The initial phase of WUO activity began in the wake of the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, and the wave of student unrest which swept the Western world in that same year. It was the opinion of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and others that the Vietnamese had proven that the “Capitalist Imperialist Pigs” could be defeated. Key organisers of the SDS said as much at their rallies, and formed a notion of the third world strugging against US hegemony that is curiously similar to Islamist rhetoric from the present day.
As was the practice at that time, the SDS set out a manifesto, written by some of its members, including Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, that included a demand for armed struggle within the United States, and the phrase “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind blows”, that was taken from Bob Dylan lyric, and became the nomme de guerre for those who ascribed to the policies of that manifesto.
Members traveled to Cuba, where they met representatives of the North Vietnamese government, and a colonel of the KGB, who trained them in techniques of political subversion and urban terrorism. The Cubans appear to have been concerned that if the United States were able to successfully prosecute its war in Vietnam it would come for them next. Thus the Cubans found it expedient to train terrorists and send them to the US, as a means of forestalling this eventuality.
Following this, the WUO set about plans to engage in what amounted to a riot in the streets of Chicago, called the ‘Days of Rage’. Taking place in 1969, the Days of Rage were acts of violence using bats, fists, and even teeth against police and ‘pigs’, a term meaning targets of authority, rich stores, and so on. A particular focus was police cars, many of which were smashed. The intention of such operations, according to group literature and general communist dogma, was to shatter the public’s faith in the control capabilities of the government.