Bush, Omar compare Gaza war protest police responses to Kent State Massacre on 54th anniversary

Progressive Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Cori Bush (D-Minn.) compared police responses to ongoing pro-Palestinian protests on college campuses across the country to the Kent State Massacre on its 54th anniversary Saturday.

“54 years ago, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on unarmed students at Kent State. Students have a right to speak out, organize, and protest systemic wrongs,” Omar said in a post on the social platform X Saturday. “We can’t silence those expressing dissent, no matter how uncomfortable their protests may be to those in power.”

Four students were killed and nine were injured at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4, 1970, after the Ohio National Guard opened fire on an anti-Vietnam War protest crowd.

Two notable recent instances of violence erupting as police and protestors clash came this week at Columbia University and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), when both the New York Police Department (NYPD) and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) cracked down on pro-Palestinian protesters at the two schools.

“On the 54th anniversary of the Kent State Massacre, students across our country are being brutalized for standing up to endless war,” Bush said in her own post on X. “Our country must learn to actually uphold the rights of free speech & assembly upon which it was founded. Solidarity with our students[.]”

The comparisons followed reports that an NYPD officer with the Emergency Service Unit (ESU) “accidentally” fired a round while clearing a Columbia University building taken over by protesters earlier this week. The officer was searching the first floor, and only law enforcement was nearby during the incident, according to the NYPD.

“At approximately 2138 hours, an Emergency Service Unit officer was conducting an extensive and methodical search of an area on the first floor,” a spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. “During this time, he was attempting to access a barricaded area.”

“The ESU officer has a firearm that is equipped with a flashlight, and he was illuminating the area to find the best way to navigate through the barricaded area. The officer accidentally discharged his firearm causing a single round to be discharged. The round struck a frame in the wall a few feet away. The round did not strike any persons and did not cause any injuries.”

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.