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March 21, 1970 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-03-21

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I Saturday,, March 21, 1970

THE MICHIGAN [DAILY

Page Five

SaturdayMorch 21, 1970 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Five

Diana

Ough ton, 1942-70:

Portrait

of

a

radical

By JIM NEUBACHER
News Editor
@ 1970, The Michigan Daily
Diana Oughton died March 6, her body
id her dreams of a better world shattered
by a dynamite blast in a Greenwich Village
townhouse.
How she got to New York-the long, evo-
lutionary process that took Diana from a
quiet upbringing in a small midwestern
town to revolutionary bomb-building in the
ation's largest city-involves a chain of
events and mental decisions not well under-
stood by those who knew her less than inti-
mately.
For those who knew her in Dwight, Illi-'
nois, the small, pleasant town 37 miles
southwest of Joliet where she was born 28
wears ago, news that she was involved with
the Weathermen in New York came as a
shock.
Diana, they knew, was the daughter of the
most prestigious man in town, a bank vice
president and candidate for the state legis-
lature who was wealthy, popular, and phil-
'nthropic. She had lived in the conservative
atmosphere of Dwight through her first
year of high school, making straight A's and
sitting on the student council. Then she
went off to private, exclusive schools in the
East.
A classmate, John Kresl, who has re-
d6ained in Dwight and now coaches and
teaches at the junior high school there, re-
members Diana this way: ,
"She was real nice, popular, by far the
smartest kid in the class. You'd never know
she had a lot of money in her family be-
cause she was interested in people, she car-
-*d about them, and she was active in
things."
Kresl agrees with the assessment of ano-
ther close friend of the family who says
Diana made a "complete reversal from the
way she was years ago." Kresl.was one of
the few people in Dwight who knew of Di-
vina's membership in Students for a Demo-
cratic Society, yet he was still shocked at
the nexts of her death in what police have
described as a "bomb-factory."
"She just wasn't like that, not when she
was here," he says.
Diana left Dwight to attend her last three
,wears of high school at the Madeira School
in Greenway, Virginia, and then went to
study at fashionable Bryn Mawr, from which
she graduated in 1963.
It was at this juncture in her life that Di-
ana made her first great commitment to a
cause in an attempt to help those who need-
ed it. She went to Guatemala for the Ameri
Ilan Friends Service Committee to teach
reading, staying there for two years and re-
turning in late 1965. According to friends,
this is where Diana began to get "radicaliz-
ed."

-Daily-Thomas R. Copi
A leader in the Jamnes Gang
"The thing that happened to Diana is
what 'happened to a whole lot of people in
our generation," says a friend who knew her
well in Ann Arbor. "It was the Kennedy
thing. After he was killed in '63, she went
to Guatemala for two years, and tried to do
something. When she came back, she un-
derstood a lot. She understood American
imperialismfirst hand, and began to devel-
op a good class analysis."
Yet Diana was far from being a full-
fledged radical when she returned. She
came to Ann Arbor in 1966 to enroll in the
University as a master's candidate in ele-
mentary education. It was then she became
involved in the Ann Arbor Community
School, an experimental innovative project
in elementary education. At the community
school, free education was provided to young
children in the Summerhill tradition of un-
fettered, curiosity-stimulating education.
And it was at the community school
where she fell in love with Bill Ayers, son
of a prominent, rich corporation head in
Chicago, a concerned young man who was
one of the prime movers of the community
school project.
For the next three years, until her death
two weeks ago, she and Ayers progressed on
parallel courses, loving, counseling, and in-
fluencing each other politically and socially.
From essentially conservative humanitarian
beginnings, they evolved rapidly into radi-
cals, then militants, bypassing their friends,

bypassing SDS, emerging as the leaders of
a militant vanguard cadre of true revolu-
tionaries determined to remove all the ob-
stacles standing in the way of their making
this world as beautiful as they thought it
could be.
It was a bad experience at the community
ity school that provided the launching point
for both Ayers and Diana to become active
in SDS. Atate building inspectors threatened
to close the school unless large amounts of
money were invested to bring the building
up to code. Rather than do that the, school
moved, moved again when the state officials
repeated their demands and finally, faced
with the prospect of spending nearly $50,000
for a new building, closed for good.
"Bill became disillusioned when the city
and the state stepped on him and the com-
munity school," says a friend who now lives
in New York.
Soon after, in the summer of '68, Ayers
and Diana went with Eric Chester, a local
SDS leader at the time, to the SDS national
convention in East Lansing.
Fresh from a struggle with the system ov-
er the school, they found appeal in the
words of the SDS leaders there. Both be-
came active, and began what was to become
a lightning-fast radical evolution.
Back in Ann Arbor in the fall of '68, Ayers
and Diana emerged as members of tVe mili-
tant Jesse James Gang, which maiaged to
oust Chester and his campus-oriented fol-
lowers from the local SDS charter. From
there, Diana and Ayers moved cuickly into
first the regional, and then national ranks
of SDS. By December '68, at a national SDS
convention in Ann Arbor, Ayers was being
talked about as a potential national officer
of the organization.
Diana moved with Bill during this period,
prompting the uninformed to say that she
was "duped" by Ayers, that she was led into
radicalism while blinded by love. But both
close friends and detached observers who
knew her during this period are emphatic in
their insistence that Diana knew what she
was doing, that she thought for herself.
"She was Bill's sidekick, but she wasn't
an ideologue of any kind," says one of the
observers. Not a radical himself, this ob-
server said Diana thought for herself, and
argued rationally about politics. "She was
definitely political but never strident," he
says.
Student Government Council president
Marty McLaughlin, as a leader of the Radi-
cal Caucus during the SDS power struggle
with the Jesse James Gang, faced Diana
across the semantic firing lines. He makes
the same point:
"She was one of the few on their side you
could talk to without wanting to punch in
the nose," he says.
And a local police detective whose job it
is to keep an eye on student radicals says

Teaching at the Community School: A beginning, a commitment

"She was a radical, but you could commun-
icate with her."
That Diana was an independent radical
thinker rather than "Bill's girl" following
blindly in his political footsteps is further
evidenced by the change which took place
in their relationship around the time of the
December '68 SDS national convention here
in Ann Arbor. To the outside observer, it
looked as if they were "breaking up". But
that isn't what happened.
"What happened," says an Ann Arbor
radical who knew Diana as well as any-
body, "is that their relationship got more
revolutionary. They moved beyond mono-
gamy."
A radical young woman who knew Diana
well puts it even more succinctly.
"Diana understood what Women's Liber-
ation meant far better, than anyone I ever
knew," she says. "And she lived it. She was-
n't just concerned with the pill, or abor-
tion, or equal employment. She knew those
were just symptoms."
Diana, she explains, believed that a liber-
ated woman must take her place as a radi-
cal thinker and doer in the realm of the
"intei'national struggle," relating to her pri-
marily male colleagues as a revolutionary,
not as a woman. Doing this, the friend as-
serts, proved that Diana was not a slave to
Ayers' intellect.
"To say that she was influenced by one
man, Ayers, may be true, but it's only a
small part of it," the friend says. "Where
Diapa was at was a long way from that."
Just where was Diana? She was organiz-
ing, with Ayers and other SDS leaders, as
a regional traveler. In February '69 she and
Ayers and Jim Mellon were instrumental in
organizing a protest rally at Michigan State
University over the refusal of the adminis-
tration to grant tenure to a popular psy-
chology instructor. During the summer of
that year, friends say she traveled to Cuba.

It was during ' that summer that the
"Weatherman" was born, child of the long-
festering, three-way split in SDS between
the campus-oriented student power advo-
cates, the socialists interested in a worker-
student alliance, and the militant revolu-
tionaries led by Mark Rudd of Columbia. It
was this last faction which became the
Weatherman, and which claimed 10,000
members six months later-among they Bill
Ayers and Diana Oughton.
In the fall, Diana and Ayers went their
separate ways for a while. She moved to
Flint in September, where, in a house on E.
Fourth St. she set up regional Weatherman
headquarters with John Pilkington and Dav-
id Chase. She was arrested once while in
Flint while trying to organize high school
students on school grounds, and during the
fall, was observed by intelligence officials
while organizing and participating in stu-
dent actions at Oakland and Wayne State
Universities.
In October, she came to Ann Arbor on
"business" and a friend recalls that he no-
ticed that she had become more militant,
She went to a meeting at Canterbury House,
he says, where she tried to persuade people
to join in a "Weatheraction" scheduled for
the following week in Chicago. The major-
ity of the audience, the observer remembers,
turned on Diana, condemning the militancy
of Weatherman, and accusing her of at-
tempting to lead sheep to the slaughter.
She went to Chicago herself, and was ar-
rested Oct. 9 along with 11 other women
during a bloody, window-smashing, police-
fighting march by over 300 of the militants.
Released on bail, she went back to Flint,
where she remained until November, plan-
ning for action at the Nov. 15 moratorium
action in Washington. (Ayers reportedly at-
tempted to blackmail march organizers for
$20,000, promising not to create violence °in

return for the money. Organizers said no
deal.)
Diana left Flint at the end of Npvember,
and never returned. Neither did Pilkington
or Chase. Little is known about her activities
between then and her death March 6 in
New York, except that she helped to organ-
ize and participated in the first national
Weatherman conference in Flint in late De-
cember, '69. At that conference, police and
FBI officials believe, plans were laid for a
series of violent actions in the spring of
1970.
"The fact that they .kept quiet and didn't
talk about what they were doing is the rea-
son they were able to do what they did,"
says a radical who had some limited contact
with her during the last three months of her
life. He describes how Diana, and her circle
of close friends, grew more and more radi-
cal:
"A whole new collective consciousness
came out of the internal struggle of SDS,"
he says. "They were becoming more organ-
ized, more sure of themselves, more revolu-
tionary. They were the Americong. The gov-
ernment drops bombs on the people in Viet-
nam, so they felt someone should put bombs
in buildings in New York City. They adopted
an analysis on an international warfare lev-
el, and they lived it."
"The group she was with, they move so
fast in their heads and in their actions that
it's hard to speculate where she was going
or where she would have wound up," he con-
tinues. "And now, we'll never know."
Diana Oughton died suddenly, her death
bringing an end to a chain of events which
began with her trip to Guatemala after gra-
duation from Bryn Mawr-a chain of events
beginning with action and commitment and
leading to perceptions- and realizations
which, in turn, prompted her on at an ever-
increasing speed to new commitments in
what was eventually a self-consuming cycle.

-Dalry-Andy Sacks

. R. Harrison: A day in

the ife ..

By ERIC SIEGEL
T. R. Harrison is a freshman.
in t h e College of Literature,
Science and t h e Arts. He' is
small of stature, and he prob-
ably doesn't weigh more than
140 pounds. He is also black.
Thursday afternoon, Harrison
was arrested in front of the Ad-
ministration Bldg. and charged
with assault with intent to do
great bodily harm less than
murder, a felony.
Harrison was one of a crowd
of close to 1,000 students, black
and white, who had gathered
outside the Administration Bldg.
to protest the Regents action on
a list of demands presented by
the Black Action Movement.
At about 2:33 p.m., Harrison
and a large part of the crowd
were driven by several c l u b
weilding officers from the south
side of the building, where they
had assembledaround an Ann
Arbor police car and several of-

ficers who were arresting Ver-
onica Banks, '72.
The crowd moved slowly
backward around the corner of
the building heeding the cries
of "Walk! Walk!" The crowd,
swiped at and prodded by po-

lice, then split in two direc-
tions. Some students ran across
Thompson St. toward the Uni-
versity parking structure; oth-
ers moved across a patch of
grass and onto the concrete in
front of the west entrance to

t h e administration
Harrison, who was

building.
standing

photographed by
SARA KRULWICH

with his head turned away from
the building, was struck from
behind by a policeman weild-
ing a three-foot riot club. He
appeared to be-, struck on the
shoulder or shoulder blade.
Harrison fell face down on
the ground. The r e s t of the
crowd continued to move fur-
ther d o w n Thompson St., or
went across the street towards
the parking structure.
The officer who knocked Har-
rison down then grabbed him by
the cloth of his jacket and held
him to the ground while two
other police arrived with their
clubs in the air. At this point
my view was blocked; I couldn't
tell whether or not Harrison was
hit again.
One of the newly-arrived of-
ficers also grabbed Harrison by
the cloth of his jacket and, to-
gether with the officer w h o

struck Harrison, yanked him to
his feet. The street was now
clear of people, and Harrison,
with o n e officer holding his
wrist and another holding his
opposite shoulder, w a s pulled
and shoved across the street to
an empty squad.
Harrison was shoved against
the. squad car; his hands were
held behind his back by one
officer while another frisked
him; the third stood off to the
side.
No weapon was found in Har-
rison's possession. In fact, from
the time I observed Harrison
when the police started to
charge the crowd on the west
side of the Ad. Bldg., his hands
were empty. And until he was
knocked down by the police and
I w e n t across Thompson St.,
with the rest of the crowd, I was
never more than a few feet be-
hind T .R. Harrison.

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