Symbionese Liberation Army

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The United Federated Forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) was an American left-wing terrorist organization active between 1973 and 1975 that considered itself a vanguard army. The group committed bank robberies, two murders, and other acts of violence.

The Black Donald DeFreeze was the leader. In his manifesto "Symbionese Liberation Army Declaration of Revolutionary War & the Symbionese Program", he 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-fascist, anti-capitalist, and others.

One of the killed, Marcus Foster, had been the first Black school superintendent in the history of Oakland, but the SLA had condemned him for his supposed plan to introduce identification cards into Oakland schools, calling him "fascist". In fact, Foster had opposed the use of identification cards in his schools, and his plan was a watered-down version of other similar proposals.

The SLA became internationally notorious for the kidnapping of 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. Hearst later said that members of the terrorist group threatened to kill her, held her in close confinement, and sexually assaulted and brainwashed her.

Six SLA members were killed in a shootout with Los Angeles Police Department on 17 May 1974.

As of 2017, all but one of the surviving SLA members have been released from prison.

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