Many Americans have forgotten the violence that shook our society
in the l960s and l970s at the hands of the Weather Underground and
other radical organizations. Sadly, those who led that effort are still
with us and appear to be unrepentant. And some of their most violent
crimes have still not been properly addressed by the legal system.
Former Weather Underground member William Ayers is back in the news.
Ayers became a household name during Barack Obama’s presidential
campaign because of his involvement — and that of his wife, Bernardine
Dohrn, another Weather Underground leader — with Mr. Obama.
Officers of the San Francisco Police Officers Association charge that
Ayres and Dohrn are largely responsible for the bombing of a police
station that killed Sgt. Brian McDonnell and injured eight other officers
on February l6, l970.
San Francisco police leaders say there are “irrefutable and
compelling reasons” that establish the responsibility of Ayers
and Dohrn for the bombing.
No one has ever been charged with this attack. However, former FBI
informant Larry Grathwohl — who was an undercover member of the Weather
Underground — has implicated both Ayers and Dohrn in sworn testimony
and in his l976 book.
In testimony before the Internal Security Subcommittee of the U.S.
Senate Judiciary Committee on October l8, l974, Grathwohl described
under oath a meeting he had with Ayers: “Bill started off telling
us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger
leadership inside... the Weatherman organization as a whole. And he
cited as one of the real problems that someone like Bernardine Dohrn
had to plan, develop, and carry out the bombing of the police station
in San Francisco, and he specifically named her as the person who committed
In his book Bringing Down America: An FBI Informer
with the Weathermen,
Grathwohl writes: “When he (Ayers) finished outlining our new
codes, he tore into a fiery criticism of the passiveness of most members
of the organization. ‘Too many of
you are relying on your leaders to do everything,’ he said sternly.
Then, in a departure from relating individuals to specific acts, he
mentioned the Park police station bombing in San Francisco. ‘It
was a success,’ he said, ‘but it’s a shame when some
like Bernardine has to make all the plans, make the bomb, and then
place it herself. She should have to do only the planning.’ He
charged us to become more aggressive in working out details and executing
plans by ourselves.”
At a recent Washington press conference organized by journalist Cliff
Kincaid and the organization he heads, America's Survival, Inc., Grathwohl
described his l970 meeting with Ayers: “He reminded us of the
commitment all of us had made to overthrow the U.S. Government at the
National Council meeting in Flint [Michigan] the previous December
and how our inactivity was harming the Cubans, the Vietnamese, and
“Bill went on to describe how Bernardine Dohrn... considered
the leader of the Weather Underground, had to plan and commit the bombing
of the Park Station in San Francisco. This bomb contained fence staples
and was placed on a window ledge during the shift change ensuring the
presence of the greatest number of police officers and the greatest
possibility of death and injury....
“At the National Council meeting that took place in Flint,
Michigan, in late December of l969, Bernardine Dohrn had praised mass
murderer Charles Manson and said ‘The Weatherman is about a communist
revolution to destroy the white racist’s society and establish
a democratic centralist’s government.’ Furthermore, Bernardine
Dohrn wanted everyone at the council meeting to ‘bring the war
home and off (kill) their parents.”
In February l970, an explosion took place at the Weatherman bomb factory
in Greenwich Village, killing three Weathermen. The bombs being built
were for use at a dance at the Ft. Dix Army base in New Jersey on a
Saturday night and contained roofing nails for the shrapnel effect.
The most complete statement of Weather Underground philosophy was
in the 1974 publication Prairie Fire: The Politics
of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism. It described itself as the “Political Statement
of the Weather Underground” and was signed by, among others,
Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. It was dedicated to a page-long list
of violent criminals, including Sirhan Sirhan, the murderer of Senator
Robert Kennedy. It declared: “We are a guerrilla organization.
We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for
more than four years.... We made the choice to become a guerrilla organization
at a time when the Vietnamese were fighting a heroic people’s
war.... In our own hemisphere, Che Guevara urged that we ‘create
two, three, many Vietnams to destroy U.S. imperialism.’... Armed
struggle has come into being in the United States.”
The Weathermen engaged in many acts of violence, including bombings
at the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, Harvard University, and draft and
recruiting stations. On October 20, l98l, a group of Weather Underground
radicals with their colleagues from the Black Liberation Army attacked
a Brinks armored car in Rockland County, New York. In the course of
the shoot-out, one Brinks guard and two policemen were murdered. Among
those arrested were Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, who fathered Kathy
Boudin’s child ± to be brought up by Ayers
and Dohrn when the parents went to prison.
Ayers, during the presidential campaign, said that Weathermen activities
did not kill anyone. This clearly was not the case. Ayers and Dohrn
still appear to be the radicals they once were. Both, as college professors
(he at the University of Illinois in Chicago, she at Northwestern University)
are in a position to spread their ideas to a new generation. Cliff
Kincaid notes that, “Ayers is free not only to brainwash college
students but to travel to Marxist-controlled Venezuela, at least four
“Chesa Boudin, raised by Ayers and Dohrn, describes himself
as ‘a foreign policy advisor to President Hugo Chavez in 2005.’ It
was in Venezuela that Ayers openly talked about his role in academia,
saying that education is the ‘motor-force’ for revolution.
He was described by Venezuelan authorities... as a former leader of
a ‘revolutionary and anti-imperialist group’ that ‘brought
an armed struggle to the U.S.A. for more than 10 years from within
the womb of the empire.’”
When Ayers and Dohrn re-emerged during the 2008 presidential campaign,
the media failed to report the real nature of their crimes in the past
and their unrepentant radicalism of today. Now, with the San Francisco
police calling for a review of the Park Police Station bombing, the
time has come for Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a real investigation
of Ayers and Dohrn and the l970 bombing. There is no statute of limitations
for murder, and it is high time that justice was done.
In l968, this writer was the author of the U.S. Senate Internal Security
Subcommittee’s study of the New Left. It is hard to believe that
now, in 2009, the sad chapter of radical violence that shook our society
in those days has still not properly been addressed. Resolving the
l970 San Francisco bombing would be an important step in that direction.
Read this column at Accuracy In Academia.
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The Conservative Curmudgeon is copyright © 2009
by Allan C. Brownfeld and the Fitzgerald
All rights reserved. Editors may use this column if this copyright information
Allan C. Brownfeld is the author of five books, the latest of which
is The Revolution Lobby (Council for Inter-American Security). He has
been a staff aide to a U.S. Vice President, Members of Congress, and
the U.S. Senate Internal Subcommittee.
He is associate editor of The Lincoln Reveiw and a contributing
editor to such publications as Human Events,
The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle
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