Remembering the Symbionese Liberation Army

Patty “TANIA” Hearst in still shot of a video depicting her holding a semi automatic weapon in the course of a bank robbery in 1974.

I’m sixty four years old as I write this today, Saturday November 24, 2018. In 1974, the year that Patty Hearst was “kidnapped” I was twenty years old. Back then I was in the throes of my heroin addiction and was going in and out of jails. In fact, I had just come home after serving 23 months in the so-called Rockefeller program. I was in a prison in the city of Buffalo called Masten Park that was classified as one of the drug facilities of the so-called Rockefeller program. The only diffierence between Prison and the Rockefeller program is the jurisdiction of the agency superiving it. Prison’s and city jails are under the perview of the Department of Corrections. The so-called Rockefeller Program was under the perview of the Narcotics Addiction Control Commission.

In 1974 I remember the breaking news of Patricia Hearst, the granddaughter of one of America’s wealthest men, media magnet William Randolph Hearst, being kidnapped by a hereto unknown revolutionary group called the SLA, the Symbionese Liberation Army. One has to remember that the 1960’s and 1970’s were the years that America changed forever. That period is the era of social revolution. From the uptight crew cut boys and bobby socker girls, to the long haired men and outspoken women. It was the era in which John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King jr. were assasinated.

In the 1960’s the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was the figure head of the Civil Rights Movement and their ideology of peaceful or non-violent resistence. In the 1970’s the climate was much more radical. Stokie Carmicheal, Huey P. Newton and Angela Davis formed the Black Panther Party and began taking a more aggressive stance when J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI began killing young black for organizing the community for self determination; Cesar Chavez following the non violent philosophy of King organized the farm workers, on the East Coast the Puerto Rican Young Lords Party were orgaininzing around health care and the deplorable housing Puerto Ricans were religated to, white College students were protesting the Viet Nam war; women were burning their bra’s and the police departments across the country were bashing in heads.

Patricia "Patty" Hearst Symbionese Liberation Army
Patty Hearst Member of the Symbionese Liberation Army

After Patty Hearst was a “kidnap” victim for about 73 days she broadcast to the world that she is not a kidnap victim but is in fact a voluntary members of the SLA, whose name is Tania. Shortly thereafter in a video taped bank robbery Patty “Tania” Hearst is seen carrying an automatic weapon during the robbery. She is seen looking at her watch as she keeps the time for the team robbing the bank.

Weeks later in a sporting goods store foiled shopping spree, Patty, who had been sitting in the car as the get away driver picked up her weapon and began shooting at the store clerks that had tried to detain William Harris as he excited the store.
It was almost two years later that the surviving members of the SLA were arrested. In the newsreels one can see Patty Hearst handcuffed and sitting in the back of the police car raise her arms in what is commonly known as the revolutionary salute. That is arms out stretched and her hand balled into a fist.

“Stockholm syndrome is a condition that causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors as a survival strategy during captivity”.</span.

I remember how I was upset because certain segments of the population and some of the media began floating the idea that Patty Hearst was a victim of “Stockholm Syndrom”. Why was I upset? Because it was her attorney who at the time was the most well known, successful criminal attorney in the United States F. Lee Bailey that was postulating it as a defense strategy. I knew, because history continues to prove it, that since she is white, female and rich she will get away with. I was upset, and as I write this get upset again, because I was suffering from a disease*, the disease of addiction and I stole to get money to buy drugs. I was a petty thief because I was hooked on drugs. I was in and out of jails and had just completed 23 months. I did not hold a weapon to anyone, I did not physically hurt anyone. I broke into a closed store and store. Yet I have a criminal record and served time.

Patty Hearst, a rich white girl, caught on video tape in a bank robbery, heard on tape admiting to being a voluntary participant in many of the crimes committed by the SLA, including one bank robbery in which one woman was shot dead. Turns on her “comrades” and accuses some of them of rape. Despite her lawyers getting several wins, namely seperating her from the murder charge, Patty gets sentenced to seven years. In 1976 me, a petty crook, drug addict gets sentenced to the same length of time.

But the story does not end here. In the end white priviladge and wealth do prevail. Petty Hearst’s conviction has been commuted. She had been out on bail during the appeals process so in essence out of all the time she was originally sentenced to she may have spent six months in jail. Then in the ultimate display of wealth, power, and white privilage her family manages to get her a full pardon. This means that she entire criminal record is totally wiped from her record. It is like it never happened. Whats this mean, well for one thing if she wanted to she could run for the United States Senate and or President of the United States. While me, I had dedicated my life to service, to making amends for all the things I did while I was using drugs. And while I have what is known as a Certificate of Relief From Disabilities, which restored most of my civil rights I am still considered a felon.

Bank robbery 1. Caught on video tape baring a semi automatic weapon and observed keeping time for the crew.
Mel’s sporting goods store shoot out, Patty Hearst is the only one shooting a semi automatic weapon.
Bank robbery 2. A woman is murdered, Patty Hearst was one of the archetects of this robbery and the get away driver.
Patty Hearst plants a bomb under a police car, fortunatly it did not go off.
Several more car bombs were planted, a few did go off luckiely no one was hurt.

So this Thanksgiving season, Patty Hearst you should be very thankful. Thankful that you are a white female born into massive wealth because you escaped prison for some very brutal and heinous crimes. While thousands of poor black and brown people serve long prison stretches for crime that do not come any where near as serious as those you participated in.


Disease: a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.