Jeffrey Carl Jones was born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in February 1947. In September 1965 he enrolled at Antioch College in Ohio. A month later, he joined the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and became active as an anti-war speaker on college campuses. Also during the Sixties, Jones was a member of a radical group calling themselves “The Motherfuers.”1**
In 1966 Jones traveled to Cambodia to meet with high-ranking leaders of the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (a.k.a. National Liberation Front, or NLF) — i.e., America’s Communist enemies. In April 1967 he quit school to become the regional office coordinator of New York City’s SDS chapter, a position he would hold for approximately 20 months. In November 1967 the North Vietnamese Student Union invited Jones and three other American radicals to visit Hanoi. When the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to concerns for the safety of the invitees, Jones and his comrades opted instead to spend a week in Cambodia, where they met with representatives of the North Vietnamese and the NLF.
In August 1968 Jones participated in a large-scale protest at the site of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a protest that escalated into street riots. At one point, Jones shouted to his fellow rioters:
“The power belongs to the young people and the black people in this country. We’re going to remake this country in the streets. Don’t get hung up on this fourth party bullsh**. Don’t get hung up on peace candidates. Come on! We gotta fight it out where the only power we can build is. That’s at the base. We gotta build a strong base and someday we gotta knock those motherfu**ers who control this thing right on their ass.”
In 1969 Jones was elected to SDS’s national office, along with Bill Ayers and Mark Rudd. During his tenure with SDS, Jones became a sworn enemy of the United States government. Believing that America’s military involvement in Southeast Asia was immoral, he openly sided with the North Vietnamese Communists. Formally renouncing the conscientious-objector status that had been conferred on him as a result of his Quaker lineage, he began referring to himself and his ideological comrades as “communist revolutionaries.”
By mid-June of 1969, Jones, along with Bill Ayers and Mark Rudd, became a leader of SDS’s most militant wing and formed a new radical organization, Weatherman. The group issued a “manifesto” eschewing nonviolence and calling for armed opposition to U.S. policies; advocating the overthrow of capitalism; exhorting white radicals to trigger a worldwide revolution by fighting in the streets of the “mother country”; and proclaiming that the time had come to launch a race war against the “white” United States on behalf of the non-white Third World.
Jones helped to promote and organize an October 1969 demonstration in Chicago, timed to coincide with two significant events: (a) the trial of the “Chicago Seven” defendants who stood accused of having incited the aforementioned riots of 1968; and (b) the second anniversary of the death of Che Guevara.
“Bring the War Home” was the slogan for this latest Chicago rally. Addressing those in attendance, Jones claimed to be the living embodiment of Marion Delgado, a Chicano boy who, at the age of 5, had placed a slab of concrete on a railroad track and derailed a passenger train in California 22 years earlier. Though Delgado had never intended to cause such a tragedy, Jones and his fellow leftists revered the boy’s act for its symbolic value as an example of the immense destruction that even the small and powerless were capable of inflicting on the mighty.
At the end of his Chicago talk, Jones exhorted his listeners to take violently to the streets, thereby unleashing the so-called “Days of Rage” which featured rioters (many of them affiliated with Weatherman) smashing windows, destroying vehicles, and clashing with police. In the 1980s, Jones would reminisce about these Days of Rage:
“The point of [the action] was that if they’re going to continue to attack the Vietnamese and to kill the [Black] Panthers, then we as young white people are going to attack them behind the lines…. That’s why we … smashed up people’s private property … and fought the cops…. The situation was so grave, what the U.S. was doing — this of course was true — that we had to take extreme measures.”
Jones was arrested in October 1969 for his role in the Days of Rage, along with approximately 100 others.2 He was charged with “crossing state lines to foment a riot and conspiring to do so,” and his court date was scheduled for March 1970.
From December 27-31, 1969, Jones was one of approximately 400 members of SDS’s Weatherman faction to hold a “War Council” at a ballroom dance hall in Flint, Michigan. That venue was adorned with many large posters of Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevera, and Fidel Castro. Others in attendance included Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Tom Hayden. By the time it was over, the War Council yielded two major decisions. The first was that Weatherman would go underground and wage a violent, armed struggle against “AmeriKKKa,” always spelled with three K’s to signify the United States’ allegedly ineradicable white racism. The second decision was to dissolve SDS.
In March 1970 Jones failed to appear for his court date (in connection with his Days of Rage transgressions), and the FBI launched a manhunt to track him down. That same month, Jones and Weatherman formally issued a “Declaration of a State of War” against the U.S. government. For the first time, they used a new name, the “Weather Underground Organization,” adopting fake identities and restricting themselves exclusively to covert activities.
From this point forward, Jones would manage to elude law-enforcement authorities for a decade. After living for more than a year in San Francisco with fellow fugitive Bernardine Dohrn, Jones and Weather Underground comrade Eleanor Raskin relocated to New York’s Catskill Mountain region in 1971; during the years that followed, they would reside variously in New Jersey and the Bronx, New York.
In 1974 Jones co-authored — along with Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Celia Sojourn — the book Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-Imperialism, whose title was an allusion to Mao Zedong‘s observation that “a single spark can start a prairie fire.” This publication included such passages as the following:
In late October 1981, Jones and Raskin were caught in a police sweep of individuals suspected of having participated in the deadly robbery of an armored truck in Nyack, New York three days earlier. A week before their sentencing in December 1981, Jones and Raskin were married. At sentencing, Jones received probation and community service, while the charges against Raskin were dropped.
Jones thereafter spent ten years as a communications director for Environmental Advocates of New York. He currently heads Jeff Jones Strategies, a consulting firm that specializes in helping grassroots leftist organizations promote their agendas and fundraise successfully. His clients include, among others, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Workforce Development Institute, New Partners for Community Revitalization, the Land Trust Alliance, the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, the Healthy Schools Network, and the League of Conservation Voters.
Jones also serves as director of New York State’s chapter of the Apollo Alliance, which helped craft portions of the $787 billion “stimulus” legislation that President Barack Obama signed into law in early 2009.
In addition, Jones is a board member of West Harlem Environmental Action, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, the Healthy Schools Network, the Capital District Chapter of the League of Conservation Voters, and the financial arm of the Movement for a Democratic Society, a group that works closely with the newly reconstituted Students for a Democratic Society.
Jones today identifies “climate change and global warming” as his chief environmental concern, stating: “What bothers me about it is the impact that it will have on people, and the people who are least able to deal with it…. We know that sea-level rise is going to affect island nations, poor nations like Bangladesh. These are human-rights, social-justice issues …”
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