Legacy of Symbionese Liberation Army

In FEBRUARY 1974, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, led by Donald "Cinque" DeFreeze. One of its demands was a free-food program. Patty's father, Randolph Hearst, publisher of the San Francisco Examiner arranged for such a project. Gov. Ronald Reagan commented on the long line of people waiting for free food, saying he hoped they'd all get botulism. Patty was kept in a closet, became a member of the SLA, changed her name to Tania, adopted radical rhetoric, robbed a bank, and went on the lam, becoming a vehicle for repressive action on the right and wishful thinking on the left.


She was captured in San Francisco after 18 months. She was so surprised that she peed in her pants, but that was only reported in the Chronicle, not the Examiner... She was permitted to change in the bathroom. The FBI inventory of her possessions did not include "pants, wet, one pair," but there was on the FBI list a two-foot marijuana plant (as compared with almost a pound of pot not reported that the FBI found at the apartment from which she had been kidnapped). There was also a bottle of Gallo wine in the SLA safe house, not exactly a loyal gesture to the United Farm Workers it purported to support. And there was an unidentified "rock" found in Patty's purse.


Originally she was to be defended by Vincent Hallinan and his son, Terence, who visited her in jail. As Tania she had called Vincent a "clown" in a taped communique--now as Patty she said of Terence, "He's good. Like, I really trust him politically and personally, and I can tell him just about anything I want and he's cool." It was, however, a relationship that would not be permitted to mature.

Read Full Article »

Show comments Hide Comments

Related Articles