Planning Ahead for Violence?
The Weather Underground —
By Rusty Weiss
Having just won a settlement with the city of Troy in upstate New York, over a protest organized by the Public Works Commissioner, the Sanctuary for Independent Media appeared to be moving in the right direction concerning public trust. The settlement stemmed from a lawsuit responding to an attempt to shut down an exhibit featuring a video game which rewarded players for assassinating then-President George W. Bush.1 The Sanctuary’s Director expressed hope that they could move beyond the incident, building a “positive and productive working relationship” with the city. Little more than a month later, that positivity turned quite negative when members of Occupy Albany promoted and attended an event on March 3rd titled, The Weather Underground Meets Occupy Wall Street.
The event was co-sponsored by the Sanctuary and the Albany Social Justice Center, and had been described as a mundane book event to celebrate U.S. “political prisoner” David Gilbert's new memoir, Love and Struggle. But, as revealed in a newly released video, the forum featured characters that were anything but mundane, the list reading like a veritable who’s-who of former Weather Underground activists.2 Not simply low-level members, but some of the more notorious radicals in the movement, men and women with ties to the infamous Bill Ayers, individuals with ties to bombing schemes on military servicemen, and of course, convicted cop-killers.
The main topic of the forum itself, David Gilbert, is a radical American leftist organizer and activist serving time in the Auburn Correctional Facility.3 Gilbert remains imprisoned for his role in the Brinks Robbery of 1981, a botched effort that led to the murder of three people, including a security guard and two police officers. He and his fellow supporters like to portray Gilbert as an unwitting accomplice to the incident, but his intentions immediately after the midtown shooting suggest otherwise. Gilbert tried to escape with two other companions, but the Honda they were using as a getaway vehicle was driven directly into a concrete wall.4 As an officer approached, Gilbert attempted to get him to drop his guard by pleading for help, with the intention of distracting him long enough for his accomplice to retrieve a handgun, killing him as well. Fortunately, the officer never dropped his guard, and Gilbert, Judith Clark, and Kathy Boudin were apprehended.
What could the Occupy movement learn from such an extreme individual? For one, statements made by Gilbert in a 1985 interview show similarities to the current gaggle of protesters.5 In that interview, he describes his actions in the Brinks robbery that led to three innocent lives lost as a simple ‘expropriation’:
In the book being celebrated and discussed by the Occupiers, Love and Struggle, Gilbert explains his agenda and again sounds eerily like the misguided protesters of today.6 In describing his participation in the Black Power movement, the one which ultimately led to the Brinks incident, Gilbert states:
But the basic elements of the Occupy movement parallel the thought process of the Weather Underground during the ‘60s. TruTV describes the Underground as a group of radicals who, similarly to the Occupiers, “wanted their people to get involved, demonstrate, get arrested and force change down the throat of the "establishment."7
More succinctly, Mark Rudd, an activist who appears in the 2003 documentary titled, The Weather Underground, says “I helped found an organization whose goal was the violent overthrow of the government of the United States.” In fact, the organization received financial and other support from Cuba and North Vietnam.
As Occupiers seek to change the political dialogue, or moral conscience of America, they currently take notes from a man who justifies armed robbery as an expropriation, has the blood of innocent police officers on his hands, and had taken these actions because he believed that the point was to remove those in power.
Now, seemingly on cue, leaders in the Occupy movement in general have predicted that their movement will become “more radical”, while members amongst the Occupy Albany encampment have openly wondered why they haven’t clashed with their government like the Syrian revolutionaries.8,9 Are they now looking to advance to the next step?
And Now, Your Host - Naomi Jaffe
Bridging the gap between the Occupy supporters and David Gilbert’s message (he is, after all, incarcerated), is another member of the Weather Underground who believes past terrorist actions including the Brinks Robbery, were simple forms of expropriation. The host of the event at the Sanctuary for Independent Media was none other than Naomi Jaffe, a founding member of the Weatherman Organization.
Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert of the Weather Underground went to prison for their roles in an armored-car robbery that left two Nyack, New York police officers Officer Waverly Brown and Sergeant Ed O’Grady dead. In addition, the Brinks armored-car driver, Peter Paige, was also shot to death by the Weathermen. Gilbert co-authored the SDS booklet, “U.S. Imperialism,” whose first page includes a quote from the Communist Manifesto. He wrote the book, No Surrender: Writings from an anti-imperialist political prisoner, which includes an endorsement from Ward Churchill, the disgraced college professor who achieved notoriety for comparing 9/11 victims to Nazis. Gilbert’s new book, Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond, is part of a campaign to free him from prison.
Jaffe actively participated in the “Days of Rage” in Chicago in 1969, an event which was designed to create as much chaos as possible, including vandalism against homes, businesses, and automobiles, along with assaulting police officers.10 Jaffe herself was arrested for battery and resisting arrest.
She also made an appearance on a somewhat famous FBI wanted poster. Many have seen the images of Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, but few have seen Jaffe, along with a description which read:
Jaffe was one of thirteen people indicted on charges to commit bombings and murder.11 Police procedures in the case were deemed illegal however, and those charges were eventually dropped, but the goals of the group were becoming clear. As Jaffe stated in the Weather Underground movie, “We set out to make a revolution.”12
Now, 43 years later, Jaffe is actively participating in an attempted revolution - the Occupy movement. Aside from this Weather Underground event promoted and attended by Occupy Albany, she has contributed guest columns on the group’s blog page at the Times Union, and was interviewed by WNYT-13 where she professed to have never seen a movement like this before:13,14
But over four decades ago, it was Jaffe herself who had to figure things out. In 1970, three members of the Weather Underground were killed in a Greenwich Village townhouse when a bomb they had been making accidentally exploded. A former FBI informant, Larry Grathwohl, described the actual intent for the bombs being built in the townhouse.15
Hundreds of military personnel and their significant others could have been injured or killed had the plot been carried out to fruition. As a result of the scrutiny being applied by the FBI, Jaffe figured she would go underground like so many of her ilk, to elude authorities. And she was just beginning to build a resume that placed her squarely on the FBI’s radar.
It was in 1971 that investigators managed to pull her fingerprints from an abandoned apartment that had been rented by the Weather Underground in San Francisco. According to FBI files, the apartment “yielded an amount of explosives and bomb making paraphernalia.”16 Subsequent photos showed C-4 explosives, filed down knitting needles, explosive residue, disguises, and other bomb-making supplies.
It has widely been speculated that the bomb factory was a source of artillery involved in another bombing incident. On February 16th, 1970, San Francisco Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell was murdered through mortal injuries caused by the explosion of a bomb placed near a station window. An Officer Down Memorial Page reveals that, “Although Sergeant McDonnell's murder was never solved, it is believed the bomb was set by members of the domestic terrorist group Weather Underground.”17
Jaffe’s violent history cannot be overlooked. The question now becomes, does this domestic terrorist continue to harbor the same thoughts, and is she willing to teach the protesters of today what she and her cohorts learned many decades ago? The answer is — quite likely.
As recently as 2003, when a Weather Underground documentary was released, and a mere two years after terrorism had changed the landscape of America as we knew it, Jaffe penned an essay in which she describes resistance to the U.S. government as having two choices — violent and non-violent — and ultimately condones violent actions by refusing “to wring my hands over damage to some empty imperialist buildings.”18
She continues on, exercising caution towards actions which involve human life, but not specifically ruling it out:
Jaffe also seems to suggest that more creative tactics are necessary than those her group used in the ‘60s and ‘70s — not that militant action can’t be used, but that the same specific actions may be fruitless:
What’s truly frightening is that this woman is an active member of the Occupy Albany movement. And there is more
All-Star Group of Radicals
During the recent discussion promoted by Occupy Albany, Jaffe took a moment to mention each of the esteemed members of the panel, as well as some other experienced terrorists who were in attendance, a list that included some of the more notorious names in the Weather Underground.19 Aside from herself, the gathering included Jeff Jones, Eleanor Stein, Suzanne Ross, and Kathy Boudin. The following is a brief description of these individuals who were trying to “spark a dialogue” with young, impressionable minds in the Albany sect of Occupy Wall Street:
Boudin was convicted of murder and felony robbery, but released in 2003 by a New York parole board. Then Governor George Pataki denounced the decision saying, “The murder of a police officer should be punished to the fullest extent of the law." In this case, it was not, giving Boudin the opportunity to attend a teaching event for the budding Occupy Albany movement.
A Common Thread
What all of these radical members of the Weather Underground have in common is a working relationship with the unrepentant terrorist, Bill Ayers. Ayers himself has heaped praise upon the book in question, David Gilbert’s Love and Struggle.25
His history is well-documented. Ayers took part in a series of bombings in the 1970s, including New York City Police Department headquarters in 1970, the United States Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972.
Lest we forget that in regards to the day he successfully bombed the Pentagon, Ayers said, "Everything was absolutely ideal. ... The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."26
Additionally, the claim that Ayers and Dohrn and the group they represent never killed anybody, or never intended to, is contradicted by the evidence taken from the bomb factory and the murder of Sgt. Brian V. McDonnell, whose death has been blamed on Ayers and Dohrn by the San Francisco Police Officers Association.29
Perhaps what slips under the radar the most in covering the Bill Ayers/Bernardine Dohrn story, has been the testimony of FBI informant Larry Grathwohl to the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, in which he provided insider information regarding the San Francisco Police Station bombing, and subsequent murder of McDonnell in 1974.30 That information implicated Dohrn specifically in the bombing, and Ayers as an accessory.
During a meeting with Ayers, Grathwohl testified that, “he cited as one of the real problems was 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 that committed that act.” Grathwohl later added that Ayers may not have given the impression that he was there at the time, but he certainly provided details of the bombing, including “the kind of bomb that was used” and “what kind of shrapnel was used in it”.
Grathwohl tried tirelessly during the 2008 campaign to have his recollections of the violent acts committed by the two communist terrorists and associates of Barack Obama, heard.31 But the media largely ignored the story.
Media oversight however, does not change the testimony Grathwohl provided. Nor does it eliminate the mountain of evidence that points to the footprint of the Weather Underground in the San Francisco bombing, and several other bombings.
With such radicals guiding their path, could the Occupy movement be far from a similar point, in which they feel as if they’re not doing enough?
What are the concerns?
With a meeting involving five of the more accomplished domestic terrorists in the nation’s history under one roof, the concerns of a Weather Underground Meets Occupy Wall Street event should be self-explanatory. How does one interpret the intent of such a meeting?
In a 16-minute video released by the Sanctuary for Independent Media, Naomi Jaffe laid out the goal - “a very fruitful dialogue among generations and among activists about how to build a social justice movement”32 She explains that David Gilbert wrote his Weather Underground memoir as a response to requests from today’s activists.
Jaffe then moves on to introduce the aforementioned members of the radical network, with a special introduction for Kathy Boudin.
“We are very especially thrilled and honored to have with us, Kathy Boudin”, to which several of the attendees gave the convicted murderer a warm round of applause.
Delving into her own history, Jaffe explains that she was involved in the same events as her partner in crime, David Gilbert. She describes the crime for which David currently sits in jail, as being “done in resistance to an unjust system” similar to the “same injustices that we are seeing the Occupy movement reacting to resisting today.” In other words, justifying Gilbert’s criminal actions based on a perceived governmental oppression, and by extension justifying any resistance Occupiers may experience today.
In one of the more disgusting moments in her opening speech, Jaffe jokes about the Brinks robbery and a number of “expropriations” as necessary to support their work “because revolutionary work is not funded by government or by foundations.” The crowd responded with hearty laughter.
Despite explaining the reality of the Brinks robbery, and the three lives lost because of that incident, Jaffe continually downplays Gilbert’s role and the severity of the group’s actions, a dangerous tactic when discussing the past with the Occupy attendees who may think that violence in their own movement would be no big deal.
FBI informant, Larry Grathwohl responded to the multi-terrorist event as less of a surprise because, “They haven’t changed the color of any of their stripes even after all of these years.”
He noted the irony in David Gilbert’s choice of book title, Love and Struggle, saying that it “Seems just a little too much for someone convicted of 3 murder counts.” In regards to Jaffe, Grathwohl stated that her position has remained the same as when she was with the Weather Underground. He also points out that like most of these career radicals, there is always a downplaying of the crime being discussed, followed by a justification for their actions.
He added, “It makes me sick to watch and listen to this kind of BS, especially when I realize that 100 years ago, or less, these people would all be in prison or shot as traitors.”
What can the Occupy Albany movement learn by attending such a meeting involving Weather Underground radicals?
Now it seems, the Weather Underground is trying to nurture their efforts to make that difference, armed with bomb making know-how, and the experience of having already killed a “cop or two.” Further, saying that these individuals do not think the same way they did three or four decades ago is disingenuous at best. During the Weather Underground documentary in 2003 for example, Naomi Jaffe makes it clear that if she was given another shot, she'd "do it again."34
Is this really where the Occupy Wall Street movement is headed, a reversal to the radical ‘60s movement? Is this an element they long to be associated with?
Sympathizing with known murderers and terrorists because they share “common struggles” is an ominous sign.
1 Beam, Andrew. "Sanctuary for Independent Media's Director Hopes to Build Positive Relationship with City - Troyrecord.com." The Troy Record, 29 Jan. 2012. <http://www.troyrecord.com/articles/2012/01/29/news/doc4f24fcf3d6e4d985888384.txt?viewmode=fullstory>.
2 "Naomi Jaffe on David Gilbert's "Love and Struggle" YouTube. Mediasanctuary, 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RibnadxaMV4>.
3 "David Gilbert (activist)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 02 Dec. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gilbert_(activist)>.
4 Gado, Mark. "AMBUSH: THE BRINKS ROBBERY OF 1981." Terrorists. TruTV. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/terrorists_spies/terrorists/brinks/7.html>.
5 "Interview De David Gilbert (2 Avril 1985) [En Anglais]." Agence Presse Associative (APA). 02 Apr. 1985. <http://apa.online.free.fr/imprimersans.php3?id_article=171>.
6 "Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground and Beyond."YouTube. Tonedeafsolo, 13 Mar. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItIKNOeAubo>.
7 Gado, Mark. "AMBUSH: THE BRINKS ROBBERY OF 1981." Terrorists. TruTV. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/terrorists_spies/terrorists/brinks/2.html>.
8 "Occupy Spokesman: Movement To Become “More Radical" Pat Dollard, 20 Mar. 2012. <http://patdollard.com/2012/03/occupy-spokesman-movement-to-become-more-radical/>.
9 Weiss, Rusty. "Occupier Wants 'True Revolution', Refers to Clash in Syria That Kills 35 and Asks, "Why Aren't We Doing This?"" The Mental Recession. 14 Jan. 2012. <http://mentalrecession.blogspot.com/2012/01/occupier-wants-true-revolution-refers.html>.
10 "Naomi Jaffe." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Jaffe>.
12 Jaffe, Naomi. "First , I Want to Acknowledge That These Are Strange, Abnormal and Frightening times." Upstate Films. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.upstatefilms.org/weather/jaffe.html>.
13 Jaffe, Naomi. "Mass Incarceration and Economic Inequality." Occupy Albany Blog. Times Union, 20 Feb. 2012. <http://blog.timesunion.com/occupyalbany/588/588/>.
14 Levy, Dan. "Occupy Albany Kicks into Overnight Mode." WNYT.com. 22 Oct. 2011. <http://wnyt.com/article/stories/s2339879.shtml>.
15 "Remarks of Larry Grathwohl, Former FBI Informant in the Weather Underground." Speech. “Justice for Victims of Terrorism” Conference. 12 Mar. 2009. America's Survival, Inc. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.usasurvival.org/lg03.12.09.html#_ednref1>.
16 "Inside a Weather Underground Bomb Factory." America's Survival, Inc. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.usasurvival.org/docs/Rprt_Weather_Underground_bomb_factory.pdf>
17 "Officer Down Memorial Page." The (ODMP). Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.odmp.org/officer/8924-sergeant-brian-v-mcdonnell>.
18 Jaffe, Naomi. "First , I Want to Acknowledge That These Are Strange, Abnormal and Frightening times." Upstate Films. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.upstatefilms.org/weather/jaffe.html>.
20 "Jeff Jones Strategies." Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://jeffjones-strategies.com/>.
23 Gado, Mark. "AMBUSH: THE BRINKS ROBBERY OF 1981." Terrorists. TruTV. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/terrorists_spies/terrorists/brinks/4.html>.
24 Yardley, Greg. "Portrait of a Progressive Terrorist." FrontPage Magazine. 25 Aug. 2003. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=16674>.
25 Gilbert, David. "Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond." PM Press. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <https://secure.pmpress.org/index.php?l=product_detail&p=370>.
26 "Bill Ayers." Discover the Networks. Web. 26 Mar. 2012. <http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2169>.
28 Smith, Dinitia. "No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen." The New York Times, 11 Sept. 2001. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/11/books/no-regrets-for-love-explosives-memoir-sorts-war-protester-talks-life-with.html>.
29 Kincaid, Cliff. "Will the Truth Catch Up to Bill Ayers and His Comrades?" Accuracy In Media. 27 Sept. 2010. <http://www.aim.org/aim-column/will-the-truth-catch-up-to-bill-ayers-and-his-comrades/>.
31 Kincaid, Cliff. "FBI Informant Implicates Obama Associate in Murder." Accuracy In Media. 02 Nov. 2008. <http://www.aim.org/aim-column/fbi-informant-implicates-obama-associate-in-murder/>.
33 Weiss, Rusty. "Occupy: "We Won't Make a Difference If We Don't Kill a Cop or 2"" The Mental Recession. 19 Mar. 2012. <http://mentalrecession.blogspot.com/2012/03/occupy-we-wont-make-difference-if-we.html>.
34 Weigel, David. "Weathermen in Winter." Reason Magazine. 12 June 2003. <http://reason.com/archives/2003/06/12/weathermen-in-winter>.