[sixties-l] SLA Radicals to Account for Robbery (fwd)

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Date: Mon Jan 21 2002 - 17:55:39 EST

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    ---------- Forwarded message ----------
    Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002 15:13:27 -0800
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: SLA Radicals to Account for Robbery

    SLA Radicals to Account for Robbery


    By JIM WASSERMAN Associated Press Writer
    Friday, Jan. 18, 2002

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The bank robber in a ski mask pressed a shotgun
    to Myrna Opsahl's side and killed her with a single blast, the result of a
    holdup by a 1970s group known for its revolutionary rhetoric.
    According to a later account, the alleged killer claimed the shooting was
    an accident but that it didn't matter because the victim "was a bourgeois
    pig anyway."
    This week, police and prosecutors moved on homes of quiet middle-aged
    residents allegedly linked to the 1975 robbery, triggering a court fight
    sure to revive memories of the revolutionary passions and rhetoric from a
    different era.
    The Symbionese Liberation Army emerged from the ashes of the 1960s anti-war
    movement and was blamed for several violent acts in the 1970s.
    Merging black ex-convicts and middle-class college graduates, the group
    achieved notoriety for kidnapping newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst and
    forcing her wealthy parents to donate millions of dollars of food to the
    needy. The SLA's actions were fed by the rhetoric of militant
    revolutionaries, together with a passion for minorities and the poor.
    Opsahl's routine, dropping off a church collection at the bank, had
    collided head-on with the radical SLA. Four armed robbers burst into the
    bank in Carmichael, Calif., shot Opsahl and escaped with $15,000, dropping
    as much cash as they kept.
    Opsahl's son, physician Jon Opsahl, has dedicated much of his adult life to
    bringing his mother's killers to justice.
    "This is very therapeutic, that it did matter," he said after the charges
    were filed against the former SLA members. "That it matters to a lot of
    Police in Los Angeles, Oakland and Portland, Ore., arrested former SLA
    members Emily Harris, William Harris and Michael Bortin on Wednesday
    morning. Sara Jane Olson, already facing sentencing Friday for a failed
    1975 plot to bomb a Los Angeles police car, surrendered to police after she
    was charged in the robbery. Also charged was former SLA member James
    Kilgore, a fugitive since the 1970s who remains at large.
    One of Olson's lawyers, Shawn Snider Chapman, said prosecutors have built a
    weak case. "All these people have been snatched from their homes for
    nothing," he said this week.
    Olson went by her given name, Kathleen Soliah, in the 1970s before
    disappearing and resurfacing in Minnesota. She faces 20 years to life in
    prison for the bombing attempt, which she said was to avenge the death of
    six colleagues in a 1974 shootout with police in Los Angeles.
    Her brother, Steven Soliah, was acquitted in a 1976 federal trial for the
    Carmichael robbery.
    Hearst, at the center of a kidnapping drama that consumed the world's
    attention, is expected to be the prosecution's leading witness in the
    robbery case.
    In a 1982 book called "Every Secret Thing," Hearst said Emily Harris shot
    Opsahl. She also named the robbers and lookouts and detailed her own role
    as a getaway driver.
    Hearst wrote that Harris answered a colleague's question about Opsahl's
    condition by saying, "Oh, she's dead. But it really doesn't matter. She was
    a bourgeois pig anyway. Her husband is a doctor. He was at the hospital
    where they brought her."
    She explained in the book, "Emily told us the shotgun had gone off by
    accident. She had told the woman to get down on the floor, but the woman
    had not moved fast enough to suit Emily. So Emily thrust the shotgun
    forward to threaten her, and the gun had gone off."
    Hearst, Steven Soliah and Wendy Yoshimura were granted immunity for their
    involvement in the robbery in exchange for their testimony before a 1991
    grand jury, Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully said.
    The long-dormant case has gathered legal momentum since Olson was arrested
    in 1999 after two decades on the run.
    Scully said there was new information in the case, "which we believe
    establishes additional corroborating evidence linking those named by Patty
    Hearst to the Crocker Bank robbery and murder."
    Affidavits filed in Sacramento Superior Court for Wednesday's arrests said
    bullets, drawings of banks, robbery instructions and a Sacramento street
    map had been found at the SLA's San Francisco safe house. The FBI also
    linked shotgun pellets found in Myrna Opsahl to ammunition from the SLA house.
    The files also say Olson's palm print matches prints on the door of a
    Sacramento garage where the group stored a getaway car.

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