Jeffrey David Powell was a 19-year-old militant...

IN 1969,

February 21, 1994

IN 1969, Jeffrey David Powell was a 19-year-old militant student leader for the Weather Underground protesting the Vietnam War.

That October, hundreds of Weathermen took part in a violent anti-war demonstration in Chicago -- the "Days of Rage" -- in which dozens of people were injured, including a police officer Mr. Powell hit on the head with a lead pipe.

Mr. Powell was charged with assault but he was never tried. In 1970, while free on bail, he fled and went underground.

Two months ago, after 24 years on the run, Mr. Powell turned himself in. Like his contemporary of the 1960s, Katherine Power, the strain of always having to look over his shoulder proved too much. Mr. Powell's attorney told the judge his client had never intended to hurt anyone, only to protest the Vietnam War.

Although prosecutors had sought a six-month jail term, the police officer whom Mr. Powell injured made no objection to an agreement under which Mr. Powell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in exchange for a $500 fine and 18 months probation.

Mr. Powell was the last of five members of the Weatherman group wanted by authorities. The others had already surrendered.

During his years as a fugitive, he worked for social service and relief agencies on behalf of poor children. In Colorado, he even testified -- using a false name -- before state legislative committees about children and poverty. Apparently, one of Mr. Powell's motives for turning himself in was that he wanted to continue such efforts in the open. Middle age and weariness have taken some of the edge off, but Mr. Powell retains much of his '60s-style idealism.

"Though the Vietnam War and the insurrections in America's cities have ended, the scars and social injustices are still with us," he said in a statement before being sentenced. He even asked the judge to lobby the legislature to protect money earmarked for food-and-milk programs for poor women and infants.

Now that this matter has been resolved, perhaps the social scars of which Mr. Powell spoke may also begin to heal.

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