The FBI 1976 Report On the SDS Weather Underground
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The bomb had been intended to be set off at a dance at a local Army base. How did the Weathermen arrive at this point? What many believed to be a government-sanctioned killing in an effort to wipe out militant groups such as the Panthers was, for the Weathermen, the final straw. By the late s, activist movements had also mobilized among Asian Americans, Native Americans, Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, as well as a second wave of activism among women, gay and lesbians and the disabled. The first SDS anti-war march in Washington attracts 15, people. Kennedy are assassinated. Anti-war demonstrations turn violent at the Chicago Democratic Convention and shut down Columbia University.
Emerging into the street, Wager was astonished to see two young women, one clad in jeans and soot, the other in just soot, staggering from the wreckage and narrowly escaping death a second time when the front of the building collapsed yards behind them. Offering them clothes, Wager then called the police, but returned to find the women had vanished.
They were Kathy Boudin, daughter of a progressive lawyer, and Cathy Wilkerson, daughter of the radio-station owner whose house had been destroyed. If the Days of Rage - which involved a minority of students tooling themselves up with bats and helmets and vandalising shopfronts along Chicago's Gold Coast - had seemed like anti-war politics at the very end of its tether - they were nothing compared to the campaign of bombings that the hardcore SDS splinter group that soon dubbed itself the Weathermen would commit during the early s after announcing their decision to go underground to fight the power.
Contradicting Bob Dylan, these young people believed that in fact you did need a weatherman to know which way the wind blew. By then Dustin Hoffman, who lived in the house next door, was also outside examining the wreckage, a mild exemplar of the counterculture since The Graduate , looking into the gaping maw left by members of the wilder peace movement. What police found inside the ruins was evidence of an accidental holocaust, arising from preparations for another, fully intentional one. Sixty sticks of dynamite were found, plus pipe bombs, a live anti-tank shell and stolen student ID cards from campuses across the country.
One bomb-maker had inadvertently closed a circuit and immolated himself and two others. One corpse, identifiable only by the print on a severed finger, was that of Diana Oughton, daughter of an Illinois state politician, and granddaughter of the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. Ted Gold, a leader of the Columbia University shutdown, was also found in pieces, and of Terry Robbins there was only a torso remaining.
- March 1, 1945 – January 20, 2013;
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It was understood later that the bombs were to have been detonated at a non-commissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix: apocalypse here and now, bringing the war home, indeed. The end for the Weather Underground came 11 years later, with a botched armoured-car robbery in Nyack, upstate New York, that went even more horribly wrong. Still a fugitive, Boudin and her partner David Gilbert, another Columbia '68 veteran, had agreed to act as white getaway drivers for members of the Black Liberation Army BLA , a formation composed of politicised street criminals and convicts radicalised in the aftermath of the Attica prison uprising.
Although Gilbert and Boudin were unarmed, their cohorts killed three policemen, including the first black cop in the county.
Another had his arm severed by machine-gun fire but survived, only to die in the World Trade Centre on September Boudin pleaded guilty and received 25 years- to-life. Gilbert bought two life terms and will die in prison.
In Memory of Larry Grathwohl, FBI Informant, The Weather Underground - The Post & Email
In Attica, as it happens. As documentarian Emile de Antonio asked in "What the hell is an essentially white, middle-class revolutionary group doing in America? In the early s, the group, operating in cells across the country, claimed up to members, and planted over two dozen pipe bombs.
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The gruesome lesson of the Townhouse explosion ensured they always struck at night, in empty offices, and gave detailed advance bomb-warnings. They never killed anyone. They nevertheless expressed their solidarity with weird revolutionary groups like the Symbionese Liberation Organisation, which kidnapped Patty Hearst, and the BLA.
In , they appeared on film, heavily disguised, for De Antonio and his cameraman Haskell Wexler. By the end of the s, most Weather people had surrendered themselves and, ironically, most were acquitted, or never charged, because the FBI itself had violated so many laws while hunting them down. Appearing in the movie are Bernadine Dohrn, la pasionara of the 60s student left, who - cue more surreal connections - had been a law school classmate of rightwing US attorney general John Ashcroft, Dohrn's husband Bill Ayers, whose memoir Fugitive Days - including his account of planting a bomb in the Pentagon - had the misfortune to be reviewed on page one of the New York Times on September 11 d'oh!
Kathy Boudin declined to participate because she was facing a parole hearing - it was denied in Green and Siegel were also careful to include the dissenting opinions of SDS founder Todd Gitlin, who rightly says the Townhouse debacle proves that some Weathermen "were ready to be mass murderers", and of members of FBI Squad 47, who came to admire the Weather folks' ingenuity, but who used some fairly despicable methods in their hunt.
Then there is Mark Rudd, glimpsed as a beautiful young man yelling to a crowd of students, "We gotta knock these motherfuckers right on their asses! Rudd says that when his students ask him what he did in the s, he always announces, "I was a leading figure in a violent leftwing revolutionary organisation dedicated to the overthrow of the United States government. It's Rudd's way of making himself face the music, and of all the Weathermen, he seems the most conflicted and contrite. I'm not a violent person.