October 22, 1970: Bombing in San Francisco

Terrorists tossed a bomb at a church holding the funeral of a police officer in San Francisco in October 1970.

Terrorists tossed a bomb at a church holding the funeral of a police officer in San Francisco in October 1970.

SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES – You don’t right historic wrongs by making more wrongs.

The Trump presidency sure has been interesting, hasn’t it? Whether it is the near infinite lies, reversals and downright bizarre statements (see Shannon Gormley’s piece in Macleans for a comprehensive list!), it would be entertaining if it were not sad.

One of the more contentious things – and that IS saying something – has been the debate over what constitutes a terrorist group and what doesn’t. The US already has a huge problem in its insistence in differentiating ‘domestic’ from ‘foreign’ terrorists (listen to the Borealis podcast on why this is unhelpful) and political posturing is not making things any better.

When a president cannot label the Proud Boys a terrorist group, as he refused to do during the first debate with Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, we are in trouble. But what do we expect when he called a bunch of yahoos, one of whom ran over and killed a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017 at a ‘Unite the Right’ rally, ‘fine people’?

Instead Trump seems to want to call Antifa a terrorist organisation despite the niggling fact that it is not an organisation (even if there have been acts of violence on the margins of its activities). The same goes for Black Lives Matter (BLM).

I do not think that anyone who seriously looks at terrorism would label BLM a terrorist movement. But that is not to say that there have not been real terrorist groups tied to black issues. Today’s featured attack provides a very good example.

On this day in 1970 an antipersonnel time bomb was tossed at mourners at a San Francisco church attending the funeral of a police officer who died in a bank robbery. No one died and no one was injured despite the spewing of shrapnel after the device exploded. The Black Liberation Army (BLA), an underground, black nationalist militant organization that was active from 1970 to 1981 and composed largely of former Black Panthers, was believed to have been behind the blast. 

Mayor Joseph L. Alioto linked the explosion to what he described as a “psychotic crew” of terrorists

The New York Times, October 23, 1970

There is no question that the US has a lot to answer for when it comes to its treatment of black Americans over the centuries. I do find it hard to understand, however, what contribution a bomb at a funeral makes?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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