04th Feb2014

Today in History – Feb. 3 – SLA kidnaps Patty Hearst

by Ken Clarke

On this day in 1974 the 19-year-old daughter of newspaper publisher Randolph Hearst is kidnapped from Berkeley, California by a group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA).

Hearst was taken from her apartment by two armed black men and a white woman after beating her fiancé and tying him up. She was taken from the home blindfolded put into the trunk of a car. Witnesses said they were forced to take cover after the men began firing their guns to scare them.

After hearing nothing for three days the group sent a letter to a Berkeley radio station stating they were holding Hearst as a prisoner of war. Four days later they demanded the Hearst give $70 in food to every needy person from Santa Rosa to Los Angeles after that they would negotiate her return. Her father quickly gave away $2 million in food, which the SLA called inadequate and wanted $6 million more. He said he would after his daughter was released.

The stalemate lasted until April when a surveillance camera caught Hearst participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank and a robbery of a Los Angeles store.

She later declared she had joined the SLA.

A raid of the SLA in May in which six of the members were killed did not produce Hearst, but in September 1975 after crisscrossing the country with her captors was captured in San Francisco. Hearst claimed she had been brainwashed but in March 1976 she was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison. She served 21 months until her sentenced was commuted by President Jimmy Carter. She was pardoned in 2001 by President Bill Clinton

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