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Symbionese Liberation Army

From dKosopedia

Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) - US, 1973-75. A group that went on a spectacular crime spree in California in the early 1970s, culminating in the infamous kidnapping of Patty Hearst in February 1974. The SLA was a collection of alienated Berkeley radicals who had links to the California prison movement and strove to emulate the Black Panthers. However, the SLA members had little real experience in organizing or with the Black community, and believed that after Richard Nixon was elected president, that the US was a hopeless society that needed violent change.

The SLA came on the scene in late 1973 with the assassination of Oakland Superintendent of Schools Marcus Foster. Foster was a popular leader and met even with the Panthers' approval, and was the first Black to lead Oakland's schools. The Foster murder led to a total ostracization of the SLA from other Bay Area radical groups, and they hoped to rectify this by the kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst. After Hearst was abducted, the SLA made a series of demands on the Hearst family, including the giveaway of food in impoverished areas of Oakland. However, the SLA had no real plan what to do with Hearst. So they got lucky when, under duress, she converted to the SLA philosophy and became known as Tania.

In April 1974 the SLA robbed a bank in San Francisco, and Tania participated, carrying a machine gun into the bank. Patty Hearst immediately went from beloved victim to despised enemy, a symbol in many minds of the apostasy of the baby boom generation. Six members of the SLA were killed in a hideout in South Los Angeles in May 1974, including the group's leader, Cinque, but Patty/Tania was not with this group. For the next two years she and other members, including Kathleen Soliah (now Sara Jane Olson) and James Kilgore, continued to hide out in the underground, until Patty/Tania's capture in 1975 brought the group to an end. Patty Hearst was tried and convicted in 1976 of bank robbery in a controversial trial, where a jury made up of older San Franciscans used Hearst as a stand-in for the more general upheavals of the '60s and '70s. At the time many discounted her story of brainwashing, but this has been more widely accepted in recent years. Hearst's sentence was commuted by Jimmy Carter in 1977 and she received a full pardon from Bill Clinton in 2001. Soliah and Kilgore began new lives, and were outed as SLA members only in the late 1990s. The trials of Soliah/Olson and Kilgore took place after 2001, in an atmosphere newly harsh of terrorism.

SLA Members

See Also

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This page was last modified 14:16, 12 June 2006 by Chad Lupkes. Based on work by dKosopedia user(s) Eugene and JohnLocke. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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