* Was a member of Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s
* Co-founder of the Weather Underground Organization
* A self-identified “communist revolutionary” in the 1960s
* Environmentalist who identifies “climate change and global warming” as his chief environmental concern
* Owns consulting firm that helps grassroots leftist organizations promote their agendas and fundraise successfully
* Served as a director of New York State’s chapter of the Apollo Alliance
Jeffrey Carl Jones was born into a Quaker family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 23, 1947. His father Al, was a conscientious objector who spent the World War II years in an isolated mountain work camp. In September 1965, Jeff enrolled at Antioch College in Ohio. About six weeks 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 Motherfuckers.”
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 bullshit. 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 motherfuckers who control this thing right on their ass.”
By 1969, Jones had been arrested a dozen times for protesting against the Vietnam War.
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.”
Many years later, in 2005, Jones’ son, Thai Jones, published a piece titled “My Radical Dad,” in which he wrote the following about what his father’s mindset and actions had been during 1969:
“He believed the world was in a phase of revolution and he was willing to sacrifice to be a part of it. Weatherman’s goal was to show solidarity with third-world people by forming a white fighting-force inside the imperialist mother country…. Jeff drove to Madison, Wisconsin, and crashed a meeting at the University. While his cohorts struck karate poses behind him, Jeff pushed the speaker away, grabbed the mic, and yelled, ‘You don’t see any motherfucking students at any motherfucking college up here on this stage. All of us up here are stone 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.
Jeff 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, 22 years earlier at the age of 5, had placed a slab of concrete on a railroad track and derailed a passenger train in California. 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. 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 1970, Jones, campaigning openly as a radical, was elected as the student-body president at the University of Texas, where he was working toward a graduate degree in comparative literature and served as a teaching assistant in the English department. Said an April 3, 1970 New York Times report about Jones’ election:
“Mr. Jones said his team had spent $40 on its campaign, which consisted chiefly of blanketing the campus with Yin‐Yang Conspiracy campaign cards listing members of the ticket. Yin and Yang, in Chinese philosophy, are thought to be opposing but complementary life forces whose interactions influence destiny. Asked to explain the name of his party, Mr. Jones said, ‘We just de cided to tack conspiracy at the end of it.’ The New Yorker credited his victory to his endorsement of the abolition of the grading system and foreign language requirements, providing abortion and birth control information at the Student Health Center, and establishing a $2.50 an hour minimum wage for university personnel.”
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 served as a communications director for Environmental Advocates of New York from 1995-2005. He subsequently founded Jeff Jones Strategies, a consulting firm devoted to helping grassroots leftist organizations promote their agendas and fundraise successfully. His clients included, among others, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Workforce Development Institute, the Apollo Alliance, 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.
During a Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) conference at New York City’s New School University in February 2007, Jones was elected as an MDS board member along with such notables as Mark Rudd, David Graeber, Judith Malina, Jesse Zearle, Kate Khatib, Roderick Long, Al Haber, Manning Marable (board chairman), Muhammed Ahmad, Charlene Mitchell, Starhawk, John O’Brien, Barbara Ehrenreich, Gideon Oliver, Bert Garskof, Paul Buhle (vice chair), Judith Malina (vice chair) and Jesse Zearle (vice chair).
From at least 2007-2009, Jones served as a 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 was 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 closely affiliated with the newly reconstituted Students for a Democratic Society.
Jones today identifies “climate change and global warming” as his chief environmental concern. “What bothers me about it,” he once stated, “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 …”
When Kathy Boudin, who had been a domestic terrorist with the Weather Underground Organization in the 1960s, died in May 2022, Jones and his wife, Eleanor Stein, co-wrote a tribute to Boudin that read, in part, as follows:
“For most of her 78 years, Kathy Boudin, who died on May 1, was a frontline activist and creative political thinker. Confronting white racism and supporting the Black freedom struggle defined her life, with some serious consequences along the way…. For those of us who shared so much of her life experience, as well as the many activists—young and old—who admired her and the close family who cherished her presence, Kathy’s passing is the loss of a friend, uncompromising radical, parent, and guide on the path to responsibility and redemption….
“In prison [to which she had been sentenced for her role in a deadly October 1981 Brinks robbery], Kathy became a leader in the fight against AIDS, and a pioneer in developing parent and child relationship opportunities for women in prison. Among her many post-prison accomplishments is her role in the creation of the Center for Justice at Columbia University. She dedicated her years of freedom to supporting others leaving the carceral system and helping develop programs to aid jailed parents in understanding and addressing the damage to children and families wrought by mass incarceration. She was a driving force behind Beyond the Bars, an annual conference that brought hundreds of activists together to hear from prison reform and abolition leaders like her life-long friend and fellow Little Red Schoolhouse graduate Angela Davis.”