"Ayer Head" Professor Defends Bill Ayers

April 13, 2009

Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor at the Northeastern University School of Journalism in Boston who writes for the British Guardian, has been caught spreading falsehoods about communist terrorist Bill Ayers. Yet, he refuses to correct the record, promising that he will one day "surprise" people with the truth about Bill Ayers and his connections to two Weather Underground members involved in the murder of a Boston police officer.

To borrow a phrase from Mark Thompson, a student parent who recently confronted Ayers at one of his propaganda sessions on the University of Illinois campus, Kennedy has revealed himself to be an "Ayer Head."

Specifically, Kennedy is defending Ayers against charges that members of his organization, Katherine Ann Power and Susan Edith Saxe, were convicted of involvement in a bank robbery and the murder of Boston Police Officer Walter A. Schroeder in 1970.

But a 1975 Senate Internal Security Subcommittee report and former top FBI official Oliver "Buck" Revell say that Power and Saxe were regarded by law enforcement authorities as members of the Weather Underground. An FBI document on the official FBI website explicitly identifies Power as a Weather Underground member.

Echoing Ayers, Kennedy claims that Ayers has been unfairly "demonized" and insists that, other than blowing up a bomb that killed three of their own members, the Weather Underground "radicals" never "killed nor injured anyone." This is a monstrous lie worse than his deceptions about Power and Saxe.

Weather Underground members Power and Saxe were not only involved in the murder of Schroeder and served prison time for it but Ayers himself told an FBI informant, Larry Grathwohl, that his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, had personally planted the bomb that killed San Francisco Police Sergeant Brian V. McDonnell in 1970. This case is still open and evidence is being gathered and analyzed.

What's more, the Weather Underground spin-off, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), murdered black educator Marcus Foster and bank customer Myrna Opsahl during a robbery and also blew up police cars in an effort to kill police officers. SLA member Sara Jane Olson was recently released from prison.

Another Weather Underground off-shoot, the Revolutionary Armed Task Force, which included members of the Black Liberation Army, conducted the 1981 robbery of a Brinks truck that left one police officer and two security guards dead. Dohrn spent 8 months in jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury about what she knew about the case.

Ayers and Dohrn signed the notorious "Prairie Fire" manifesto praising the BLA and the SLA as "leading forces in the development of the armed struggle..." This manifesto included a dedication to Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin of Robert F. Kennedy. A Weather Underground statement dated February 20, 1974, and signed by Dohrn had praised the SLA, which also kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, for raising "everyone's consciousness" about "the war between the rich and the poor."

Weather Underground members operated under a variety of names, including Red Guerrilla Resistance, Armed Resistance Unit, New World Liberation Front, and United Freedom Front.

It defies common sense and Journalism 101 for Kennedy to try to separate the Weather Underground and its leaders from their various cells or spin-offs.

Kennedy's bizarre comments have been thrust into the spotlight because Ayers had been scheduled to speak at Boston College. When Boston-based radio talk-show host (96.9 FM, WTKK) and Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham found out about it, he raised an outcry and sparked protests. Graham highlighted the fact that Katherine Ann Power, convicted in the 1970 bank robbery and murder of Officer Schroeder, was identified by the FBI as a member of the Weather Underground. As a result of the protests, Ayers' speech on campus was cancelled.

Considering the nature of the Schroeder murder, it's not surprising that Ayers and Dohrn and their followers would try to distance themselves from it. Schroeder, who was survived by a wife and nine children, was shot in the back three times.

Kennedy, who also writes for the Boston Phoenix and is a regular panelist on "Beat the Press" on public television station WGBH, has been adamant on his Media Nation blog that "Katherine Ann Power had no connection to the Weather Underground" and that "I have searched far and wide on several occasions, and I can find no evidence that anyone has ever linked Power or Saxe to the Weather Underground¯including the FBI." He based his conclusions on some Google and Amazon.com searches and a look at a heavily redacted FBI document on the Weather Underground posted on the Web.

Graham countered: "For the nitwits out there (including some moron who claims to teach at Northeastern University) who keep trying to argue that the murder of Officer Schroeder was unrelated to Ayers' Weather Underground, check out what the actual FBI has to say on the subject." This is a link to the FBI item about the Weather Underground that included a photo showing "Weather Underground members Bernardine Rae Dohrn and Katherine Ann Power."

Incredibly, Kennedy's response was that the FBI had erred. "Based on what I've found so far," he said, "I think someone in the FBI communications department made a mistake."

This is a classic response from someone who doesn't want to acknowledge that he is wrong. It is terrible for a journalist, let alone a journalism professor, to have such an attitude.

What ultimately needs to be done, of course, is to legally hold Ayers and his ilk accountable for what they did. And that is what the "Campaign for Justice for Victims of Weather Underground Terrorism" is all about. There is no statute of limitations on murder.

·        Please ask Professor Kennedy to correct the record and tell the truth. His email address is da.kennedy@neu.edu  His office telephone number is 617-373-5187.

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