The George Jackson Brigade, named after a member of the Black Panthers who was killed during an alleged escape attempt from San Quentin, were a leftist revolutionary group who operated out of Seattle, Washington during the 1970’s. They, like many other groups during the time, saw the world in ripe form for an uprising of the working class, egged on by the civil rights movements of the 50’s and 60’s, and like other revolutionary groups found the best way to reach their goals through violence rather than peaceful actions. Between March 1975 and December 1977 the group robbed banks and bombed closed to twenty buildings, most of them of governmental focus, like many other groups. However, The George Jackson Brigade were very different from most of their contemporaries, especially those in the United States, but still saw themselves as part of a global union fighting for the same cause.
Unlike the other major American revolutionary group of the 1970’s, the Weather Underground, the George Jackson Brigade were not a bunch of rich white kids who took up the revolutionary spirit. Comprised of nearly 90% working class individuals, half being women, and with 75% of all the members being ex-convicts, and with a mix of various races and sexual orientation, the group came from living in poverty and through hardships unknown to the Weather Underground. Because of this great mix of people the group had many different ideologies, ranging from Marxist-Leninists to anti-Authoritarians, but ending up fighting, mostly, against racism, and for workers and prisoners rights.
However, the George Jackson Brigade did share some things in common with the other revolutionary groups. Firstly, they took up the ideals of non-violence, in the sense that they would never kill anyone during any of their attacks, and they phoned in warnings before their bombs went off. They too, like the Baader-Meinhoff group in Germany, financed their revolution through petty theft and the large scale robbing of banks. Sadly, it would be their need to rob banks that would bring about several casualties to the George Jackson Brigade themselves, as well as police enforcement officials, during a 1976 robbery in Tukwila.
The George Jackson Brigade, as stated above, robbed seven banks and bombed close to 20 government-related building while the group was operating as a whole. After each bombing the group made they would shortly thereafter release a communiqué which described why they had bombed the certain place they did. With every bombing there was a particular reason, and it was never done if there wasn’t a specific need to.
The following is a list of the major actions carried out by the George Jackson Brigade:
- The firebombing of the office of a Seattle contractor, for working in a black area of town but refusing to hire black workers
- The bombing of Capitol Hill's Safeway on 15th and John, to show solidarity with Cesar Chavez' United Farm Workers (the only time, aside from their last bank robbery, when humans were injured)
- The bombing of The Bureau of Indian Affairs in Everett, in protest agression against the American Indian Movement
- The bombing of the the FBI office in Tacoma, again, in protest against the agression towards the American Indian Movement
- The bombing of the power station of Seattle's wealthy Laurelhurst community, to support striking Seattle City Light workers
- The bombing of Bellevue's Rainier Bank, in support to a prisoner's strike at Walla Walla