Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


The S.L.A.'s Agenda

"Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people."

SLA slogan

One thing had quickly linked the kidnapping of Patty Hearst with the Symbionese Liberation Army. Her kidnappers had fired cyanide-laced bullets into her homethe same type of bullets used four months earlier in Oakland on Election Day to assassinate popular school superintendent Marcus Foster. The SLA had sent two letters claiming credit for the shooting and declaring war on fascists by trying to stop the issuing of student photo I.D.smeant to protect students from drug dealers.

More was learned about this terrorist group when two of their "soldiers" were arrested on January 10th, three weeks before the kidnapping, and after the police located an abandoned safe-house with all kinds of propaganda:

  • "Symbionese" was derived from the word, symbiosis, meaning dissimilar organisms living in harmony.
  • Their symbol, the seven-headed cobra, represented the seven principles of God and life.
  • The leadership showed a strong female influenceand in fact, the actual leader was a lesbian called Mizmoon Soltysik.
  • They had a vague agenda of protecting the rights of "the people."
  • DeFreeze, 31, was a black ex-con among a handful of white veterans, ex-cons, and disenchanted women.
  • DeFreeze's criminal record consisted of a series of petty crimes, and all of his victims had been black.
  • DeFreeze took his name, Cinque, from a captive African being transported to Cuba who had taken over the ship.
  • There were currently only nine "soldiers" in this "army," more females than males.
  • The SLA appears to have been influenced by 1) the anti-war movements of the 1960s that spread across college campuses and caused riots, and 2) prison programs that urged African Americans to band together as brothers.
  • After the Foster killing, they made plans to kidnap Hearstdocuments that law enforcement had found before the event but had failed to act upon.

The two men in custody were soon linked via a .38-calibre pistol to the Foster killing. They went to prison, although one was later released.

Knowing about the SLA, however, did little to stop them from planning further antisocial escapades.

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