Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, and the Weather Underground.
“Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring
the revolution home. Kill your parents, that’s where it’s really at.”
–Bill Ayers, Weather Underground, 1970
“This is Bernadine Dohrn. I am going to read a declaration of a state of war. Within the next 14 days we will attack a symbol or institution of American injustice.” — Recorded message, 1970
“America is not a just and fair and decent place,” “It makes me want to puke.” — Bill Ayers said in 2001.
At the same time Ayers was in a Chicago alley desecrating the flag, he and Barack Obama were serving on the board of the Woods Fund together
Even if Barack Obama didn’t make his appearance in the lives of Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, this would be a fascinating story for a person such as myself who is a follower of true crime.
Bill Ayers says in his memoir that most of the bombs the Weathermen were blamed for had been placed to only do property damage.
Maybe most but certainly not all. In 1970 in San Francisco a pipe bomb attributed to the group killed one police officer and severely hurt another.
An accidental explosion in a Greenwich Village town house basement killed three of the radicals. Survivors later said they had been making nail bombs to detonate at a military dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Then there’s the Brinks robbery in Nanuet, N. Y. already mentioned. See:
Note: I wonder if Mr. Ayers is familiar with the felony murder law. I think he would be since fellow weathermen, Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert, were convicted and sentenced to life in the Brinks robbery based on felony murder.
Three days after the townhouse explosion, Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn skipped a court date from the Days of Rage case and went underground. Initially, fiery tape recordings were sent to reporters.
Bernadine Dohrn: (recording) – “This is Bernadine Dohrn. Within the next 14 days we will attack a symbol or institution of American injustice.”
Over the next decade, the Weathermen claimed credit for 25 bombings but eventually the movement broke apart, and Dohrn and Ayers began a life together in New York, still underground. Ten years later, Dohrn and Ayers finally turned themselves in, in Chicago. Federal bombing conspiracy charges had been dropped because of improper FBI surveillance.
Local assault and battery charges remained against Dohrn. She was fined $1500 and placed on probation. She remained defiant.
“Resistance by every means necessary is happening and will continue to happen within the United States as well as around the world, and I remain committed to the struggle ahead,” said Bernadine Dohrn.
In an August 22, 1996 PBS interview, it was stated that teaching is the central fact of Ayers’ life. A full professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he’s written four books.
With his love of teaching and his distrust of bureaucracy, it’s not surprising that Ayers has been deeply involved in school reform in Chicago, and the effort to decentralize this troubled urban school system.
Dohrn is also heavily involved in reforming a major social system. Chicago has often criticized juvenile court. On the staff of the law school, at Northwestern University, Dohrn heads the Children and Family Justice Center.
Her work gets high praise from an unlikely supporter, the judge who oversees the juvenile court in Cook County, Chief Judge Donald O’Connell.
But the past does intrude on her work. Dohrn has a law degree but cannot practice. She was denied a license in part because of a seven-month jail term she served after refusing to testify before a grand jury. The jury was investigating a botched robbery of a Brinks truck in which a guard and two state troopers were killed.
Weatherman Kathy Boudin was sentenced to life for the crime (or 20 years to life). * It happened a year after Dohrn came above ground, and she has denied any involvement. There are still those who haven’t forgotten or forgiven. Northwestern Law School Professor Dan Polsby is one of them.
“There were many acts of domestic terrorism. It seems to me that in the world as we know it right now. He can’t simply walk away from acts of domestic terrorism and say, well, okay, that was a long time ago. It wasn’t that long ago, for one thing, and for another thing, it has never been apologized for, and it seems to me that repentance has to proceed forgiveness and not come sometime later,” says Professor Polsby.
He is not alone. Thomas Foran was the U.S. Attorney during the Days of Rage, who said, “I’d say they still are against the community; they’re still anti-authoritarian; they still think that they know their own little secret of how the world should run that’s different than the overwhelming majority of the people. There’s no way that anybody would say either of those people had any impact in Chicago.”
Dohrn and Ayers do not react to those who say they are still outside the system any more than they do to those who say they sold out, but the years have made a difference. Their family is as important as their activism now. It was their children that brought them out of the underground.
They have raised three teenagers–middle child Malik Cochise is named after Malcolm X and a 19th century Apache chief. Their oldest, Zade Atheola, is named after a Black Panther killed in a shootout with police in 1973.
Sixteen years old at the time of the interview, Chesa, Kathy Boudin’s and David Gilbert’s son, has been raised by Dohrn and Ayers since his mother and his father were jailed when he was 14 months old. Weathermen Boudin and Gilbert were convicted on felony murder and robbery.
Also central is the desire to make a fundamental radical change in society. Would they do it all again? They say, absolutely.
Posted: 10.11.08 Updated: 10.15.08
Katherine Boudin was paroled in 2003, according to this writing of August, 2003: http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=3362356F-98D0-4CC9-A24C-27D5F97544EF