Last modified on May 7, 2021, at 04:46

William Ayers

William Ayers as he appeared in Chicago Magazine.
William Charles "Bill" Ayers (born December 26, 1944 in Oak Park, Illinois) is currently a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and former Chicago community organizer. He is best known as a founder of the internationally supported terrorist Weather Underground Organization (WUO), and as a good friend of U.S. President Barack Obama. The WUO has often mistakenly been labeled as a Vietnam War era protest organization, however many of the organizations activities continued well past the end of American involvement in Vietnam,[1] the fall of South Vietnam, and the victory of the atheistic Communist regime of North Vietnam, which was the groups oft stated goals.

Ayers is the husband of terrorist Bernardine Dohrn.

Early life and upbringing

Ayers grew up in a wealthy home as the son of Thomas G. Ayers, former Chairman and CEO of Commonwealth Edison.[2] He lived in Glen Ellyn, a suburb of Chicago. Ayers attended public schools and received a bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1968. At age 21, Ayers became director of the Children's Community, a small school in a basement that did not have grades, report cards, and had children address teachers by their first names. It was part of a "free school movement."

Internationally sponsored terrorism

Bill Ayers in August 1968.

In 1968, Ayers became leader of the Students for a Democratic Society, and then a prominent leader of the violent "Weatherman group." The group was associated with other international communist guerrilla and terrorist groups, including the Vietcong. Its objective was the furtherance of Soviet foreign policy and the defeat of the U.S. in Vietnam. In May 1970, the organization issued a Declaration of War[3] against the United States authored by Bernardine Dohrn who was later to become Ayers wife but not until other members of the group, including Ayers girlfriend at the time, blew themselves up in a bomb making factory in Greenwich Village New York City.

SDS leaflet organizing the Chicago Days of Rage, October 11, 1969. [7]

The WUO was responsible for roughly 72 bombings in all, including the United States Capitol (March 1, 1971), The Pentagon (May 19, 1972), the United States Department of State (January 28, 1975)[4] and numerous other targets. In 1969, the Weather Underground planted a bomb at a statue dedicated to police casualties in the 1886 Haymarket Riot. The statue was blown into pieces, but was rebuilt in 1970. It was blown up again by the Weather Underground, five months later.

Ayers stated, "I'm not so much against the war as I am for a Vietnamese victory," and "I'm not so much for peace as for a U.S. defeat."

In 1970, Ayers explained what the Weather Underground was all about: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents, that's where it's really at."[5]

San Francisco Police Department bombing

In sworn testimony before the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee on October 18, 1974,[6] an FBI informant declared,

"When he [Bill Ayers] returned, we had another meeting at which time -- and this is the only time that any Weathermen told me about something that someone else had done -- and Bill started off telling us about the need to raise the level of the struggle and for stronger leadership inside the Weathermen 'focals' [i.e., cells] and inside the Weatherman organization as a whole. And 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."

The informant, Larry Grathwohl, added that Ayers said "the bomb was placed on the window ledge and described the kind of bomb that was used to the extent of saying what kind of shrapnel was used in it." He was asked, "Did he say who placed the bomb on the window ledge?" He replied, "Bernardine Dohrn."[7]

The San Francisco Chronicle reported on March 12, 2009, in a highly unusual move, the San Francisco Police Officers Association have accused Ayers and his wife of taking part in the bombing. The Association claims,

There are irrefutable and compelling reasons to believe that Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn ... are largely responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station,
and a cold case investigation is being called for.[8][9]

Prairie Fire Organizing Committee and Maoist thought

See also: Prairie Fire Organizing Committee and Maoist Thought
Prairie Fire.jpg

In 1974, William Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Jeff Jones and other members formed the Prairie Fire Organizing Committee, the publishing arm of the Weather Underground Organization. The name was inspired by mass murderer Mao Zedong who said, "a single spark can set a prairie fire." Its first book was Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-imperialism. In this book, William Ayers admits that he is a communist,

"We are a guerrilla organization. We are communist women and men, underground in the United States for more than four years."
Prairie Fire is dedicated to Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's assassin.

Interestingly, the book lists Sirhan Sirhan, Robert F. Kennedy's assassin, among many other now-obscure '60s-era radicals, criminals and revolutionaries on the dedication page.

Ayers and his fellow co-authors brag about their numerous acts of domestic terrorism, and provide a handy list detailing not only each crime but in most cases the justification for each crime as well.

Ayers and his fellow co-authors brag about their numerous acts of domestic terrorism.

Among the bombings by Ayers' group listed in the book:

  • Haymarket police statue, Chicago
  • Chicago police cars
  • New York City police headquarters
  • Marin County Courthouse
  • Long Island City Courthouse
  • Department of Corrections, San Francisco
  • Office of California Prisons, Sacramento
  • Department of Corrections, Albany New York
  • 103rd Precinct of New York City police
  • Harvard Center for International Affairs
  • U.S. Capitol
  • MIT research center
  • The Pentagon
  • Draft and recruiting centers
  • ROTC buildings
  • ITT Latin America Headquarters
  • National Guard Headquarters, Washington D.C.
  • Presidio Army Base and MP Station, San Francisco
  • Federal Offices of Health, Education and Welfare, San Francisco [10][11][12]

"Guilty as hell, free as a bird"

Bill Ayers, his wife Bernardine Dohrn and other WUO figures were not prosecuted because of alleged FBI misconduct while investigating the foreign influence in domestic terrorism. In fact, FBI officials W. Mark Felt[13] and Edward S. Miller were indicted and convicted in November 1980 of conspiring to violate the civil rights of relatives of the Weather Underground, including Jennifer Dohrn,[14] sister of Bernardine, whose homes had been burglarized.

However, on April 15, 1981, President Ronald Reagan in his first 100 days granted full and unconditional pardons, saying, in part:

Messrs. Felt and Miller followed procedures they believed essential to keep the Director of the FBI, the Attorney General, and the President of the United States advised of the activities of hostile foreign powers and their collaborators in this country.[15][16]

At the end of Ayers Fugitive Days he writes that he is "Guilty as hell, free as a bird—it’s a great country." Historian Ronald Radosh reviewing Fugitive Days in the Weekly Standard notes, "As for those who might believe without irony that America is a great country, Ayers has one reaction: 'It makes me want to puke.'"[17]

Fugitive Days

Today, Ayers and his wife—fellow former Weather Underground fugitive Bernardine Dohrn—live in Hyde Park, where they moved after surrendering in 1980.

In a 2001 interview with the New York Times, an unrepentant Ayers said, "I don't regret setting bombs" and "I feel we didn't do enough." Ayers later claimed that he was quoted out of context, and that he meant that he felt that he had not done enough to oppose the war in Vietnam, which he defined as "[an] illegal, murderous, imperial war." [18]

Ayers has claimed that his actions were not terrorist acts.[19] He has stated that according to the official definition of both the U.S. and the U.N., terrorism consists of violent acts intended to intimidate or coerce a populace into a political end, and that his actions were intended to draw attention to and combat the state terrorism of the U.S. in the Vietnam War. In his autobiography, Fugitive Days, Ayers claimed that his bombing of the Pentagon prevented aerial bombardments in Vietnam for several days, which he defined as terrorism. In this regard, Ayers has implied that he prevented terrorism rather than caused it.

Asked if he would do it all again, Ayers stated, I don't want to discount the possibility.

Ayers rebellion against authority also extended to sexual morality. He stated that that the Weathermen tried to Smash Monogamy, and engaged in fornication, including for Ayers, homosexual relations with his best male friend.[20]

Obama, the Annenberg Challenge, ACORN and the Woods Fund

Ayers and Barack Obama worked together at the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), from 1995-1999, an organisation that funneled money to ACORN. On his curriculum vitae, Ayers identifies himself as the co-founder and grant writer of the Annenberg Challenge Grant of $49,200,000 and the one who obtained this and other grants for "the support of the Small Schools Workshop and/or the Chicago forum for School Change at the University of Illinois at Chicago..."

Obama joined Ayers again in a paid nine-member board of the Woods Fund of Chicago. Ayers also says that he obtained grants from the Chicago-based MacArthur foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Woods Fund, on whose board he sat with Barack Obama from 1999 to 2002.

The announcement of Obama's candidacy for higher office was made in the home of Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn in 1995.

In 2001, Ayers supported and contributed $200 to Obama's state Senate campaign.[21]

Obama was asked about the relationship in an April 2008 Presidential debate by moderator George Stephanopoulos:

"Can you explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem?"

To which Obama replied,

"This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense, George"

In February 2008, Obama Chief Strategist David Axelrod said:

"Bill Ayers lives in his neighborhood. Their kids attend the same school … They’re certainly friendly, they know each other, as anyone whose kids go to school together." He called Ayers current defense of his 1960s bombings "objectionable, and I think Barack would also say that was objectionable. I don't think he's ever had an in-depth discussion [with Ayers] about them."[22]

In an October 2008 article in American Thinker, Jack Cashill presented evidence that Ayers ghostwrote Obama's first book, "Dreams From My Father". He based his assertion on a comparison of the writing styles of Bill Ayers' 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days, and Barack Obama's earlier 1995 book, Dreams From My Father, and came to the conclusion that Ayres had ghostwritten Dreams.[23]

In 2013, Ayers called for every American President of this century, including Obama, to be tried at the Hague for "war crimes."[24]

See also


  1. Ambush:The Brinks Robbery of 1981, truTV - Crime Library: Terrorists, The Weather Underground & Black Liberation Army
  2. Northwestern University, Obituary: Thomas Ayers Served as Board Chair from 1975 to 1986 [1]
  3. FBI file, Weather Underground Declaration of a State of War
  4. FBI file Weather Underground pgs. 67-71 pdf
  6. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, October 18, 1974 quoted in Communism in Chicago and the Obama Connection, USA Survival, Inc.
  7. Did Ayers' wife kill policeman? FBI report said Dohrn named as bomb builder, planter,, October 16, 2008.
  8. S.F. police union accuses Ayers in 1970 bombing, Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle March 12, 2009.
  9. Ayers, Dohrn Murder Case Reopened
  10. William Ayers' forgotten communist manifesto: Prairie Fire,, October 22, 2008
  11. Forgotten Terrorist Manifesto: Prairie Fire, Bob Ellis, Dakota Voice, October 24, 2008
  12. Reading Bill Ayers, Michelle Malkin,, October 23, 2008
  13. Nixon and the FBI: The White House Tapes, National Security Archive, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
  15. Statement on Granting Pardons to W. Mark Felt and Edward S. Miller, April 15, 1981.
  16. Two Top F.B.I. Officials Cleared, New York Times, December 1, 1983.
  17. Don't Need a Weatherman : The clouded mind of Bill Ayers. by Ronald Radosh, The Weekly Standard, 10/08/2001, Volume 007, Issue 04.
  18. Bill Ayers' blog, Episodic Notoriety–Fact and Fantasy, by Bill Ayers, 4/06/2008 [2]
  19. Bill Ayers' blog, Episodic Notoriety–Fact and Fantasy, by Bill Ayers, 4/06/2008 [3]
  20. No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives, N.Y. Times, September 11, 2001
  21. [4]
  22. Politico, Ax on Ayers, by Ben Smith, February 26, 2008 [5]
  23. American Thinker, October 26, 2008, Who Wrote Dreams From My Father?, by Jack Cashill, October 09, 2008 [6]
  24. Bill Ayers: Obama should be put on trial for war crimes, Fox News, 18 June 2013

External links