Questions about grant, ‘ties to violent radicals’ – Chicago Sun

Staff Reporter/

May 8, 2012 1:04AM

Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers walk hand-in-hand through Union Park before a march to Federal Plaza in commemoration of May Day Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Updated: May 8, 2012 2:13AM

The U.S. Justice Department is drawing criticism from a conservative magazine after the federal agency reportedly gave $400,000 in grants to an organization that lists a Northwestern University professor and former Weather Underground activist as a board member.

Robert VerBruggen, a deputy managing editor of National Review, questions (in a piece posted online Monday) why the Justice Department would donate to an organization with board member Bernardine Dohrn who was once one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

The magazine reports that the Justice Department gave the money to the W. Haywood Burns Institute in two separate amounts between 2010 and 2011. The money was intended to help fund the San Francisco-based institute’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative, which aims to reduce racial disparities in the juvenile justice system.

VerBruggen said he is not opposed to the institute’s goal of keeping youth out of prison.

“If that’s true, it’s good,” VerBruggen wrote. “But there are plenty of charities that do good work without including Weather Underground co-founders on their boards of directors and openly praising prison rioters on their websites. Presidential administrations have considerable discretion when it comes to federal grants. But it is not too much to ask that the Justice Department avoid giving money to groups with ties to violent radicals.”

Dohrn, who is married to fellow former 1960s radical Bill Ayers, is listed on the Institute’s website as one of the organization’s board of directors.

Dohrn, who could not be reached for comment Monday, is also an associate professor of law at Northwestern.

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