‘I Knew They Loved Spending Time With Us…But I Also Knew We Were Good Cover.’

Bernardine Dohrn. Photo by Voyou Desoeuvre, Flickr

When Weathermen did get around to bombing things, the preparation and execution remained fraught with risk. Long-haired young people lingering outside courthouses and police stations late at night tended to draw attention in the early 1970s. It occurred to Dohrn, and to others in the leadership, that disguises alone wouldn’t ensure their safety. Thus the question arose: What could they take along to reliably deflect a policeman’s curiosity? One answer was children.

No beat cop, they reasoned, would suspect a family with kids out for an evening stroll. It was a brilliant idea; the only problem was, no one in Weather had children. A handful of supporters did, however, and this was how one of Dohrn’s friends, the Chicago attorney Dennis Cunningham, saw his family drawn into clandestineness…

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“I went to L.A. a bunch of times,” Delia [Dennis Cunningham’s daughter] recalls. “I would play while they had meetings. There was a lot of time in cars. Bernardine and Billy always had cool cars, 50s cars. We would go to movies, old films, Chaplin films. Later I started going on trips, into the countryside, to other cities, trips on airplanes, on trains, cross-country, once or twice to upstate New York, where I think we stayed when Jeff Jones moved there. I knew they loved spending time with us, my siblings included, but I also knew we were good cover. The two things went together well. I know Mom was really into that, that we were helping. Did we scout out bombing targets? Yeah, I think so. I never actually saw anything explode, but it was always discussed. ‘We had a great action. We’re going to be discussing an action.’”

—Bryan Burrough writing in Vanity Fair about the Weather Underground, a radical leftwing organization known for detonating dozens of bombs across the country during the ’70s.

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