Does the respondent feel the same way about the trials of the bombers of
the church in Birmingham and Byron de la Beckwith in Mississippi? I think
we need to be consistent.
On Mon, 21 Jan 2002, George Snedeker wrote:
> isn't it rather silly to bring people up on charges for crimes which took
> place 27 years ago. perhaps we should reconsider the government's freedom to
> pursue such cases?
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: <email@example.com>
> To: sixties-l <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Monday, January 21, 2002 5:56 PM
> Subject: [sixties-l] Soccer mum pays for terror past [SLA] (fwd)
> > ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> > Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 13:54:27 -0800
> > From: radtimes <email@example.com>
> > Subject: Soccer mum pays for terror past [SLA]
> > Soccer mum pays for terror past
> > Minnesota housewife Sara Jane Olson was once an armed fugitive along with
> > heiress Patty Hearst. Now new murder charges are forcing America to
> > a nightmare from its past.
> > Duncan Campbell in Los Angeles
> > Sunday January 20, 2002
> > The Observer
> > The slim, smiling woman at the counter of Midnight Special, a busy
> > bookshop in Santa Monica, California, just before Christmas had assembled
> > around 20 thick books. She now has good reason for buying so many fat
> > volumes since she will have plenty of time to read them during the decades
> > of prison time that may now stretch in front of her.
> > The woman was Sara Jane Olson, who, in her previous life as Kathleen
> > was alleged to be a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, one of the
> > most bizarre of the urban guerrilla groups of the Seventies. She had
> > been convicted of placing a pipe bomb under a police car and was awaiting
> > sentence - hence the book-buying - but now she and three of her alleged
> > fellow-members are facing trial for the murder of a bank customer during a
> > 1975 raid carried out by the SLA.
> > Their surprise arrests last week have reopened a book in American life
> > had long seemed closed. Not least among the many ironies in the case is
> > those now accused of being home-grown terrorists had become the
> > civic-minded, middle-class members of society against whom the SLA once
> > railed.
> > In 1973 the SLA killed Marcus Foster, a popular black superintendent of
> > education in Oakland who wanted to introduce student ID cards. But the SLA
> > is best known for its kidnapping of Patricia Hearst, the newspaper heiress
> > held for ransom in February 1974. By her account she was intimidated into
> > becoming part of the group and robbing the Hibernia bank in San Francisco
> > under her nomme de guerre of Tania before she and two of her kidnappers,
> > Bill and Emily Harris, were arrested.
> > Hearst was jailed for seven years for her part in the robbery but released
> > after two when President Jimmy Carter issued a clemency order; she was
> > pardoned by President Clinton as he left office last year. The hardcore of
> > the SLA, including its leader, Donald 'Cinque' DeFreeze, had already died
> > a Los Angeles house in May 1974 after a shoot-out with police.
> > Hearst later married her bodyguard, Bernard Shaw, with whom she has two
> > children. She has often said that she hoped her 'Tania' days were over but
> > she is now likely to be the chief prosecution witness in the case.
> > Hearst wrote her memoirs, Cecil B DeMented, in 1982, and it is a passage
> > this book that implicates Olson, the Harrises, and two other radicals,
> > Bortin and Jim Kilgore, as taking part in the $15,000 robbery of the
> > National Bank in Carmichael, California, in 1975.
> > According to Hearst's version, a 42-year-old mother of four children,
> > Lee Opsahl, who was depositing her church's Sunday collection, was shot
> > during the raid by Emily Harris. 'Oh, she's dead,' Hearst quotes Emily
> > Harris as saying, 'but it doesn't really matter. She was a bourgeois pig
> > anyway. Her husband is a doctor.'
> > That remark was to act as a spur for Dr Jon Opsahl, one of the children of
> > the murdered woman, who has attempted to keep the case alive, urging
> > prosecutors to pursue the people named in the book and setting up a
> > (www.myrnaopsahl.com) that contained the evidence.
> > 'Those words have always haunted us,' Opsahl said after the arrests last
> > week. 'She was a wonderful mother... and it was kind of the parallel life
> > that [Sara Jane Olson] assumed which was disturbing, how she participated
> > a crime that took a life and then kind of assumed [that lifestyle]. She
> > on this soccer mom act and the public even came to her defence but I said
> > "wait a minute, that is what my mom was".'
> > Olson's new life has been, by all accounts, exemplary. Married to a
> > Harvard-educated emergency room doctor, Fred, who has worked on
> > Oxfam-related projects in Zimbabwe, she regularly read to the blind, was
> > active in her Methodist church in St Paul, Minnesota, worked with torture
> > victims, took part in charity runs and brought up three daughters Leile,
> > Sophia and Emily.
> > Bill and Emily Harris, who served eight years in jail, separated long ago
> > and Bill became a private investigator and married a lawyer with whom he
> > two sons; he was arrested last Wednesday driving them to school. Emily
> > Harris became a computer programmer and moved to the LA area. Bortin, a
> > former leading light in Students for a Democratic Soci ety, had married
> > Olson's sister, Josephine, and the couple ran a hardwood flooring company
> > Portland, Oregon.The fifth, Jim Kilgore, from San Rafael in Marin County,
> > has never resurfaced. The FBI tried to tease him out after the arrest of
> > Olson in 1999. He did not take the bait.
> > Nothing could have illustrated better the passage of time between those
> > of violent revolution than an event in that same Santa Monica bookshop
> > towards the end of last year. One Sunday afternoon, a Chicago professor,
> > Bill Ayers, well-known for his academic studies on the education of
> > children, was talking about his new book to an audience of around 30
> > The book, Fugitive Days, was about Ayers's life as a member of the Weather
> > Underground, another defunct urban guerrilla group. It had been published
> > 10 September, hardly the most auspicious day for launching a book one
> > chapter of which opens with the words 'Everything was absolutely ideal on
> > the day I bombed the Pentagon.' (The 2lb bomb placed in a Pentagon women's
> > lavatory caused no injuries or deaths.) After Ayers had read from his book
> > member of the audience stood up and talked about her own case. She was
> > Jane Olson.
> > A quarter of a century ago, a meeting of members of the Weather
> > and the SLA would have fuelled the FBI's wildest fantasies but what we had
> > was a friendly conversation between a genial prof and a busy suburban
> > mother.
> > The next day, talking at a fund-raiser in Santa Monica, Olson said that
> > heart had 'selfishly' sunk when she heard of the World Trade Centre
> > She felt that the climate had changed and her chances of a fair trial had
> > lessened.
> > Then Olson signed her own book, Serving Time, America's Most Wanted
> > which she had written to raise funds for a defence case costing hundreds
> > thousands of dollars.
> > The book shows Olson on the cover in striped apron and holding a spatula
> > one hand and a pair of handcuffs in the other. In the foreword, Olson
> > confesses to membership of the Food Conspiracy in the 1970s, 'an umbrella
> > group of neighbourhood food-buying clubs that brought organic food from
> > rural farms and local distributors'. It is this larky nature of her
> > fund-raising efforts that has puzzled some and alienated others.
> > In November last year, after months of proclaiming her innocence, she
> > pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge connected to the pipe bomb but
> > immediately left the courtroom to say she had done so only because her
> > lawyers had insisted she accept a plea bargain deal that would mean she
> > spent only five years in jail. The following week a tetchy Judge Fidler
> > required her to come back and reiterate her guilt. She did so. Then she
> > changed her mind once more and sought to have her plea struck from the
> > records asking that she now stand trial after all. The judge refused,
> > he had no doubt about her guilt. On Friday she was sentenced to 20 years,
> > term which will become academic if she is convicted of murder.
> > All of those charged last week have protested their innocence. But the
> > in the United States is an unforgiving one. When Olson was first arrested,
> > there was some public sympathy for her, an idealistic woman who had become
> > involved in the SLA after her closest friend had been burned alive in the
> > shoot-out. But 11 September has changed the rules: there is much greater
> > support for the police and little sympathy for anyone associated with
> > terrorism.
> > A new chapter is about to be written in the book which everyone had
> > was closed and in which the SLA will have its final epitaph. Perhaps it
> > already been uttered by the fugitive Jim Kilgore. In her book, Hearst
> > him screaming furiously at the surviving members of the group as all their
> > plans unravelled: 'What did the SLA ever accomplish? You killed a black
> > kidnapped a little teenage girl and robbed a bank. What the hell did that
> > amount to?'
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