[sixties-l] Three Former SLA Members Arrested (fwd)

From: sixties@lists.village.virginia.edu
Date: Thu Jan 17 2002 - 01:13:32 EST

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    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002 20:37:40 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Three Former SLA Members Arrested

    Three Former SLA Members Arrested in Deadly 1975
    Bank Robbery Near Sacramento.

    AP. 16 January 2002.

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Three former members of the Symbionese Liberation
    Army, the 1970s radical group that kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty
    Hearst, were arrested Wednesday in connection with a deadly bank robbery
    carried out 27 years ago.

    Emily Harris, ex-husband Bill Harris and Mike Bortin will be charged
    with first-degree murder in the slaying of a bank customer during a 1975
    holdup in the suburb of Carmichael, authorities said.

    Emily Harris was arrested at her home in Los Angeles, her ex-husband was
    taken into custody in Oakland, and Bortin was arrested in Portland, Ore.

    The arrests came two days before the sentencing of another former SLA
    member, Sara Jane Olson, for her role in a failed 1975 attempt to blow
    up Los Angeles police cars. Los Angeles District Attorney's spokeswoman
    Sandi Gibbons would not say whether Olson would testify in the robbery

    "I question the timing of this," said Shawn Snider Chapman, one of
    Olson's lawyers.

    Prosecutors had hoped Olson's testimony would advance the bank robbery
    case. Bortin is married to one of Olson's sisters. But Olson has denied
    any involvement in the holdup.

    Chapman said that during the two years she has investigated the Olson
    case, "all I've learned and all I've read is that they consider this to
    be an unprosecutable case. All these people have been snatched from
    their homes for nothing."

    Unlike Olson, who was captured in Minnesota in 1999 after two decades on
    the run, the three SLA figures arrested Wednesday were not fugitives.
    Their whereabouts had been known to authorities for years.

    The 1975 holdup of the Crocker National Bank led to the slaying of
    42-year-old Myrna Opsahl, a mother of four who was shot while depositing
    a church collection. At the time, the robbers were widely believed to be
    members of the group that kidnapped Hearst as a 19-year-old from her
    Berkeley apartment.

    Hearst later wrote about the holdup, claiming she was waiting in a
    getaway car. She placed Olson and Bortin at the scene and said it was
    Emily Harris who shot Opsahl. But none of them was ever charged in the

    The case has been the subject of numerous investigations, and Dr. Jon
    Opsahl, the son of the victim, had lobbied prosecutors for years to file

    After kidnapping Hearst in 1974, the SLA demanded that her parents,
    Randolph and Catherine Hearst, distribute millions in food to the needy.

    Ultimately, Hearst became a member of the SLA and took the name Tania.

    Two months after the kidnapping, she was photographed carrying a carbine
    during an SLA bank holdup in San Francisco. Although she claimed she was
    the victim of brainwashing, she was convicted of bank robbery and
    sentenced to seven years in prison. She served about two years before
    President Carter commuted her sentence. In 2000, she was pardoned by
    President Clinton.

    The Harrises spent eight years in prison for kidnapping Hearst. Emily
    Harris had been living in Southern California under an assumed name and
    was working as a computer consultant. Her former husband is remarried,
    the father of two, and was working as a private investigator.

    Bortin, 53, spent 18 months in prison for possession of explosives. He
    is married and has a flooring business.

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