UNM 125: Scattered violence erupts during strike
131 protesters arrested, 10 bayoneted by Guard
Printed May 11, 1970
The deployment of the National Guard on campus to oust students occupying the Union, joint faculty student recommendations of a “free university,” and scattered acts of violence followed in quick succession this weekend while the University was closed.
A 150 man unit of the National Guard was called on campus Friday evening by New Mexico State Police Chief Martin Vigil to help city, state, and campus police to oust students who had occupied the New Mexico Union building since Wednesday afternoon.
Vigil was executing a court order sought by the UNM Regents to have the building cleared. One hundred and thirty-one persons were arrested Friday, and arraigned and released on charges of contempt of court Saturday. Ten people were injured by bayonet-brandishing Guardsmen on the Mall Friday immediately after the 131 were removed from the Union.
The use of the Guard prompted a graduate students’ call for ousting (UNM President) Ferrel Heady, condemnation of the Guard’s use by the faculty, and strong press reaction.
Persons who remained in the Union in defiance of the court order, students and student strike supporters, submitted to arrest peacefully. They included ASUNM President Eric Nelson.
Debate over the use of the National Guard embroiled Cargo in denials of authorization of the Guard’s use, and denials by Regents’ President Arturo Ortega, and Heady of prior knowledge of the guard deployment. Gubernatorial candidates called for a special session of the Legislature, and disruptions or threatened disruptions of campuses throughout the nation forced cancellation of the Republican Governors Conference in Santa Fe on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
The conference cancellation also left the strikers who originally called the strike in honor of the four students killed at Kent State University, and the involvement of U.S. troops in Cambodia, without a target for their protest.
Feeling quickly narrowed to local issues with sentiment growing against resumption of “business as usual” Monday.
Heady and the Regents Saturday had called for the reopening of the University under “normal operating conditions” Monday.
Occupation of the Union was the one rallying point of ill-defined strike activities that followed the closing of the University Wednesday afternoon by joint order of Heady and Cargo. The Regents, in seeking the court order, charged they were seeking to prevent “irreparable damage” to the Union.
Strike meetings and organizational caucuses by all factions of the students working with the strike were held throughout the weekend, but little consensus on what to do when school reopened, or attempted to reopen, was reached prior to an ad hoc student, faculty, administration meeting Sunday.
The Physical Plant employees are scheduled to go out on strike this morning in support of continued student efforts to keep the University shut down or change its structure.
The broadest representation of campus opinion of the strike came yesterday afternoon when over 200 persons discussed control of the Union, the terms of the reopening of the University Monday, and the Physical Plant workers’ strike.
Yesterday an ad hoc faculty committee, students and administrators and student government representatives recommended voluntary attendance of classes, methods of non-penalized withdrawal from classes, and “free university” classes.
During a march Friday afternoon to Robinson Park and back, a group of Albuquerque High School students rushed the 300 marchers, pelting them with rocks.
City police and student parade marshals broke up the high school belligerents and the march proceeded. Two students were injured.