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Tue, 11.06.1973

The Symbionese Liberation Army, a story

*The founding of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) is affirmed on this date in 1973. 

They were an American left-wing terrorist organization active between 1973 and 1975.  Also called the United Federated Forces, it considered itself a vanguard army. The group committed bank robberies, two murders, and other acts of violence.  They were responsible for the assassination of Oakland school superintendent Marcus Foster

In his manifesto "Symbionese Liberation Army Declaration of Revolutionary War & the Symbionese Program", Donald DeFreeze wrote, "The name 'Symbionese' is taken from the word symbiosis and we define its meaning as a body of dissimilar bodies and organisms living in deep and loving harmony and partnership in the best interest of all within the body." The political symbiosis DeFreeze describes means the unity of all left-wing struggles, feminist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, and others. DeFreeze wanted all races, genders, and ages to fight together in a left-wing united front and to live together peacefully.

DeFreeze was one of two SLA's Black members. The seven-headed SLA hydra-like cobra symbol was based on the seven principles of Kwanzaa, each head representing a principle.  The appearance of the symbol of the seven-headed cobra on SLA publications indicates that it was copied from the ancient Indian and Sri Lankan seven-headed nāga; carved stones depicting a seven-headed cobra are commonly found in Sri Lanka and are believed to have been placed there as guardians of the water.  

The SLA became internationally notorious for kidnapping heiress Patricia Hearst, abducting the 19-year-old from Berkeley, California. Interest increased when Hearst, in audiotaped messages delivered to (and broadcast by) regional news media, announced that she had joined the SLA. After her rescue, Hearst later said that members of the terrorist group threatened to kill her, held her in close confinement, and sexually assaulted and brainwashed her.  As of 2017, all but one of the surviving SLA members have been released from prison. 


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