George Jackson Brigade

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George Jackson Brigade
Participant in Black Power movement
Area of operationsSeattle, Washington
AlliesBlack Panther Party
Opponent(s)United States

The George Jackson Brigade, was a revolutionary group based in Seattle, Washington, which was named after George Jackson, a dissident prisoner and Black Panther member shot and killed during an alleged escape attempt at San Quentin Prison in 1971.

The members included two ex-cons: Ed Mead and John Sherman, and prison-rights activists: Bruce Seidel, Rita "Bo" Brown, and Therese Coupez. They were later joined by Mark Cook, who was the only African American in the group. They were involved in violent acts and claimed to use force to overthrow the United States Government or the government of the State of Washington. The group justified their actions by claiming to further the ends of a revolution of the masses to overthrow the present governmental and international business structures and to establish a system of communism. In various communiqués,[1] the group claimed credit for bank robberies, bombings, attacks against custom houses, court houses, Safeway stores, public utilities and correction facilities.

From March 1975 to December 1977, the Seattle Brigade robbed at least seven banks and detonated about 20 pipe bombs—mainly targeting government buildings, electric power facilities, Safeway stores, and companies accused of racism.

On January 23, 1976, the Tukwila branch of the Pacific National Bank was robbed by several armed men including Mead, Sherman, Siedel, and Cook. Mead was captured, Sherman was wounded in the jaw, and Seidel was killed. Cook fled in a car. Six weeks later, Cook freed Sherman after shooting his police escort(King County Sheriff Officer Virgil Johnson) as they walked out of Harborview Medical Center, but Cook was captured the following day. Sherman remained free for two years before his recapture.


In 1974 Ed Mead traveled to San Francisco, just a few years after his release from prison for a pharmacy burglary, hoping to connect with the Symbionese Liberation Army[2] however when he arrived it was another group he joined with. The group he joined was the New World Liberation Front or NWLF, it was from this group that Ed Mead learned to make pipe bombs. Upon arriving back home in Seattle he met with his friend Bruce Seidel and it was at this meeting that they decided to take up arms for their political beliefs. The two decided to deliver on the former Black Panther lieutenant George Jackson’s promise and thus the name George Jackson Brigade. In the George Jackson Brigade there were a mixture of Communist and Anarchist ideologies. In its operations, it also tried to avoid killing or injuring civilians at all costs. Mead was released in 1993 after serving 18 years in state and federal institutions. Sherman, who later escaped—again—from a federal prison in California, was released in 1998. Brown, Coupez, and Janine Bertram, are all free after serving four- to eight-year sentences. Mark Cook remained in prison for 24 years, until 2000.

Their first attack was the bombing of the department of corrections building in Olympia, Washington. Their second attack was also their first failure as a group, the target was the Safeway on Capitol Hill the group snuck a pipe bomb hidden in a 50-pound bag of dog food and left it in the store. Ed Mead then called the Safeway store and informed them there was a bomb however, he claimed he was blown off as a prank while the Seattle press reported he called the wrong number. Civilians were injured and the George Jackson Brigade received a lot of bad press for the attack. The George Jackson Brigade wanted to redistribute wealth as well as overthrow the government and make the "ruling class" pay for keeping them from being successful. The main goal of the George Jackson Brigade was to replace the Capitalist government with a more humane government. The George Jackson Brigade stated that any revolution that occurs the ruling class would meet with violence so they must be prepared to use violence themselves. After each attack the carried out, successful or unsuccessful they would send a communique explaining why each place had been attacked. They also used these communiques as a way to communicate with authorities.[2][1]


The downfall of the George Jackson Brigade started in January 23 1976 when they attempted to rob a bank in Tukwila, Washington. Two police officers and one member of the George Jackson Brigade, Bruce Seidel, were killed along with John Sherman and Ed Mead being arrested with John Sherman also being wounded. Then on March 10 of the same year Mark Cook rescued John Sherman from police custody however he shot a police officer in the stomach in the process they both escaped but Cook was captured a few days later and spent the next 25 years in prison. The remaining members retreated to regroup and came back in the Fall of 1977 however in September 1977 Brown was arrested while casing a bank. Then on March 21 of 1978 Sherman, Coupez, and Brown's now new girlfriend Bertram were arrested in a Tacoma restaurant right before executing another robbery.

According to a report published by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism for the United States Department of Homeland Security's DHS Science and Technology Directorate, the George Jackson Brigade was ranked fifteenth among terrorist groups that perpetrated the most terrorist attacks in the United States between 1970 and 2011.[3]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Retrieved 6 May 2017. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ a b Hauser, S (2011). Guerrilla USA: The George Jackson Brigade and the anticapitalist underground of the 1970s (1 ed.). Online: Choice. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ LaFree, Gary; Dugan, Laura; Miller, Erin (December 2012). "Integrated United States Security Database (IUSSD): Data on the Terrorist Attacks in the United States Homeland, 1970 to 2011; Final Report to the Resilient Systems Division, DHS Science and Technology Directorate, U.S. Department of Homeland Security" (PDF). College Park, Maryland: National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism: 25. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  • Guerrilla USA: The George Jackson Brigade and the Anticapitalist Underground of the 1970s, Burton-Rose, Daniel. University of California Press, 2010.
  • Creating a Movement with Teeth: A Documentary History of the George Jackson Brigade, Burton-Rose, Daniel. PM Press, 2010.