student Building.  Eventually, Parker, along with Student Body Vice President Mike King, made their way to Bryan Hall to present the list of demands to University Vice Presidents Joseph Hartley, Lynne Merritt, and David Derge.