Fugitive ex-Weatherman radical turns himself in

January 07, 1994|By Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- A fugitive former radical who had participated in the "Days of Rage" demonstrations in Chicago in 1969 surrendered in a Chicago courtroom yesterday and was fined $500 on a single charge of mob action.

Jeffrey David Powell, a member of the Weatherman radical faction that caused disruptions in U.S. society in an underground movement against the Vietnam War, also was sentenced to 18 months of probationand was ordered to pay an additional $210 in court costs.

Mr. Powell, who has been a fugitive and living underground for the last 24 years, is believed to be the last of the wanted Weatherman members who were charged in the "Days of Rage" demonstrations in October 1969.

Circuit Court Judge Fred Suria Jr. rejected the pleas of government attorneys to sentence Mr. Powell to jail, saying that his many years of living as a fugitive, with his failure to accumulate any other criminal charges during those years, did not warrant additional jail time.

Mr. Powell's attorney, Jeffrey Haas, told the judge that Mr. Powell had never intended to injure anyone during the four days of riots in Chicago. Instead, he said, Mr. Powell's intent had been to protest the Vietnam War and the related bombing of Cambodia.

Nearly 300 persons were arrested during the Days of Rage protests, which were held in Chicago during the opening weeks of the Chicago Seven conspiracy trial and were sponsored by the radical Students for a Democratic Society.

After the watershed Days of Rage riots, a militant segment of the SDS broke off and dubbed itself the Weathermen and, later, the Weather Underground, participating in a series of violent demonstrations, bombings and other criminal activities designed to fight U.S. policy.

Mr. Powell, in his mid-40s and a native of Stow, Ohio, has reportedly been living under an assumed name in Colorado and doing environmental work.

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