You don’t need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows.


All the talk about the Obama-Ayers connect is intriguing. Not because of Ayers or Obama, but the history of the Weatherman and the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society). I must admit, I have a had a morbid fascination with their history prior to this controversy. Maybe it was growing up in the 70’s and watching to many Dirty Harry movies, you know hard-ass cop against the weed smoking, RPG wielding, commie, dust heads.

Because Ayers is such a prevalent figure in this election I am not going to spend to much time on the SDS, this is not meant to undercut their historical relevance to the Weatherman.

SDS came into existence in 1960, before this it was known as SLID (Students League for Industrial Democracy). They were the most notable and powerful organization of the New Left, Hippie take over of Liberalism. In the start, their rhetoric was primarily focused on the banning of anti-communism, which they saw as wholly undemocratic. They also blamed the United States paranoia concerning Russia as the biggest obstacle for nuclear disarmament.

With the escalation of the Vietnam war in 1965 the SDS went on the move, severely changing its tactics to more protests and allowing any one in including communists. This strained relations with some of the older Left organizations. There numbers grew but it was in 1969 at the SDS national convention they split due to internal squabbling. It was out of this the Weathermen were born. A pamphlet was passed out at the convention with a lyric from a Bob Dylan song, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” which inspired their name.

The Weathermen’s first act was a series of riots in Chicago known as the Days of Rage, in October of 1969. It was simultaneous with the trial of the Chicago Eight. Since the Weathermen felt that militancy was necessary and would garner more results than peaceful protest rioting was just a natural progression.

The Days of Rage was basically about making the American public “wake up” to their country’s complacency towards its involvement in Vietnam. Overall about 200-300 hundred protesters rioted through the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago. But the riot was dismantled by the authorities. Two days later the Weathermen launched another riot in the Loop, Chicago’s main business district, but the police were ready and the riot only lasted about 15 minutes.

The Weatherman became even more radical after the December 1969 raid of Fred Hamilton’s home, a noted leader of the Black Panther movement. In which he and another man, named Mark Clark, were killed and four others wounded. The Weathermen issued a declaration of war against the United States government and changed their names to the Weather Underground Organization. They continued on their terrorist campaign with bombings of the Pentagon, the Capital building, banks, and police stations.

In March of 1970 in Greenwich Village in New York, while preparing to bomb a non-commissioned officers dance at Fort Dix, one of the nail bombs that was going to be used detonated prematurely. This resulted in the deaths of three members of the WUO.

In the early 70’s the WUO shifted to a more Marxist-Leninist approach and published Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism. There were about five thousand copies produced and spread around the nation. It was also hailed by Leftist newspapers and even appeared in bookstores.

On another interesting note the Weathermen were responsible for the September 1970 prison break of Timothy Leary. The Brothers of Eternal Love, an LSD distribution ring, paid them $20.000 to break him out of jail.

In 1971 the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into one of the Bureau’s Pennsylvania offices and stole hundreds of files containing information about the subversive actions of Leftist groups, including the Weathermen. This was the catalyst for the end of, COINTELPRO, an FBI counterintelligence operation Later in 1973 the FBI proceeded with the 'Special Target Information Development' which meant sending agents in to directly penetrate the Weathermen organization. But due to prohibited tactics agents used any charges against the Weathermen were to be dropped. Basically the Weathermen no longer had to remain underground and would face minimal charges if they turned themselves in.

After the 1976 conference called “Hard Times” the Weathermen dissolved. This was due to fracturing between them and other racially motivated Leftist organizations. Also, the East Coast wings of the Weathermen felt there was a lack of commitment to violence, by other members. This casued strain in the leadership. Over the next few years members would either turn themselves in or join other radical organizations. But a “peaceful” wing of the WUO still exists and it is called the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee.

Cred to Wiki info necessary to fill in the blanks I could not provide. Believe me there would have been a lot of them. Here is the link to the article I drew from for this shortened version, Weathermen. Try some reads on COINTELPRO and the SDS, very interesting also.


“Happy Hunting!”



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