Prison Break of Timothy Leary

In September of 1970, The Weather Underground, after being paid 20,000 dollars, broke Dr. Timothy Leary out of prison. Leary was at the time a L.S.D advocate and counter culture hero who was being incarcerated for a ten year sentence due to the possession of two marijuana joints. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love, a counter culture LSD advocacy group spearheaded by Leary himself paid the Weather Underground. Soon after 25 members of Weather broke Leary out of prison, then by going from cell to cell, smuggled him and his wife to Algeria. When arriving in Algeria Leary joined forces with Black Panther leader Eldrige Cleaver and obtained his freedom. During his stay in Algeria, Leary was interviewed and quoted saying, “World war 3 has begun, join us, (in relation to the Black Panther, Weather Underground and other culture movements of the time) because we’re happy, and we’re free, and we’re going to make the world free” (See Communiqué’s and Publications for Leary’s P.O.W. Communique). This quote has been used quite often as another driving force behind the ideology of the Weather Underground after these events.

Communiqués and Publications

You Don’t Need A Weatherman To Know Which Way The Wind Blows (New Left Notes, June 18, 1969) “Long live the victory of the peoples war!” This lengthy piece is the Weather Underground’s Manifesto. The manifesto focused on how to overthrow capitalism and make a communism base while using international forces, such that they had been gaining from trips to Cuba. After explaining their struggle for “Socialist Self-Determinism” they defined black liberation as revolution.

WUO reminds us that it was born out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement faction of Students for a Democratic Society –something like 50% of people were under the age of 18 in the 70’s; as well as most likely working class– which is fighting US imperialism, their goal? Communism. By stressing the impact of US imperialism internationally as well as nationally, WUO hope to provide an answer questions of the nature of the organization. WUO provides two stages that they believe will have to happen for revolution. The anti-imperialist stage and the socialist stage. One to rally up the masses and one to make change.

The Weather Underground didn’t always plan on bombing buildings. In fact their first Communiqué wasn’t about a bomb at all. Issued on May 21, 1970 it was “A declaration of a State of War”. Making known that:

“Freaks are revolutionaries and revolutionaries are freaks. If you want to find us, this is where we are. In every tribe, commune, dormitory, farmhouse, barracks and townhouse where kids are making love, smoking dope and loading guns- [where] fugitives from Amerikan justice are free to go.”

The Weather Underground found it important to ally third world countries and their rebellions in order to strengthen the fight at home. Subsequent communiques including Communiqué 2 written on June 9 and Communiqué 3 written on July 26, 1970, were announcements of bombs that they were taking credit for. Both of which they called in before hand to try to make sure no one was hurt. In response to things like the murder of Fred Hampton, Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and Amerikan imperialism riots and bombs were communicated to the public. The communiqué’s were written not only to give reasoning for their violence but also to make connections and alliances throughout the country.

The fourth Communiqué was written on September 15, 1970 after the successful escape of Timothy Leary from prison, who joined The Weather Underground in their war, despite his previous non-violent stroke. Leary also wrote “The P.O.W. Communiqué” noting the time for peace has past, that “this is a war for survival” and calling for mass resistance.

“New Morning” issued in December of 1970 was another communiqué that didn’t accompany a bomb. This communication directly responds to the townhouse explosion that killed three of their own. In response to the incident there was a massive tactical move from their previous intentions to bomb the police ball in Fort Dix, to attacking symbols of American Imperialism. This shift is hidden by the media when they describe WUO as “terrorists”. In this article they write “Kent and Augusta and Jackson brought to all of us a coming of age, a seriousness about how hard it will be to fight in Amerika and how long it will take us to win.” This article is their first communication that personalizes their story, speaks about specific actions and brings humanity to the WUO. These are probably the same reasons it has been excluded from the media’s coverage, unlike Dohrn’s other communiqués which are quoted often.

Other publications include “Prairie Fire” (1974) and “Osawatomie” (1975). Prairie Fire, a manifesto calling again for mass resistance against US imperialism. As for Osawatomie, you can’t hear about it now-a-days without seeing Obama criticism. A newspaper written and published while they were underground was a successful way of working from the inside for revolution. The paper concerns itself with Weather Underground issues and tries to encourage action on the local level to organize a socialist movement.

Communiqués were important because they not only announce and take credit for bombs, it was a way to “share thoughts, ideas and analysis with the movement” according to Dan Berger’s article “The Weather Underground’s place in history: A response to Jonah Raskin, Socialism Democracy”. Communiqués were important for making the WUO’s ideology known and spreading their message.