From Academic Kids

Weather Underground redirects here. For the weather service named Weather Underground, see Weather Underground (weather service).

The Weathermen, also known as the Weather Underground Organization, were a US-based, self-described "revolutionary organization of communist men and women" formed by splintered-off members and leaders of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). The group, together with two small Maoist groups, was originally known as the Revolutionary Youth Movement. When they split—first from the Maoists, and then from SDS itself—Weathermen advocated the overthrow of the government of the United States and the system of capitalism; toward that end, they carried out a campaign of bombings, jailbreaks, and riots. The Weathermen were active from 1969 to 1976.

The name of the group derives from the Bob Dylan song "Subterranean Homesick Blues", which featured the lyrics, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows", quoted at the bottom of an influential essay in the SDS newspaper, New Left Notes. By this they meant that anyone could see worldwide revolution was imminent. It appears also that the moniker was used as a rebuke against the Progressive Labor Party, whose Worker Student Alliance (WSA) SDS faction had succeeded in recruiting many SDSers to its ranks and had allegedly co-opted the 1969 Chicago SDS convention.

In October 1969, the Weathermen organized their first event, called the "Days of Rage," in Chicago. The opening salvo in the Days of Rage came on the night of October 6, when they blew up a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket Riot. Although the October 8 rally failed to draw as many participants as they had anticipated, the estimated three hundred who did attend shocked police by leading a riot through Chicago's business district, smashing windows and cars. Six people were shot and seventy arrested. Two smaller violent conflicts with police followed the next two nights.

In 1970, following the police raid that resulted in the death of Black Panther Fred Hampton, the group issued a Declaration of War against the United States government, changing its name to the "weather underground organization", adopting fake identities, and pursuing covert activities only. These initially included preparations for a bombing of a US military noncommissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix in what Mark Rudd said was going to be "the most horrific hit that the United States government had ever suffered on its territory" [1] ( But when three Underground members died in an accidental explosion while preparing the bomb in a Greenwich Village, New York City safe house, other cells re-evaluated their plans and decided to pursue only non-lethal projects.

The group released a number of manifestos and declarations while conducting a series of bombings. These attacked the U.S. Capitol, The Pentagon, police and prison buildings, and the rebuilt Haymarket statue again, among other targets. The group took ultimately successful measures to avoid any loss of life as a result of these bombings, issuing warnings to evacuate the building ahead of time via phone. They also took a $25,000 payment from a drugs group called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love to break LSD advocate Timothy Leary out of prison, transporting him to Algeria. They remained largely successful at avoiding the police and the FBI.

In the mid-to-late 1970s, the group began dissolving, as many members turned themselves in to the police, and others moved onto other armed revolutionary groups. Very few served prison sentences, since the evidence gathered against them, by the FBI's COINTELPRO program, was inadmissible in court, due to the illegal methods used to obtain it. Jennifer Dohrn, sister of Weatherman Bernadine Dohrn says that according to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, the FBI planned at one point to kidnap her son when she gave birth.

Known members of the Weather Underground include Kathy Boudin, Mark Rudd, Terry Robbins, David Gilbert, and the still-married couple Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.

Many former Weathermen have re-integrated into society, without necessarily repudiating their original intent. Bill Ayers, now a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois, said in a September 11, 2001 New York Times profile "I don't regret setting bombs [against non-human targets]. I believe we didn't do enough."

The organization was the subject of the Oscar-nominated 2002 documentary The Weather Underground by filmmakers Bill Siegel and Sam Green.

Chronology of events

June, 1969 – The “Action Faction” of the SDS releases a detailed statement of their political ideology in the official SDS newspaper “New Left Notes.” This essay concluded with the quotation “You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows” which gave rise to its adherents being called “Weathermen.”

18 June-22, 1969 – The SDS National Convention, held in Chicago, Illinois, sees the organization collapse as a student group and the WUO seizing control of the SDS National Office. Henceforth any activity run from the SDS National Office is WUO controlled.

July, 1969 – Bernardine Dohrn, Eleanor Raskin, Dianne Donghi, Peter Clapp, David Millstone and Diana Oughton, all representing the WUO, travel to Cuba where they meet with representatives of the North Vietnamese and Cuban governments.

August 1969 – WUO member Linda Sue Evans travels to North Vietnam. WUO activists meet in Cleveland, Ohio, for the purpose of making final plans for their “National Action” or “Days of Rage” protests scheduled to be held in Chicago in October, 1969.

4 September 1969 – WUO women members from various parts of the country converge on South Hills High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where they run through the school shouting anti-war slogans and distributing literature promoting the “National Action.” The term “Pittsburg 26” refers to the 26 women arrested in connection with this incident.

24 September 1969 – A group of WUO members become involved in a confrontation with Chicago Police when they refuse to clear a street during a demonstration supporting the “National Action”, and protesting the commencement of an Anti-riot Act trial against eight individuals charged with initiating the riots in connection with the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

7 October 1969 – The Haymarket Police Statue was bombed in Chicago, Illinois apparently as a “kickoff” for the WUO “Days of rage” riots which took place in the city during Octover 8-11, 1969. No suspects have been developed in this matter. The WUO claimed credit for the bombing in their book, “Praire Fire”.

8 October-11, 1969 – The “Days of Rage” riots occur in Chicago in which 287 WUO members from throughout the country were arrested and a large amount of property damage was done. Some of the current underground WUO members became fugitives when they failed to appear for trial in connection with their arrests during these four days.

November-December, 1969 – The First contingent of the Venceremos Brigade departs for Cuba to harvest sugar cane. A small number of WUO members participate in this trip.

6 December 1969 – Several Chicago Police cars parked in a Precinct parking lot at 3600 North Halsted Street, Chicago, were bombed. The WUO stated in their book "Praire Fire" that they had perpetrated the explosion to protest the shooting deaths of the Illinois Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark on 4 December 1969, by police officers.

27 December-31, 1969 – The WUO holds a “War Council” meeting in Flint, Michigan, where they finalize their plans to submerge into an underground status from which they plan to commit strategic acts of sabotage against the government.

February, 1970 – The WUO closed the SDS National Office in Chicago, concluding the major campus based organization of the 1960s. The first contingent of the VB returns from Cuba and the second contingent departs. By mid-February the bulk of the leading WUO members submerge into an underground status.

13 February 1970 - Several Police vehicles of the Berkeley, California, Police Department were bombed in the police parking lot.

16 February 1970 – A bomb is detonated at the Golden Gate Park branch of the San Francisco Police Department, killing one officer and injuring a number of other policemen. No organization claimed credit for either of these police bombings.

March, 1970 – Several underground WUO members become Federal fugitives, when they unlawfully flee to avoid prosecution, warrants are issued in connection with their failure to appear for trial in Chicago.

6 March 1970 – Thirty-four sticks of dynamite are discovered in the 13th Police District of the Detroit, Michigan Police bombing. During Feburary and early March, 1970, members of the WUO led by Bill Ayers are reported to be in Detroit during that period for the purpose of bombing a police facility.

6 March 1970 – Another group blows themselves up when their “bomb factory” located in New York’s Greenwich Village accidentally explodes. WUO members Theodore Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins die in this accident.

30 March 1970 – Chicago Police discover a WUO “bomb factory” on Chicago’s north side. A subsequent discovery of a WUO “weapons cache” in a south side chicago apartment several days later ends WUO activity in the city.

April, 1970 – WUO members Linda Sue Evans and Dianne Donghi are arrested in New York by the FBI.

2 April 1970 – A Federal Grand Jury in Chicago returns a number of incidents charging WUO members with violation of Federal Anti-riot Laws. Also, a number of additional federal warrants charging unlawful flight to avoid prosecution are returned in Chicago based on the failure of WUO members to appear for trial in local cases. (The Antiriot Law charges were later dropped in January, 1974.)

10 May 1970 – The National Guard Association building in Washington, D.C. was bombed to protest the alleged National Guard killings of students at Kent State and Jackson State Universities.

21 May 1970 – The WUO under Bernardine Dohrn’s name releases its “Declaration of a State of War” communique.

6 June 1970 – The WUO sent a letter claiming credit for bombing of the San Francisco Hall of Justice, however, no explosion took place. Months later, however, workmen in this building located an unexploded device which had apparently been dormant for some time.

9 June 1970 - The New York City Police Headquarters is bombed in response to what the Weathermen call "police repression."

16 July 1970 - The Presidio Army Base in San Francisco is bombed to mark the 11th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

July 23, 1970 – A Federal Grand Jury in Detroit, Michigan, returns indictments against a number of under-ground WUO members and former WUO members charging violations of various explosives and firearms laws. (These indictments were later dropped in October, 1973.)

August, 1970 - Bombing of Marin County Courthouse in retaliation for the murder of Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas, and James McClain.

22 September 1970 – The WUO helps Dr. Timothy Leary, LSD user break out and escape from the California Men’s Colony Prison.

8 October 1970 - The Queens Courthouse is bombed in solidarity with the New York prison revolts.

8 October 1970 - The Harvard Center for International Affairs is bombed to protest the war in Vietnam.

December, 1970 – Fugitive WUO member Caroline Tanker, who fled the country for Cuba, is arrested by the FBI in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Fugitive WUO member Judith Alice Clark is arrested by the FBI in New York.

28 February, 1971 - The US Capitol is bombed to protest the invasion of Laos.

April, 1971 – FBI agents discover an abandoned WUO “bomb factory” in San Francisco, California.

August, 1971 - Bombing of the Office of California Prisons allegedly in retaliation for the killing of George Jackson.

17 September 1971 - The New York Department of Corrections is bombed to protest the killing of 29 inmates at Attica State Penitentiary.

October, 1971 - The bombing of William Bundy’s office in the MIT research center.

May, 1972 - Bombing of the Pentagon in retaliation for the new U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi.

18 May, 1973 - The bombing of the 103rd Police Precinct in New York in response to the killing of 10-year-old black youth Clifford Clover by police.

19 September 1973 – WUO member Howard Norton Machtinger is arrested by the FBI in New York. Released on bond, Machtinger again submerges into the underground.

28 September 1973 - The ITT headquarters in New York is bombed in response to US-backed coup in Chile.

6 March, 1974 - Bombing of the Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare offices in San Francisco to protest alleged sterilization of poor women. In the accompanying communiqué, the Women’s Brigade argues for “the need for women to take control of daycare, healthcare, birth control and other aspects of women’s daily lives.”

31 May 1974 - The Office of the California Attorney General is bombed in response to the killing of 6 members of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

17 June 1974 - Gulf Oil's Pittsburgh headquarters is bombed to protest its actions in Angola, Vietnam, and elsewhere.

July, 1974 – The WUO releases its book “Prairie Fire” in which they indicate the need for a unified Communist Party. They encourage the creation of study groups to discuss their ideology, but continue to stress the need for violent acts. The book also admits WUO responsibility of several actions from previous years. The Prairie Fire Organizing Committee (PFOC) arises from the teachings in this book and is organized by many former WUO members.

11 September 1974 – Bombing of Anaconda Corporation (part of the Rockefeller Corporation) in retribution for Anaconda’s alleged involvement in the Chilean coup the previous year.

28 January, 1975 - Bombing of The State Department in response to escalation in Vietnam..

March, 1975 – The WUO releases its first edition of a new magazine entitled “Osawatamie.”

16 June 1975 - they rob a Banco de Ponce (a Puerto Rican bank) in New York in solidarity with striking Puerto Rican cement workers.

11 July-13, 1975 – The PFOC holds its first national convention during which time they go through the formality of creating a new organization.

September, 1975 – Bombing of the Kennecott Corporation for its alleged connections to Pinochet - brought to power in US-backed coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende.

External links

Further reading

Osawatomie. Water Buffalo Print Collective. [Journal of the Weather Underground Organization]. Seattle. 1975.

de:Weathermen nl:Weathermen fi:The Weather Underground


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