The Weathermen

14 Apr

The Weather Underground Organization (WUO), commonly known as the Weather Underground, was an American militant radical left-wing organization founded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. Originally called Weatherman, the group became known colloquially as the Weathermen. Weatherman organized in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)[2] composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their supporters. Their goal was to create a clandestine revolutionary party for the overthrow of the U.S. Government.[3]

With revolutionary positions characterized by black power and opposition to the Vietnam War,[2] the group conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970s and took part in actions such as the jailbreak of Dr. Timothy Leary. The “Days of Rage“, their first public demonstration on October 8, 1969, was a riot in Chicago timed to coincide with the trial of the Chicago Seven. In 1970 the group issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the United States government, under the name “Weather Underground Organization”.[4]

The bombing campaign targeted mostly government buildings, along with several banks. The group stated that the government had been exploiting other nations by waging war as a means of solidifying America as a greater nation. Most were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with communiqués identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. No people were killed in any of their acts of property destruction, although three members of the group were killed in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion.

For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a communiqué saying that it was “in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos“. For the bombing of the Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated that it was “in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi“. For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State building, they stated that it was “in response to the escalation in Vietnam“.[4]

The Weathermen grew out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) faction of SDS. It took its name from Bob Dylan‘s lyric, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”, from the song “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965). “You Don’t Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows” was the title of a position paper that they distributed at an SDS convention in Chicago on June 18, 1969. This founding document called for a “white fighting force” to be allied with the “Black Liberation Movement” and other radical movements[5] to achieve “the destruction of U.S. imperialism and achieve a classless world: world communism“.[6]

The Weathermen began to disintegrate after the United States reached a peace accord in Vietnam in 1973,[7] after which the New Left declined in influence. By 1977, the organization was defunct.

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