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SLA Chronology

By Patrick Mondout

Our main article on the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) is here. There are pages for SLA victims Dr. Marcus Roberts, Steven Weed, Patty Hearst, and Myrna Opsahl. There are also individual pages for SLA members Angela Atwood, Camilla Hall, Donald DeFreeze, Emily & Bill Harris, James Kilgore, Michael Bortin, Nancy Ling Perry, Patricia Soltysik, Wendy Yoshimura, and Willie Wolfe.

Chronology of SLA Events

As a backdrop to these events and to help understand some motivations, recall the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the assassinations of both Kennedy's, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, the riot at Attica in 1971, Watergate, the riot at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the Pentagon Papers, and other groups such as the Weatherman, Students for a Democratic Society, and the Black Panthers.

1971: Donald DeFreeze is finally sentenced to an extended stay at the Vacaville prison after eight previous arrests fail to rehabilitative him.

March 30, 1972: Wendy Yoshimura's garage is found to contain a large cache of weapons and bombs. Fellow 'Revolutionary Army' members Willie Brandt and Paul Rubenstein along with Michael Bortin are caught after police stakeout the residence and later plead guilty. Among the items found is a "communiqué" from the terrorist group claiming responsibility for a bombing that was to happen that night. Yoshimura manages to elude police.

Summer/Fall of 1972: Several future members of the SLA become involved with Venceremos, a radicalized group of prison rights activists.

September 1972: Vacaville inmate Donald DeFreeze becomes the leader of a prison group called Unisight. Venceremos members Willy Wolfe and Russell Little attend Unisight meetings as tutors for the inmates.

December 1972: Donald DeFreeze is transferred from Vacaville to Soledad prison.

March 5, 1973: Donald DeFreeze escapes from Soledad. Russell Little and Willy Wolfe take him to one of their safehouses were Patricia Soltysik and Nancy Ling Perry are living (Soltysik is chosen because, unlike the others, she has not visited the prisons and the police would not know her). The SLA is soon born with DeFreeze as their leader.

November 6, 1973: SLA members assassinate Dr. Marcus Foster, an African-American school superintendent. A communiqué is released claiming responsibility.

November 12, 1973: Police were called to the "DeVoto" house (the false name Russell Little and Nancy Ling Perry were using) after a local teenager made the mistake of pulling a gun on her in an apparent robbery/rape attempt. The gun went off and police investigated, but only saw Perry as a victim.

January 11, 1974: SLA members Joe Remiro and Russell Little are arrested in connection with the Foster murder.

February 4, 1974: SLA members kidnap newspaper heiress Patricia 'Patty' Hearst. Another communiqué is issued, demanding the release of the SLA members arrested for the Foster murder.

February 12, 1974: An SLA communique demands $6M worth of food be distributed to local poor people as an act of good faith.

February 22, 1974: The food begins to be distributed, but only $2M worth. Violent thugs cause near riots at distribution points. Hearst's father claims the $6M is beyond his capabilities, playing right into the captors hands. They show Patty excerpts of his statement from the newspaper to "prove" to her that what they have been saying about him is true.

February 28, 1974: Another smaller handout of food is better organized and more well attended by police and news crews, after the disaster of February 22nd. Additional "People In Need" food handouts were arranged for March 5th and 8th.

March 4, 1974: California Governor Ronald Reagan inflames the situation by claiming that those who took the food were "aiding and abetting lawlessness." The problem with the statement is that thousands of underprivileged people did receive food and were not violent. He had predicted before the first handout that no one would show up.

March 25, 1974: The final People In Need giveaway takes place with an estimated 30,000 receiving food. These giveaways help the SLA terrorists gain support from some radicals seemingly willing to excuse their assassination of Marcus Foster.

April 3, 1974: Another in a series of tapes is sent by the SLA to a local radio station on which Patty Hearst announces that she has changed allegiances to the SLA and has taken on the name 'Tania."

April 15, 1974: The SLA robs the Hibernia bank. The nation is shocked to see Patty Hearst holding a weapon on bank camera footage. The FBI claims that the pictures show that the other SLA members had their guns pointed at Patty and that she was likely forced to participate.

April 23, 1974: The first FBI posters for the group include Patty only as a material witness. Also on the poster are Donald De Freeze, Patricia Michelle Soltysik, Camilla Christine Hall and Nancy Ling Perry.

April 24, 1974: Another tape from Patty suggests that her gun was loaded and that she was a willing participant and that further study of the photographs would prove it. She also suggested that if that didn't work, her future actions would prove it. Public opinion started to shift regarding whether or not she had actually even been kidnapped or was a willing participant all along.

April 30, 1974: The SLA leaves their apartment on Golden Gate Avenue for in the Bayview district.

May 2, 1974: The FBI raids the apartment on Golden Gate Avenue, but has no clue as to where the SLA has fled.

May 16, 1974: Patty Hearst and Bill & Emily Harris are involved in an altercation outside a sporting goods store near Los Angeles.

May 17, 1974: LAPD officers and SWAT teams surround an SLA "safehouse" in Los Angeles. All six heavily armed SLA members in the house are killed by gunfire or a fire that engulfs the residence.

June 2, 1974: Radicals in Berkeley, including Kathleen Soliah, hold a rally in support of the dead terrorists. Soliah and others would soon join up after Emily Harris approaches her.

June 7, 1974: A seventh tape from Patty Hearst eulogizes her fallen comrades. She also makes it clear that the SLA will continue and that one of the dead, Willy Wolfe, was her lover.

July - October 1974: Wendy Yoshimura, Patty Hearst, and the Harrises stay at a safehouse in Pennsylvania arranged by sports critic Jack Scott, who wants to write a book about them.

November 3, 1974: With no word from Patty for months, Randolph Hearst withdraws his offer of $50,000 for her return. Many believe she has been killed and whenever a woman's body is found, many assume at first that it is her.

March 1 1974: Russell Little and Joe Remiro, charged with the assassination of Marcus Foster, attempt to escape. Their lawyer came to see Little and Russ asked that Remiro join in. The two terrorists found themselves alone with just two guards. Little jumped out of his chair and stabbed one of them in the throat with a pencil while Remiro punched the other. Their efforts ultimately failed, but they did manage to seriously wound a "pig."

February 25, 1975: The remaining SLA members rob the Guild Savings and Loan in San Francisco. They are not suspected at first. According to Patty Hearst, Mike Bortin and Jim Kilgore pulled off the heist with Steven and Kathleen Soliah outside in separate "switch" cars (getaway in one, then switch to other a few blocks away). The robbery netted the terrorists over $3700.

April 21, 1975: The SLA rob the Carmichael Bank and senselessly kill a customer, Myrna Opsahl.

June 9, 1975: Russell Little and Joe Remiro are both found guilty in the Marcus Foster case after 11 days of jury deliberations.

June 27, 1975: Little and Remiro are each handed life sentences for their roles in the Marcus Foster slaying. Russell Little made a statement to the court claiming that the conviction will, "do nothing but strengthen our forces." Some 20 or so supporters of the terrorists reportedly applauded. Little will eventually wiggle his way out on a technicality but Remiro remains safely behind bars.

August 7, 1975: San Francisco police are able to successfully detonate SLA bombs left at their Mission and Taraval stations.

August 13, 1975: An SLA bomb explodes at the Emeryville police station. No one is injured.

August 20, 1975: Another injury-free SLA bomb explodes, this time at the Marin County Courthouse.

August 21, 1975: Bombs planted by SLA terrorist Kathleen Soliah (Sara Jane Olson) under LAPD cars fail to detonate. She will plead guilty to this charge more than a quarter of a century later.

September 18, 1975: Patty Hearst, Wendy Yoshimura, Steven Soliah, William Harris and Emily Harris are arrested in a pair police operations. When asked for her occupation, Hearst responds, "urban guerrilla." Only Kathleen Soliah and James Kilgore remain on the run.

September 22, 1975: Sara Jane Moore, who worked as a bookkeeper for the People In Need food distribution program and an SLA-wannabe, attempts to assassinate President Ford. Kathleen Soliah soon changes her name to Sara Jane Olson.

February 26, 1976: Kathleen Soliah is indicted for her role in the August 21, 1975 failed bombing. She is already out of the country.

March 20, 1976: Patty Hearst is convicted on federal charges stemming from her role in the bank robbery.

September 29, 1976: Bill & Emily Harris plead guilty for their parts in the Hearst abduction. They will each serve eight years in prison.

April 27, 1976: Steven Soliah is acquitted on charges related to SLA activities. It is revealed the day the case closed and went to the jury that his alibi, Emily Tobach, was visiting prisoners at Folsom when, according to sworn testimony, she was supposed to be with Soliah. The time in question is also when the bank was robbed. The jury never heard the evidence and Tobach was not charged with perjury.

January 20, 1977: Wendy Yoshimura is convicted on charges stemming from the 1972 arrest of two fellow members of the Revolutionary Army.

January 29, 1979: Patty Hearst has her sentence commuted by President Jimmy Carter.

February 27, 1979: Russell Little has his conviction overturned. Joe Remiro's is upheld.

June 4, 1981: Russell Little is acquitted during a retrial.

January 14, 1984: Jack and Micki Scott, the pair that shuttled Patty Hearst and her terrorist captors from coast to coast and lived with them in a rented safehouse in Pennsylvania, get $30,000 in an out of court settlement from the heiress, who just wants them to go away. Ironically, the Scotts objected to Hearst accusation that they operated an underground railroad for radical fugitives. It was actually more like a taxi service, since Jack Scott himself twice drove 'Tania' across the country while she was the most hunted woman on Earth and sent for Wendy Yoshimura to join them and the Harrises.

May 15, 1999: To mark the 25th anniversary of the SLA shootout, America's Most Wanted features Kathleen Soliah and James Kilgore (who happens to be in South Africa).

June 16, 1999: Kathleen Soliah, living under the name of Sara Jane Olson, is finally arrested in Minnesota having alluded law enforcement for a quarter of a century.

January 2001: President Clinton pardons Patty Hearst.

October 2001: Kathleen Soliah plead guilty in the case that accuses her of possessing bombs with the intent to kill police officers back in 1974.

January 16, 2002: Bill and Emily Harris and Mike Bortin are arrested in a multi-state coordinated police action. Each are charged along with Kathleen Soliah with first-degree murder in connection with the 1975 bank robbery. Also charged is James Kilgore, whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

November 7, 2002: Soliah, Bortin, and the Harrises plead guilty.

November 8, 2002: James Kilgore finally emerges as the final SLA fugitive. He is extradited from South Africa.

February 14, 2003: Emily Harris receives eight years for second degree murder while her ex-husband Bill receives seven years. Bortin received six years while Soliah had another six years tacked on to her previous 14 year sentence for other charges. The family of Myrna Opsahl finally see her murderers receive prison sentences nearly 30 years after the crime.

April 26, 2004: Kilgore receives 4 and a half years in prison for passport fraud and explosives charges.




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Kathleen Soliah, Nancy Ling Perry, Patricia Soltysik, William Harris, Patty Hearst, Donald DeFreeze, Emily Harris, Angela Atwood, Camilla Hall

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