The Weather Underground

Breaking News

On Oct. 6, Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin accused Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists." She was referring to Obama's occasional association with Bill Ayers, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor who co-founded the militant group, the Weathermen. Palin was not the first to mention the Obama-Ayers connection. The Obama campaign regularly points out that Ayers committed his crimes when Obama was only eight.

The Weathermen formed as a radical offshoot of the 1960s student activist group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). A manifesto, which circulated around a June 1969 SDS convention, took its title from Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," it read, and thus became known as the Weatherman statement. While SDS promoted nonviolent protests, the Weathermen aligned themselves with violent groups like the Black Panthers. "There is no example of a peaceful road to fundamental social change," wrote Weatherman-founder David Gilbert.

The founding Weathermen came from comfortable, highly-educated backgrounds and felt the need to escape their sheltered bourgeoisie life. They moved into collectives, practiced forced sexual rotation, took weapons training, and planned attacks on the wealthy and powerful. By October 1969, the group was ready for its first major attack: four "Days of Rage," in Chicago's affluent Gold Coast neighborhood. The Weatherman boasted that thousands of student warriors would flood city streets with violence and destruction, but only a few hundred people showed up. Six Weathermen were shot and 287 arrested. The riots were deemed a failure.

Subsequent bombings of government buildings, banks and police departments lead the FBI to declare the Weathermen a domestic terrorist group. Only one explosion — a pipe bomb placed on a San Francisco Police Department window ledge in February 1970 — resulted in death. It was never conclusively attributed to the group.

On March 6, 1970, several Weatherman gathered in the basement of a four-story Greenwich Village townhouse, preparing for an upcoming dynamite attack on an officer's dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Due to an improperly attached wire, the townhouse exploded. Three Weathermen were killed, including Ayers' then-girlfriend Diana Oughton. Over the next few months the rest of the organization went into hiding.

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Vernon Clayson - 10/8/2008

No one intimates that Obama associated with Ayers when he was 8 years old, the concern is the association while he was an adult. Ayres is a recalcitrant terrorist, he's substituted bombing for teaching anarchy. His street cred is the bombings, otherwise he would be just another academic radical, anonymous in appearance and message. We know Obama is a disciple, what we don't know is how many others are out there poisoning young minds with his un-American message. I'm sure Ayres pictures himself as a present day Russian revolutionary, just minus the cold and cruelty of Russian politics. He lives and works in far more comfortable surroundings, honored and respected by his college - what are they thinking - never mind, it just came to me, they are like-minded comfortable revolutionaries.