How Is Bill Ayers Related To The Weathermen Bomb Factory?


The Voice brought you news yesterday that the townhouse located at 18 West 11th Street, which served as a bomb factory for the Weather Underground until an accidental explosion, was on the market for $11 million.

We went a bit into the building’s storied history, but the Voice’s Graham Rayman brought some more info to our attention. The 1974 book Chief! — written by New York’s cigar-gnawing, former lead detective Albert A. Seedman — contains a few fascinating details about the relationship between the would-be bombers and Bill Ayers, the onetime Weathermen organizer whose relationship with Barack Obama has become highly politicized.

Recall that the quiet, tree-lined street in the heart of Greenwich Village — once home to Mark Twain and Thornton Wilder — was launched into global spotlight on March 6, 1970, when an accidental detonation of TNT killed three Weathermen: Theodore Gold, Diana Oughton, and Terry Robbins. Later reports indicate that had the rest of the dynamite detonated, the rest of the block would have been razed.

Kathy Boudin and Cathlyn Wilkerson, who also backed The Weather Underground’s radical activities, survived and immediately fled the scene. They were on the run for more than a decade before cops caught up with them.

So how does Ayers factor into all of this? Well, before Oughton became a revolutionary, she was in an education grad program at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbour. She got a gig at an “experimental free school for young children” which quickly “consumed far more time than her studies,” Seedman writes.

“At the school she met Bill Ayers, a spirited, handsome, and radical teacher whose father was chariman of the Chicago Edison Company and a trustee of Northwestern University. Diana and Bill were soon running the free school together.” They also reportedly started dating.

Enter Terry Robbins.

He had worked as a Students for a Democratic Society organizer in the Midwest, Seedman explains. He then transitioned into education, teaching “in the free school [Oughton] ran with Ayers.”

There you go: Ayers apparently came to know Oughton and Robbins at the experimental school. In addition, he is said to have largely lead the Weather Underground’s activities (but you already probably knew that info.) And with this, we conclude today’s brief, sporadic history lesson.