George Jackson Brigade

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George Jackson Brigade
Participant in Black Power movement
Active1975-1977
IdeologyCommunism
Area of operationsSeattle, Washington
Size6
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.[1] [2][3]

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. They were trying to initiate a leftist movement. The reason the group was committing most of their crimes so that they could draw attention to conditions for prisoners at Walla Walla State penitentiary and an old federal prison on McNeil Island, In various communiqués,[4] 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 banks as a way to fund themselves and detonated about 20 pipe bombs—mainly targeting government buildings, electric power facilities, Safeway stores, and companies accused of racism. The group was clear that they wanted to avoid casualties at all cost but they used bombings as a way to provoke terror in the government in order to make a change (they hoped).

History[edit]

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[5] 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 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.[5][4]

Members[edit]

The members included:

John Sherman and Ed Mead

- Sherman was from New Jersey and Mead was from California, the two met while in federal prison at McNeil Island in the late 1960s.

Bruce Seidel

- Good friend of Mead and graduate student in economics at University of Illinois.

Mark Cook

- Organizer of the annual CONvention conference of prison activists.
- Only African American, last to join.
- Took part in a robbery and got away and was able to bust Sherman out of Harborview Hospital where he wounded a King County Deputy.

Rita Brown

-Working class ex-convict from Southern Oregon active in the Seattle prisoner support community.

Therese Coupez

-Rita Browns girlfriend from local area.

Actions[edit]

Date Location Area Notes
Robberies done by the group
23 January 1976 Pacific National Bank Tukwila, Washington Attempted Robbery, Shootout done by Mead, Sherman, Siedel, and Cook
Mead was captured, Sherman was wounded in the jaw, Seidel was killed, and Cook was able to flee in a car
8 June 1976 Western Bank Coos Bay, Oregon
13 July 1976 Carter National Bank Ashland, Oregon
1 August 1976 The Oregon Bank Medford, Oregon
28 October 1976 First State Bank of Oregon Portland, Oregon
4 January 1977 U.S. National Bank of Oregon Portland, Oregon
7 February 1977 U.S. National Bank of Oregon Wilsonville, Oregon
21 May 1977 Washington State Liquor Store Bellevue, Washington
20 June 1977 Rainer National Bank Bellevue, Washington
8 September 1977 Old National Bank Kirkland, Washington
19 September 1977 Peoples National Bank Seattle, Washington Skyway Branch
Attacks done by the group
31 May 1975 Washington State Corrections Office Olympia, Washington
11 June 1975 University of Washington
5 September 1975 FBI offices Tacoma, Washington
6 September 1975 Bureau of Indian Affairs Office Everett, Washington
13 September 1975 Federal Office Building Seattle, Washington
15 September 1975 Safeway Store Seattle, Washington Had a death
18 September 1975 Safeway Store Seattle, Washington
31 December 1975 Safeway Office building Bellevue, Washington
31 December 1975 City light substation Bellevue, Washington
12 May 1977 Ranier National Bank Redmond, Washington
12 May 1977 Ranier National Bank Bellevue, Washington attempted
3 July 1977 Puget Power substation Olympia, Washington attempted
6 October 1977 Westlund Buick Seattle, Washington attempted
13 October 1977 S. L. Savidge Dodge Seattle, Washington
16 October 1977 B.B.C Dodge Burien, Washington
1 November 1977 Phil Smart Mercedes Bellevue, Washington
2 November 1977 Diebold, INC. Seattle, Washington
23 December 1977 Power Substation Renton, Washington

Six weeks after the January 23, 1976 robbery of the Pacific National Bank was robbed in Tukwila, 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.

Downfall[edit]

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. Sherman and Cook 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.[6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ "'Days of Rage' scorns George Jackson Brigade, but Northwest radical group won't be ignored - oregonlive.com". OregonLive.com.
  2. ^ "Creating a Movement With Teeth a Document History of The George Jackson Brigade".
  3. ^ Banel, Feliks. "George Jackson Brigade terrorized the Northwest in the 1970s". mynorthwest.com.
  4. ^ a b "FBI ― George Jackson Brigade". vault.FBI.gov. FBI.gov. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b Hauser, S (2011). Guerrilla USA: The George Jackson Brigade and the anticapitalist underground of the 1970s (1 ed.). Online: Choice.
  6. ^ 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.
  • https://vault.fbi.gov/George%20Jackson%20Brigade%20