By Kristofer Noceda
HAYWARD — Mark Rudd shakes hands with members of the audience before taking the podium. One of the men he meets is former FBI informant Larry Grathwohl.
"You're Grathwohl!" says Rudd, 61, of New Mexico. "You almost busted me. You should have waited."
Rudd, a leader of the 1968 Columbia University student strike that opposed the Vietnam War and a founder of the notorious Weathermen, was referring to being wanted — along with other Weathermen leaders — for conspiracy to incite riots.
Grathwohl at the time had become a member of the Weathermen — a group that strived to end war, racism and injustice by any means necessary — while working undercover for the FBI. He ended up getting an order to go ahead with arresting one of the members, promptly blowing his cover with the rest of the group.
Such stories were discussed Wednesday during Rudd's visit to Cal State East Bay in Hayward, primarily to promote his recently released memoir, "Underground: My Life With SDS and the Weathermen" (HarperCollins, $25.99).
Rudd also brought along his humor.
"I got paid $25,000 when I signed the deal for the book and another $25,000 when I turned in the manuscript," he said. "Fifteen percent went to my agent and the rest went up my nose for coke."
Rudd fielded questions for nearly two hours from about 40 people in attendance at the university library. He was met with some opposition that turned into heated exchanges.
William Mayer, publisher of PipelineNews.org — whose slogan is "The RIGHT News ... RIGHT Now" — asked how Rudd felt about being a "murderer."
Three members of the Weathermen died when a bomb they had made exploded prematurely in New York City in 1970.
"I don't consider myself a murderer in a legal sense," he said in response. "Some people did die. I don't know what to say."
But Rudd did say he was remorseful for his actions.
"Before, I didn't talk about the past because of guilt and shame," he said. "The reason I came out with this book is to tell young people to not do this and don't let your emotions get carried away. I've realized that all violence is wrong."