>" Bill Ayers was born in December 1944 and was raised in a Chicago suburb. In the mid-1960s he taught at a radical alternative school -- part of the "free school movement" -- where students addressed teachers by their first names, and where no grades or report cards were given. By age 21, Ayers had become the director of that school. In 1968 he earned a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Michigan.
In the late Sixties, Ayers became a leader of the Weather Underground (WU), a splinter faction of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Characterizing WU as “an American Red Army,” Ayers summed up the organization's ideology as follows: “Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, Kill your parents.” One of Ayers' fellow WU leaders was Bernardine Dohrn, the woman who would later become his wife.
In a July 29, 1969 speech which he delivered at the University of Oregon, Ayers boasted of SDS's role in the Venceremos Brigades, a project initiated by the Cuban intelligence agency to recruit and train American leftists as “brigadistas” capable of waging guerrilla warfare.
Ayers was an active participant in the 1969 “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago, which were led by WU's antecedent group, Weatherman. In the mayhem, nearly 300 members of the organization engaged in vandalism, arson, and vicious attacks against police and civilians alike. Their immediate objective was to spread their anti-war, anti-American message. Their long-term goal, however, was to cause the collapse of the United States and to create, in its stead, a new communist society over which they themselves would rule. With regard to those Americans who might refuse to embrace communism, Ayers and his comrades -- including Bernardine Dohrn, Mark Rudd, Linda Evans, Jeff Jones, and numerous others -- proposed that such resisters should be sent to reeducation camps and killed. The terrorists estimated that it would be necessary to eliminate some 25 million people in this fashion, so as to advance the revolution.
In his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, Ayers recounts his life as a Sixties radical and boasts that he “participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972.” Of the day he bombed the Pentagon, Ayers writes, “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.” He further recalls his fascination with the fact that "a good bomb" could render even "big buildings and wide streets ... fragile and destructible," leaving behind a "majestic scene" of utter destruction.
All told, Ayers and the Weather Underground were responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S. "I don't regret setting bombs," said Ayers in 2001, "I feel we didn't do enough." Contemplating whether or not he might again use bombs against the U.S. sometime in the future, he wrote: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.”
In 1970, Ayers’ then-girlfriend Diana Oughton, along with Weatherman members Terry Robbins and Ted Gold, were killed when a bomb they were constructing exploded unexpectedly. That bomb had been intended for detonation at a dance that was to be attended by hundreds of Army soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Ayers himself attested that the bomb would have done serious damage, “tearing through windows and walls and, yes, people too.” Notably, Ayers' fingerprints were found at the bomb-making site, along with an assortment of anti-personnel weapons, stabbing implements, C-4 plastic explosive, and dozens of Marxist-Leninist publications.
After the death of his girlfriend, Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn spent the rest of the decade as fugitives running from the FBI. "<
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