Saturday, July 12, 2008

Confronting The Hearst/`Cosmopolitan' Media Monopoly: The SLA's 1974 Kidnapping of Patty Hearst--Part 3

(The following article first appeared in the 9/9/92 issue of the now-defunct Lower East Side alternative weekly newspaper, Downtown. See parts 1-2 below.)

In early April 1974, another taped message was released by the SLA in which Patty Hearst announced that she had decided to become an urban guerrilla herself, with the name of “Tania.” And on April 15, 1974—as a member of the SLA—Patty “Tania” Hearst was photographed by a bank surveillance camera holding a carbine during a successful armed robbery of a Hibernia Bank branch in San Francisco by the urban guerrilla group.

The following month, six of Patty “Tania” Hearst’s new comrades were attacked on May 17, 1974 in the Los Angeles house they were hiding in by 410 Los Angeles policemen and 127 FBI agents—who fired 5,391 rounds of ammunition at them. During the L.A. SWAT team-led attack, the house in which the urban guerrillas were hiding caught fire and—before L.A. police allowed firefighters to put the fire out—“Cinque” DeFreeze, four white radical women—Patricia “Zoya-Mizmoon” Soltysik, Camilla “Gabi” Hall, Nancy “Fahiza” Ling-Perry and Angela “Gelini” DeAngelis-Atwood [who had grown up in North Haledon, New Jersey] and one white radical man—Willy “Kojo” Wolfe—were either burned to death or killed without trial by police bullets. According to The Life And Death Of The SLA by Les Payne and Tim Findley, “It was apparent that the SLA was given no more than a perfunctory chance to surrender.”

A few days after the May 17, 1974 massacre of the six SLA guerrillas, Patty “Tania” Hearst issued another taped communique in which she denounced “the pig Hearsts” and expressed her love for the slain Willy “Kojo” Wolfe, who had grown up in Connecticut and worked for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in Manhattan before moving to Berkeley in the early 1970s. “Tania” Hearst then spent the next 16 months traveling around the country and being underground with two other SLA members—Emily Harris and Bill Harris—and some counter-culture sympathizers, before being captured by the FBI in San Francisco on September 18, 1975.

At the time of her arrest, Patty “Tania” Hearst still regarded herself as an urban guerrilla. But by the time of her trial for her participation in the April 15, 1974 Hibernia Bank robbery, she had been re-united with her family and denied that she had ever chosen to be an urban guerrilla. A jury still found her guilty of the bank robbery, however, and on September 24, 1976 she was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Not surprisingly—given the Hearst Dynasty’s special influence in the United States—on February 1, 1979 Democratic President Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence and she was released from prison after serving less than two years of a seven-year sentence. Two months after her release from prison, she married the San Francisco cop who had been her bodyguard after her arrest, and she was awarded an $800,000 [in 1970s money] book contract from Doubleday to write her memoirs. By the 1980s, the former urban guerrilla was a supporter of Ronald Reagan and an opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment. And during the 1990s, she apparently lived on the East Coast.

(Downtown 9/9/92)

Next: Secrecy At Hearst Historically

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