The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was a social-utopian guerilla group in the US, a terrorist organization that emerged as a result of the political unrest of the 1960s and carried out attacks, bank robberies and abductions in the 1970s.The ideology of the SLA was strongly leftist and mixed influences of socialism, socialism, Maoism and the Robin Hood story.The SLA was founded by white, leftist activists in San Francisco in 1971 and led by the black activist Donald DeFreeze since '72. The group had other members such as William Wolfe and the Harris couple, as well as many such groups at that time, an extended sympathy surrounding, which helped them logistically and motivationally.The logo of the SLA was a seven-headed Cobra, which should embody the seven principles of Kwanzaa.Famous was the Symbionese Liberation Army especially by the abduction of Patricia "Patty" Hearst, a rich publisher of the Hearst clan. After a while, Patty Hearst even joined the group, which led to speculation whether she was either genuinely self-radical or was brainwashed after the kidnapping.
The founding of the groupThe group was formed from programs on prison visits in the late 1960s against the backdrop of internal unrest in the country and the ideas of the New Left. Active groups were, for example, Venceremos and the Black Cultural Association. In the Soledad prison, the group was amalgamated. A decisive role in the formation of the group, however, also played joint cinema visits of socially critical films.There were at that time, in the radical milieu, various ideas of an armed struggle against real or perceived injustices. The Kuban revolution, the Tupamaro city guerilla in Uruguay, and the ideas and deeds of Mao Tse-tung served as role models.The group formed believed that many, if not all, black prisoners who were disproportionately sitting in US prisons were political prisoners. To counteract this, a coalition of left-wing students and prisoners was to be established.Early activists of the group were Patricia Michelle "Mizmoon" Soltysik and Willie Lawton "Kahjoh / Cujo" Wolfe, Russell Little and Robyn Sue Steiner, Nancy Lingperry, Joe Remiro, Angela Atwood, Gary Atwood, Thero Wheeler, Camilla Hall and Mary Alice Siem.The breakthrough for the formation of the group, however, was the flight of Donald De Freeze, a black prisoner of Soledad State Prison, who was imprisoned for robbing a prostitute. Originally, De Freeze was not a radical, but a regular working citizen, but he felt financially excluded from the wealthy society and then pursued criminal business. His flight was on March 5, 1973. Freeze called himself "(General Field Marshal) Cinque" after the leader of a slaves revolt in the 19th century. De Freeze was possibly around 1967 until 1969 a police officer.DeFreeze had already been able to make contact with the Black Cultural Association (member) and then Venceremos through his stay at the California Medical Facility (Vacaville). Now he sought refuge in a San Francisco Bay Area, known as the "Peking House." He first lived with Willie Wolfe and Russel Little, then moved to Patricia Michelle Soltysik. Both became a couple and set about planning a "Symbionese Nation".This phase lasted from the escape of Freeze in March to the late summer of 1973. An early shelter was a house in Concord (in the Contra Costa County) in the Bay Area. For non-local people, the Bay Area is a huge metropolitan area around San Francisco Bay with cities like San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. This region is not only economically strong, but also contains some refugees for sociocultural avant-garde.First actions: The murder of Marcus FosterWith one of her first actions, the newly founded group lost the same political capital.On 6 November 1973, two members of the SLA replaced the school officials Marcus Foster (a black man) and wounded his deputy Robert Blackburn hard. The milled balls were prepared with a cyanide compound.The main allegation of the SLA was that Marcus Foster wanted to introduce modern school passes in the schools of Oakland. He was therefore considered a "fascist".In fact, Foster had even been skeptical about new evisceration techniques and had opted for a moderate solution. From a later point of view, such concerns appear ridiculous anyway.So the SLA was already shooting in its own leg.For a long time it was unclear who committed the murder of Foster.
On 10 January 1974, Joseph Remiro and Russell Little were arrested and charged with the murder of Marcus Foster. Both of them were unlucky or lucky enough to be in a traffic control with "hot material". Fortunately, in that they were thus preserved before the following events.First, both men were also sentenced and each received a lifetime imprisonment. In June 1981, however, Little's sentence was lifted by the California Court of Appeal, and later he was released in a re-entry trial in Monterey County. On the other hand, Joseph Remiro was imprisoned with his life imprisonment in the state prison of San Quentin.According to Little, "Mizmoon" Soltysik at Foster has triggered the trigger, in the badly injured Blackburn DeFreeze took over, after Nancy Ling Perry the nerves failed.The abduction of Patty HearstThe SLA was internationally known on February 4, 1974, by the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, the then 19-year-old Enkeltochter of the publisher William Randolph Hearst and daughter of the billionaire Randolph Apperson Hearst. Hearst was abducted at her university and it soon became clear that she had been spied in the run-up by left-wing fellow students and university staff. Emily Harris probably played an important role.Together with their kidnapping, an aid program of $ 6 million to feed hungry populations in the US should be enforced. In captivity, however, Patty Hearst made a change. She was initially imprisoned, then beloved of a group member, and finally a member of the grouping and participated in raids (eg Hibernia Bank).To this day, it is unclear whether it was a conviction because of a direct threat, a victim of Stockholm syndrome, or whether the kidnapping was even feigned.The other side in the later court process even commissioned detectives to investigate Hearst's past life and wanted to find information about tensions with the parental home and contacts with radical activists.
Money procurement, relocation and encirclementHowever, the abduction of the famous publishing houses remained not the only action in this phase of the group. With Hearst the SLA even ran to a regular "high performance".On the morning of April 15, 1974, the group, including Hearst, overcame the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. The action was shot at two people. The group captured $ 10,000. Famous were the recordings of a surveillance camera, showing how Hearst participated in the attack.To this day, he is excited about how "voluntary" Hearst's involvement in this attack was. In interviews and in her autobiography she herself gave an internal support to the group. The opposite side, however, pointed out their decided appearance during the attack. In addition, SLA members later declared that they could easily escape the road along the road before the attack.But the group faced a "structural problem". It was located in the San Francisco Bay Area, where there were quite a few political activists who were close to the views of the SLA. But by the assassination of Marcus Foster, the group lost much sympathy.That is why they decided to transfer the conspiratorial base from San Francisco to Los Angeles, to an area that Donald DeFreeze already knew from before.This relocation, which had good reasons as stated, also led to important disadvantages. Los Angeles was not so good, and the recruitment of sympathizers was by no means better.The authorities succeeded in pushing the group more and more into the defensive and stepping up their hiding places more and more. In May, the hiding place where the leaders of the group were located were found.The group's failure was a purchase from William "Teko" and Emily "Yolanda" Harris at the Mel's Sporting Goods Store in Inglewood, May 16, Teko came up with the bad idea of stealing something from shopping. This caused him to be caught and a security man could hand him a handcuff. By the intervention of the waiting in a bus waiting for Patty Hearst, the warning shots, the two could flee however. But the bus was recognized and searched for. A short time later, the bus got even a penalty, after which the group knew they had to react. However, when retreating to a new conspiratorial hiding place, there were riots with the residents, so an anonymous informant (probably the family environment of the house owner) informed the police. This reacted immediately.
Showdown in May 1974The LAPD moved on 17 May 1974 under the command of Cpt. Mervin King with several hundred men regular police, SWAT, FBI, Highway Patrol and Fire Department to move around the house 1466 East 54th Street and then storm. The changeover and the attack, however, were quite futile: after an loudspeaker announcement, an old man and a boy came out of the house. The old man claimed that both of them were alone in the house, but the boy chattered the truth. This made the situation clear to the police. Long negotiations had not been planned.The fight was opened with the firing of tear gas grenades. This resulted in a large-scale wild shooting between the SLA and the police. After about 2 hours the house began to catch fire (by tear gas grenades?). Thereupon, three women left the house, one of them drunk, who later found out that they were not SLA members. The drunk wanted to be sober in the house. But then two other women came out of the house, both of whom were hit by bullets. In subsequent investigations, it was unclear whether they had been clear or still armed. The wild shooting went on for hours.The spectacle of this assault was further enhanced by the fact that it was accompanied by a nearly close-to-the-skin coverage of press, radio and television journalists. For the time, the first half of the seventies, this was still quite unusual. It was only a few years later that it became a matter of time to pursue fleeing perpetrators with press helicopters.The results of the shooting were fatal: The group's chief, Donald DeFreeze and five other members of the SLA were killed.In addition to the two women who left the house and were shot, many SLA members died through gunshots or fire. Many burned in a shack under the house. Donald DeFreeze may have committed suicide. The police had no fatal losses to complain about.The dead of the SLA were: Nancy Lingperry ("Fahizah"), Angela Atwood ("General Gelina"), Camilla Hall ("Gabi"), Willie Wolfe ("Kahjoh" or "Cujo"), Donald DeFreeze ("Cinque ") And Patricia Soltysik (" Mizmoon, "" Zoya ").From investigative reports, several thousand shots were fired from both sides. The police alone shot over 9,000 shots.The complete destruction of the group did not mean that yet. Patty Hearst was not in the surrounded house and there were many more members in retreats ready to fight. Some even pushed it. However, to this day, we are not quite sure about the identity of all members. The successor to Donald DeFreeze was William Harris, named Teko.
Enduring and final destruction of the groupThe hard-hit group decided to return to the San Francisco Bay Area under their new leader, William "Teko" Harris. Emily Harris was involved in the organization.There she could still hold until 1975. As a result of the brutal police action, the group even won new members: Wendy Yoshimura, Kathleen Soliah (later Sara Jane Olson), James Kilgore and Michael Bortin.At that time, the bank robbery fell to the Crocker National Bank in Carmichael (CA) at the end of April 1975, when a customer of the bank, Myrna Opsahl, died. The death guard remained unclear. With modern methods of investigation, however, the participants masked during the attack were identified after many years.On 18 September 1975, Patty Hearst was arrested and brought to justice alongside other SLA members, including her close friend Wendy Yoshimura. An activist, James Kilgore, could descend and escape to Africa. With some activists you are not sure if they belonged to the SLA or not. Patty Hearst's biography of 1982 gives some hints in this direction. In some cases, new indications were gained only after years.Legal reviewAs a result of the arrest of important SLA members and the breaking up of the group, several important processes took place. The most spectacular one, however, was against the "turned" Patty Hearst.The court did not acknowledge Patty Hearst's forbearance, and sentenced her to a prison sentence of 35 years in 1976! She was involved in several acts of the SLA including the attack on Hibernia Bank. This was initially a shock to the woman involved and her parents. In the course of time, however, the punishment was increasingly weakened. In an appeal process, the sentence was reduced to seven years. Then Patty Hearst was pardoned by US President Jimmy Carter after only 21 months and released from the California federal prison near San Francisco on February 1, More than 20 years later, in 2001, she even received a "Presidential Pardon" from President Bill Clinton. Critics, on the other hand, criticized Clinton's overly soft attitude, which had once been far left, against the radicals of the 1960s and 1970s, and on the other, the obvious successful influence of Hearst's rich father.As previously mentioned, Joseph Remiro and Russel Little had already been charged with and convicted of the murder of Marcus Foster. The judgment against Little, however, was repealed in 1981. Remiro was still in prison. Other possible participants were burnt up in the mass shooting in May 1974.In addition to the Foster murder and the '74-day attack on the Hibernia Bank, the' 75s attack on the Crocker National Bank made the investigators curious. For here it was not just about an armed bank robbery, but also - as in the case of Marcus Foster - for murder: Myrna Opsahl was shot in action, even if possibly unintentionally. The perpetrators were difficult to identify because of their masking.The legal reworking of the SLA deeds lasted altogether well into the 2000s. One reason for this was the fact that only slowly new results were obtained, as well as in the field of criminal technology, which has made considerable progress over the years.In 2003, the SLA had been forced to commit suicide because of second-degree murder. It was about William Harris, Emily Harris / Montague, Michael Bortin and Sara Jane Olson (formerly Kathleen Ann Soliah). The judge sentenced the accused to 6 to 8 years. Thus, another chapter of left-wing Marxist-Leninist-Maoist guerrillas from the time of Neuer Linker and Gegenkultur was completed. And this at a time when the war against (Islamic) terror was taking place and then escalated.It is also interesting that one of the group's volatile activists, James Kilgore, who had been working since 1975, had gone to Africa and had worked there with the help of violence in aid projects. Kilgore has even published under a false name (John Pape). In 2002, however, he was arrested in South Africa, handed over to the US and sentenced to several years' imprisonment. In 2009, James Kilgore was released.Only Joseph Remiro remained in custody (because of murder).Some minor penalties against SLA members are not listed here.
Philosophical evaluation of actionsFrom today's point of view, the motivation of former leftist and utopian activists seems incomprehensible and confused. Nevertheless, there were not a few such groups in the United States alone.Think of the Weathermen (Weather Underground), the Black Panther Party, the Manson Family, the Lyman Family and many other groups. But the link terrorism of this time was not a pure US phenomenon, but an international phenomenon. He appeared at least in Europe, North America and Asia. Here he was particularly strong in Japan and parts of India. Some Japanese left-wing terrorists even survived the longest.But even though many of these groups also relied on Mao and his cultural revolution, their ideas in many socialist countries had only a weak standing.In the 1960s, a new generation had grown up, who had no longer or no longer consciously experienced the Second World War. This generation grew in relative economic prosperity, which was often reproached, but it still had a generation of parents who had gone through hard times and had grown up with the old values. In some countries - such as Germany, Italy, Japan and their allies - this generation also supported dictatorships. In the US, however, it was mainly a question of the meaningfulness of the Vietnam War. It was also about general antiautoritarianism, an endangering of poverty and racial discrimination and an attitude towards a new emerging pop culture.These battles, which had already been carried out in the 1960s, escalated into the radicalism of the Left, with the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. It was simply no longer believed that the old system could be reformed.In this milieu even strange revolutionary fantasies developed, which were always more and more strange. For example, it was thought to combine the guerrilla warfare in the country with a potential invasion of the Soviet Union or North China. In doing so, several million dead were taken into account. In some parts of the world, such as Cuba or African countries, a "red revolution" had been successful, and so they wanted to do it in the centers (center - periphery).Former SLA fighters also said openly that there was a revolutionary optimism, after it was thought to conquer the entire Southwest of the USA in 1975, and then, in 1976, the interior of America.Comparing these performances only with the "Förster-Fraktion" within the RAF: this wanted to build a liberated Soviet republic in the middle of the Black Forest!In practice, however, many of these ideas were already eroding in the 1970s, although some groups continued to struggle until the fall of the Soviet Union or even until the end of the 1990s. From the perspective of right-wing critics, such tendencies only weakened the countries concerned and have made other countries and cultures, like the Islamic ones, able to expand their power and whose internal structure is much less progressive than that of WASP America. However, it should not be forgotten that the official Great Britain and the USA also strengthened radical-religious groups in order to weaken other opponents with realpolitical methods, so that left-wing rebels under their own fell with V-men to motivate them to tougher actions Of the total population.
SOURCES AND LITERATUREWikipediaVarious reference works from paper
Die Chronik des 20. Jahrhunderts
-Hearst, Patty / Alvin Moscow: Every Secret Thing; 1982(Patty Hearst: Her Own Story)Krassner, Paul: The Parts Left out of the Patty Hearst TrialLaqueur, Walter: Terrorismus. Die globale Herausforderung; 1987-Neverland: The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army; 2004 (film)Guerilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst (film)(Www.pbs.org)