Photo credits: Jackson Free Press
On May 15, 1970, just after midnight, police opened fire on a gathering of students at Jackson State University in Mississippi, killing two and wounding 12 others.
The incident came as a result of rising tensions between students, local teenagers, and the police. Young African-American were allegedly pelting rocks at white vehicles traveling down the main road through campus on the evening of May 14, 1970, a common location of conflicts between white and black Jackson residents.
According to Lynch Street: The May 1970 Slayings at Jackson State College, tensions grew after a rumor across campus that Charles Evers, a local politician, civil rights leader, and brother of murdered activist Medgar Evers, and his wife had been assassinated. The scenario became more serious when a non-Jackson State student set fire to a dump truck.
The police answered the call. A number of students and non-students attacked the cops with rocks and stones. Alexander Hall, a vast women’s dorm, was approached by police.
Police fired more than 150 shots, according to a 1970 report by the President’s Commission on Campus Unrest. According to an FBI investigation, around 400 rounds of buckshot fragments were fired into Alexander Hall. Investigators found “insufficient proof” of the shooters’ assertion that there was a sniper in the hostel.
Phillip L. Gibbs (pictured left), a junior at Jackson State University and the father of an 18-month-old child, and James Earl Green (pictured right), a high school senior, were the two young men killed in the brawl.