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October 8: Days of Rage

October 8, 2012

The Weathermen faction of a splintered Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) launched its "Days of Rage" protest in Chicago on this date in 1969, based on John Gregory Jacobs' call to "bring the [Vietnam] war home." Three days of "direct action" against businesses, homes, cars, and cops grew out of a resolution written by Jacobs and adopted at the previous year's SDS National Council meeting in Boulder, Colorado: "The Elections Don't Mean Shit—Vote Where the Power Is—Our Power Is In The Street." The Days of Rage were attended by some 800 Weathermen supporters, of whom less than half were willing to face 2,000 Chicago police who had barricaded the streets. By the end of three days, 287 had been arrested. The Black Panthers' Fred Hampton, who would be murdered two months later by the Chicago police, denounced the Days of Rage as "anarchistic, opportunistic, individualistic, chauvinistic, Custeristic . . . It's nothing but child's play — it's folly." John Jacobs, a red-diaper baby and a veteran of the Columbia student uprising and the Chicago Democratic Convention protests of 1968, became a fugitive following the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion of 1970, and remained on the run for the remaining twenty-seven years of his life.

"We are small but we have stepped in the way of history. We are going to change this country. . . . The battle of Vietnam is one battle in the world revolution. It is the Stalingrad of American imperialism." —John Jacobs