At a time where messages of peace and revolution filled the air, a rebel faction was forming on the University of Michigan campus. Splintering off from the Students for a Democratic Society, this clandestine group had formed under one common goal: overthrow the U.S. Government. Their name was the Weathermen, derived from the Bob Dylan song Subterranean Homesick Blues, and though their legacy may have been lost within the sands of time, formally they were considered one of the most dangerous domestic terrorist groups within the United States.
On June 18, 1969 the Weathermen’s first call to action was to take over the SDS national office and indoctrinate their Marxist philosophies into the hijacked organization. The plan went off without a hitch. A month later, core members of the group traveled to Cuba in order to meet with Castro and Northern Vietnamese representatives in order to pledge their solidarity in their battle.
September of 1969 would bring about the Weathermen’s first major indignant acts against the United States government. After 26 female members of the group were arrested in the Pittsburgh area for distributing call to action literature in the halls of a local high school, the group became heavily involved with the already established Black Panther Party.
Two core members of the group, Katherine Anne Power and Virginia Saxe, plotted to arm the Panthers and worked with accomplices to pull of a bank heist at the State Street Bank & Trust. Later in 1970, the group would follow up on their plot and steal 400 rounds of ammunition and weapons from a National Guard Armory before burning it to the ground. The clan then robbed another bank, killing three people in the process. Their haul was intended to help fund their organization, in conjunction with the Black Panther Party in order to overthrow the United States Government.
It was also during this time that other associates of the group planned to stage a riot at Chicago’s Days of Rage protest in order to “Bring the War Home” and encourage civil unrest within the community. Two days prior to the protests, the group bombed the Haymarket Police statue to kick off the festivities. Unfortunately for the Weathermen, the protest saw far less turnout than the organization had hoped. In spite of the low attendance rate, the Weathermen still took to the streets throughout the four day protest, smashing in shop windows and vandalizing public and private property in order to express their militant opposition to the Vietnam war. The police outnumbered the rioters, however, and as a result, six members of the organization were shot, while an additional 68 members were taken into police custody.
By the time December of 1969 rolled around, the group began taking to far more drastic measures in order to attract attention to their dismay with the United States Government and the war abroad. The group admitted to bombing several police cars after police fatally shot two key leaders of the Panthers Party. This would mark a pivotal turning point within the group. Officially changing their name to the Weather Underground Organization, the group vowed to dedicate themselves to sabotaging the government by any means necessary.
1970 would prove to be the most active year for the organization. Within that year alone, the group took credit for at least 11 separate bombing incidents which included police stations, banks, and other public buildings. In addition to the bombings, the WUO also orchestrated a jail break for the Psychedelic Pied Piper, Timothy Leary. It was also during this time that the Greenwich Village Townhouse explosion occurred after a bungled bomb-making effort. Three were killed and two more were injured. Many members were arrested in connection with the organization’s activities and several more were placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Up until the group informally begins to disband in 1976 at least 14 more bombings are credited to the group, including one at the Pentagon. In spite of their violent tactics, the group justifies their acts as a means for attention with no intention of actually injuring anyone. The group alleges that they always called in the threats before the bombs were detonated.
Between 1976 and 1987, many key leader are arrested or turn themselves over to police. Others went on the run. Most key leaders within the organization went on to become teachers and college professors.