ALEXANDRIA, VA~ 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 the act.”
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 the Chinese.
“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 times….
“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.
The Conservative Curmudgeon is copyright (c) 2009 by Allan C. Brownfeld and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. All rights reserved.
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 Security Subcommittee. He is associate editor of The Lincoln Review and a contributing editor to such publications as Human Events, The St. Croix Review, and The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.