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Bill Ayers

Along with his wife Bernardine Dohrn, Bill Ayers was a 1960s leader of the homegrown terrorist group Weatherman, a Communist-driven splinter faction of Students for a Democratic Society. Characterizing Weatherman 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." Today Ayers is a professor of education and a Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois.

In the mid-1990s, Ayers and Dohrn hosted meetings at their Chicago home to introduce Barack Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois Senate. Ayers also contributed money to Obama’s 1996 Senate campaign.

In his 2001 screed, Fugitive Days, Ayers 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." All told, Ayers and Weatherman were responsible for some 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the United States. "I don't regret setting bombs, said Ayers in 2001, "I feel we didn't do enough." In Fugitive Days, Ayers reflects on whether or not he might use bombs against the U.S. in the future. "I can't imagine entirely dismissing the possibility," he writes.

In 1999 Ayers joined the Woods Fund of Chicago, where he served as a director alongside Barack Obama until the latter left the Woods board in December 2002. In 2002 (while Obama was still on the board), the Woods Fund made a grant to Northwestern University Law School's Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers' wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was employed.

At a 2007 reunion of former members of the Weather Underground and Students for a Democratic Society, Ayers complained about “a kind of rising incipient American form of fascism”; America’s “jingoistic patriotism, unprecedented and unapologetic military expansion, white supremacy …, attacks on women and girls, violent attacks, growing surveillance in every sphere of our lives, … the targeting of gay and lesbian people …”


In 2008 the Obama campaign produced a “fact sheet” pronouncing Ayers and Dohrn to be "respectable" members of the "mainstream" community.

To view a comprehensive profile and numerous supplemental resources about Bill Ayers, click here.


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