Unrepentent radical Bernardine Dohrn, a fugitive for more than...


CHICAGO -- Unrepentent radical Bernardine Dohrn, a fugitive for more than a decade, surrendered today, pleaded innocent to rioting charges and was freed on $25,000 bail.

Miss Dohrn, the leader of the violent, radical Weather Underground and once among the FBI's 'most wanted' criminals, walked into the courtroom of Chief Criminal Court Judge Richard Fitzgerald and gave up.


After pleading innocent to a variety of charges growing out of 1969 street violence in downtown Chicago, she was freed on reduced bond.

Miss Dohrn read a statement saying she remained committed to the causes for which she fought in the late 1960s, then refused to answer reporters' questions about her life as a fugitive or the reason she surrendered.

'Over 10 years ago, I along with many others went underground to oppose U.S. intervention in Vietnam, to try to support the black movement for liberation and human rights and to oppose the system built on slavery, genocide and colonialism,' she said.


'I believe in the necessity of underground work, so I am returning to the open life with a sense of loss as well as hope. I'm eager to discuss the lessons of the 60s and 70s, including my errors and wrong directions as well as our strengths and successes.'

She had been working as a waitress in New York City recently and is one of the last of the violent protest leaders of the late 1960s to surrender.

The mother of two young children born while she was in hiding, Miss Dohrn was accompanied by William Ayers, 35, her boyfriend and companion in flight.

Ayers sat with his arm around Miss Dohrn in the courtroom as they waited for the judge to call their case.

Miss Dohrn faces mob action, battery and other charges in connection with the 1969 'Days of Rage' -- a violent demonstration in and around the Chicago Loop engineered by the Weather Underground.

Bond was set in 1970 at $300,000 but Miss Dohrn's lawyer, Michael Kennedy, told Judge Fred J. Suria Jr. she would be unable to meet bond of more than $25,000 -- the figure at which the judge finally set bail.

'There are several bail criteria I would like the court to consider,' Kennedy said. 'Miss Dohrn is here voluntarily. We are not dealing with someone who was apprehended. She wants to deal with each one of these individual charges.'


Kennedy said other radicals such as Mark Rudd were freed on bonds as low as $4,000.

Jennifer Dohrn-Melendez, Miss Dohrn's sister, also was in the courtroom and said her family is happy to have Miss Dohrn back home.

'They're real glad to have our family back together again,' she said.

Miss Dohrn, 38, wore a tweed jacket, brown pants and a white turtleneck for her surrender.

The federal charges which put her on the 'most wanted' list long since have been dropped but Justice Department officials recently said they may be reinstated.

Ayers, son of the retired chairman of Commonwealth Edison Co., told newsmen outside the court that he was aware 'all along' that federal charges against him were dropped six years ago.

He said he didn't want people to think he was like 'a Japanese soldier hiding in the jungle for years after the war is over.'

Fitzgerald assigned Miss Dohrn's case to Judge Fred G. Suria and ordered her to appear in his court after she was formally booked by the sheriff's office.

Kennedy said as he entered the court that he had made no deal with new Cook County's State's Attorney Richard M. Daley.

It had been rumored for more than a week that Miss Dohrn planned to surrender and hoped to make a deal for a light sentence with Daley, whose father,the late Mayor R ichard J. Daley, was one of the prime opponents of antiwar protesters in the late 1960s.


The quiet surrender contrasted with the violence of the late 1960s, when a one-time Wisconsin Girls Stater and honor student became 'the most militant of all the Weathermen' -- an advocate of violent terrorism as a means of reforming American society.

Miss Dohrn, who holds a doctorate in law from the Univerrsity of Chicago, proclaimed herself a Communist revolutionary in 1968 and became a major force in the radical wing of the Students for a Democratic Society, which evolved into the Weather Underground. She and 11 other Weathermen were indicted on federal charges of inciting the rock-throwing, window-smashing 'Days of Rage' melee in October of 1979. Those charges were dropped in 1974 but several state charges, including aggravated battery, remained outstanding.

Tuesday, Cook County State's Attorney Richard M. Daley said no sentencing deal would be made with the aging radical until she had turned herself in.

'She must surrender first,' said Daley. 'We're not ready to make any plea bargaining deals yet. After all, these files are 12 years old and we have to see what charges are pending.'

Charges of aggravated battery, solicitation to commit mob action, resisting arrest and mob action remain outstanding against Miss Dohrn in connection with the October 1969 'Days of Rage' riots in Chicago.


Daley said he had no clue to Miss Dohrn's whereabouts. She has been in hiding for the past decade.

Kennedy spoke by telephone Monday with Chief Deputy State's Attorney William J. Kunkle, Daley said. Kunkle and First Assistant State's Attorney Richard A. Devine have been instructed to prepare a memo outlining the charges remaining against Miss Dohrn and see what witnesses are available to testify if trials are held.

'We have not made any arrangements with anyone or set up anything,' said Devine. 'It'

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