Sunday, October 05, 2008

Old Domestic Terrorist Murder Investigations Reopened

"Last fall [2002], according to law enforcement sources, San Francisco police turned over its evidence to the US attorney, who took over the investigation. The government quietly convened a federal grand jury which subpoenaed former members of not only the Weather Underground but the Black Panthers and the more militant Black Liberation Army, which investigators believe was responsible for the Ingleside shooting."--KRON4 (11-10-03)

On August 29, 1971, police sergeant John Young was shot to death when two men walk into the Ingleside police station in San Francisco and opened fire on Young as he sat behind a glass partition. On February 16, 1970, officer Brian McDonnell was injured when a bomb exploded at San Francisco's Park Police Station. He died from his injuries two days later.

In about 2000, the San Francisco Police Department secretly reopened an investigation into the murders of two police officers killed in the 1970s. The police were armed with new forensic technology and help from state and federal agencies.

The potential suspects were Vietnam-era communist radicals now in their 60s such as the Weather Underground leader Bernardine Dohrn (pictured above), whose husband, Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, has been associated with Senator Barack Obama. [Search Dohrn or Ayers on this site.]

In 2003, the Bay Area news station KRON4 wrote a series of articles about the new investigations of these old cases. The first in the series was called "30-Y.O. Unsolved SF Murders Reopen" (11-10-03):

The unsolved murder of two San Francisco police officers has languished as cold cases for 30 years until now. A federal grand jury has been looking into the murders. Many of the people now under investigation both as potential targets and witnesses in this case are scattered across the country. Many of them are now in their 50s and 60s. Investigators believe the crimes were politically motivated and committed by militant radical groups.

...For three decades, the police murders remained unsolved. Evidence from the two crime scenes sat in the police property room.

KRON 4 News has learned that three years ago, San Francisco police secretly re-opened the case. Armed with new forensic technology and with State and Federal agencies helping, SFPD investigators began to work full-time on the murders.

And now, sources tell us, those investigators have identified potential suspects: former members of two militant groups in the '60s and '70s -- the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army, people who've been out of the spotlight for decades. The most prominent among them is Bernardine Dohrn, a former leader of the Weather Underground and now a law professor at Northwestern University in Illinois.

They started as the Weathermen during the latter half of the turbulent '60s. As they became more militant, they changed their name to the Weather Underground. It was a homegrown guerilla movement against the war in Vietnam and injustices at home. Its objective was to wage an armed struggle against the government.

The Weather Underground battled police at anti-war rallies. Members even broke LSD guru Timothy Leary out of prison. They bombed at least two dozen buildings across the country, including the Capitol and the Pentagon. Their targets: military and government offices and police departments.

In the early '70s, some of of the group led by Bernardine Dorhn escaped to the west coast. Dohrn was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. J. Edgar Hoover called her "the most dangerous woman in America."

For a time, according to law enforcement sources, Dohrn and her group lived in the Bay Area on a houseboat in Sausalito. Testimony before a federal grand jury in 1970 allegedly linked Dohrn to a February bombing attack of the Berkeley police department in which two officers were injured. And now, 30 years later, law enforcement sources tell KRON 4 News they believe Dohrn and members of the Weather Underground may have been responsible for the bombing of Park Police Station in San Francisco three days later, a bombing that killed officer Brian McDonnell. But police never had the evidence to prove it.

Dohrn remained a fugitive until 1980, when she and her husband Bill Ayers turned themselves in. Dohrn, who pleaded guilty to battery and jumping bail, was fined and placed on probation.

Last fall, according to law enforcement sources, San Francisco police turned over its evidence to the US attorney, who took over the investigation. The government quietly convened a federal grand jury which subpoenaed former members of not only the Weather Underground but the Black Panthers and the more militant Black Liberation Army, which investigators believe was responsible for the Ingleside shooting. [See the full text and the full series on the left.]

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