Just 10 days after the Kent State University shootings in Ohio, Jackson State University was also the site of a similar race-related incident. On May 15th, 1970, police opened fired on a gathering of Black college and high school students, killing two people and injuring several others.
According to accounts, Black students at Jackson reacted to what ended up being false reports that Charles Evers, the brother of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers, and his wife were killed. The group gathered off campus at Lynch Street, while white motorists who drove by in anger were pelted by rocks from the students. The standoff raged on until the arrival of a massive police response.
Around 75 law enforcement officers from both the city and state level were there to reportedly control the crowd. Shortly after midnight, the officers opened fire and killed 21-year-old Jackson State junior Phillip Gibbs, and 17-year-old Jim Hill High School senior James Green. Gibbs, a pre-law student, was also a father. The shooting also led to the injury of 12 others and a riot ensued in the area.
In June 1970, President Richard Nixon launched the National Commission on Campus Unrest to investigate the shootings at Kent State and Jackson State. To this day, the reason why the officers unloaded their 28-second barrage of bullets into the crowd remains a mystery. The Commission found that the police officers overreacted and were excessive in relation to the shooting, but nothing found resulted into an arrest of those involved.
Today, the area where the shooting took place is known as Gibbs-Green Plaza, and a monument for the slain also rests there. According to recent reports, the damage from the bullets is still visible on the dorm buildings.
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