Antifa, Symbionese Liberation Army, & Their Signature Chopped M1 Carbine

Antifa is a violent left-wing conglomeration of ill-informed America-hating malcontents. This group in Portland beat down a Bernie Sanders supporter for brandishing an American flag, something they feel is a symbol of hate and oppression. I bet they’ve never visited Iran, North Korea, or Syria.

Google claims that Antifa is, “A political protest movement comprising autonomous groups affiliated by their militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology.” Those aligned with the movement tend to be anti-capitalists, anarchists, socialists, communists, social democrats, or some toxic combination. Generally, young impressionable ideologues flock to this violent misinformed movement perceiving it to be fresh, edgy, innovative, and new. It isn’t.

Donald DeFreeze along with Patricia Soltysik formed the Symbionese Liberation Army in the early 1970s.

The Symbionese Liberation Army was an American left-wing terrorist organization that was operational on the West Coast between 1973 and 1975. It was the brainchild of an escaped convict named Donald DeFreeze. DeFreeze called himself “General Field Marshal Cinque.” Their catchphrase was, “Death to the fascist insect that preys on the life of the people.”

DeFreeze designed the SLA logo himself. Organized around a seven-headed cobra, these seven heads represented the seven Swahili principles of Kwanzaa.

DeFreeze envisioned the SLA as a symbiotic melding of left-wing causes to include anti-racists, anti-capitalists, feminists, and any other disaffected losers he could con into joining his tidy gang of lunatics. At its apogee, the SLA had a grand total of eighteen official members.

Donald DeFreeze, shown here in a surveillance photograph taken during a bank robbery, was a charismatic figure who tended to attract disaffected middle-class white kids to his quixotic cause.

Donald DeFreeze was serving five years to life for robbing a prostitute when he walked away from an unsecured area of the Soledad State Prison. Apparently DeFreeze had some mad people skills because in short order he had surrounded himself with a core group of committed groupies. Their first operational mission was lyrically, tragically, epically flawed.

The Murder of Marcus Foster

Marcus Foster was a nationally recognized educator and administrator.

Marcus Foster was by all accounts a genuinely great guy. The first African-American superintendent of the Oakland school system, Foster was respected by all with whom he served. However, the SLA decided he had to die because he purportedly planned to introduce a system of student identification cards.

These two SLA assassins targeted a stellar Oakland school superintendent because they mistakenly thought he supported issuing ID cards to students.

This scheme was intended to help exclude drug dealers from the school. The truly tragic bit was that Foster didn’t actually advocate for identification cards himself. These SLA morons just got caught up in the moment, hopelessly befuddled the details, and killed him anyway.

Marcus Foster and his assistant, Robert Blackburn, were both gunned down in cold blood in a school parking lot.

On November 6, 1973, SLA members Joe Remiro, Russ Little, and Donald DeFreeze ambushed Marcus Foster and his deputy, Robert Blackburn, as they left a school board meeting. The SLA assassins shot Foster a total of eight times with hollowpoint bullets they had filled with cyanide. Blackburn was shot as well but survived.

The young surgeon who saved Robert Blackburn’s life eventually chaired the philanthropic organization named in Marcus Foster’s honor.

Remiro was a 27-year-old disillusioned Vietnam veteran who wielded a .380ACP Walther PPK during the hit. Blackburn’s life was saved that evening by a young surgeon named Coyness Ennix. Dr. Ennix ironically went on to serve as President of the Marcus Foster Educational Institute, an organization that raises money for Oakland schools.

Marcus Foster’s wallet and shirt show multiple bullet holes from the cold-blooded attack.

Remiro and Little were caught and sentenced to life in prison. Remiro served five years. Little served forty-three.

A Most Remarkable Captive

The SLA resolved to kidnap Patricia Hearst in an effort at securing publicity for their stupid little mob.

Most SLA members were young white people of privilege who felt a burning desire to rectify the perceived social injustices that raised them in a state of relative opulence. I suspect the legitimately oppressed members of society were too busy working for a living to engage in such foolishness. Having tasted a little infamy from the breathtakingly inept Marcus Foster murder, like an addictive drug the SLA craved even more. To get it they decided to kidnap somebody famous. That somebody was Patricia Hearst.

Patty Hearst was engaged to be married to Steven Weed, one of her former teachers.

Patty Hearst was the granddaughter of William Randolph Hearst and heiress to the Hearst publishing empire. Just filthy rich, she was engaged to be married to a man named Steven Weed. A sophomore at the University of California at Berkeley, Hearst lived with Weed but admitted later she did not really care much for him.

Patty Hearst was targeted simply because she came from a recognizable family.

The SLA found out about Hearst, Weed, and their living arrangements via an engagement announcement in the local newspaper. The overarching strategy, such as it was, was to kidnap Hearst and then exchange her for the imprisoned Remiro and Little.

The SLA roughed up Patty Hearst’s fiancé during the kidnapping.

The SLA kidnappers broke a wine bottle over Weed’s head and made off with Hearst. Weed dove out a window, nominally in search of help. Thus began one of the strangest kidnapping sagas in American history.

The Hearst family indeed had a great deal of money, but most of it was tied up in trusts. Patricia’s father took out a loan to meet the kidnapper’s demands.

When it became obvious that the prisoner exchange wasn’t going to happen, the SLA demanded that the Hearst family instead donate groceries to the poor. The mandated figure fluctuated between $4 million and $400 million.

Instead of queuing up to get their free stuff peaceably, one of the Bay Area SLA Hearst grocery giveaways precipitated a riot.

When Patty’s dad attempted to comply, a riot ensued that resulted in workers just throwing food off of the trucks in fear of their lives.

Turning to the Dark Side

This surveillance photo captivated the nation. Just over two months after her forcible abduction, Hearst was wielding a weapon alongside her captors.

The SLA initially locked Hearst in a closet and steadily exposed her to radical left-wing ideology. She was allowed to release a series of tape recordings the tone of which evolved starkly over time. The first few expressed fear and subservience. By day 13 she was extemporaneously espousing SLA dogma. She eventually denounced her family, her fiancé, and her former life of privilege, taking on the name “Tania,” after an associate of Che Guevara.

This shot from the Hibernia robbery shows SLA members vigorously egressing the bank.

On April 15, 1974, some 70 days after her abduction, Patty Hearst was filmed wielding a cut-down M1 Carbine during the robbery of the Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. The SLA team moved with military-like precision, shooting and wounding two customers while making off with $10,960. Patty was ultimately tried and convicted for her part in this robbery.

The Most Violent Police Shootout in American History

The SLA shootout in Los Angeles was one of the most ferocious in American history. Note the LAPD officer’s AR180 rifle.

On May 17, 1974, most of the SLA was holed up in an LA safe house along with Donald DeFreeze. The police got a lucky break and descended upon the location with 400 officers who surrounded the home and demanded the SLA surrender. DeFreeze and his mignons opened fire. What followed was a truly epic firefight.

Police recovered nineteen weapons from the ashes after the fire to include three full-auto carbines and several illegal short-barreled shotguns.

The SLA wielded nineteen weapons to include M1 Carbines converted to full auto as well as cut-down 12-gauge shotguns, handguns, and improvised grenades made from 35mm film canisters. SWAT officers were armed with AR15 and AR180 rifles. Before it was over, a whopping 9,000 rounds had been expended, 4,000 by the SLA and 5,000 by the cops.

Six SLA members perished in the fire, to include the leader Donald DeFreeze.

Police fired multiple incendiary tear gas canisters into the home, eventually setting it alight. Two female SLA members left the house firing weapons and were gunned down by police. DeFreeze shot himself in the head. The remaining three SLA terrorists died from smoke inhalation. Despite 4,000 rounds fired by the SLA not a single cop or firefighter was injured.

The Guns

These are weapons recovered from the SLA. The MP40-style under folding stock was a common aftermarket accessory back in the day.

The SLA’s signature weapon was a cut-down .30-caliber M1 Carbine converted to full auto. Some fed from 15-round box magazines and others via 30-rounders. I couldn’t determine if these were all customized military carbines or potentially converted Iver Johnson Enforcer pistols. Some of the guns used on later operations retained their long barrels. As the M1 Carbine may be converted to full auto simply by dropping in seven parts, in the 1970’s era America it didn’t require a rocket scientist to amp up their hardware.

Illegally shortened Remington 870 shotguns were popular with SLA bank robbers.

Several period photographs show SLA members wielding cut-down Remington 870 slide-action 12-gauge shotguns. It seems these inept but bloodthirsty terrorists failed to respect the sundry dicta of the 1934 National Firearms Act. Not unsurprisingly criminals seem not to be constrained by gun control laws.

The M16A1 was just finding its legs as a law enforcement weapon in the early 1970s.

The cops during the shootout carried AR15’s, M16’s, and AR180 rifles fitted with both 20 and 30-round magazines. In 1974 these weapons would have been fairly cutting edge in the hands of Law Enforcement. The LAPD was one of the few American metropolitan police forces that maintained a dedicated SWAT capability in the early seventies.

The ArmaLite AR180 was a product-improved version of the earlier AR15. Though military use was scant, the AR180 was a stepping stone to greater things.

The ArmaLite Corporation first introduced the AR15 in 1956. Production rights were sold to Colt’s Manufacturing in 1959. In 1963 Gene Stoner, Arthur Miller, George Sullivan, and Charles Dorchester developed the piston-driven AR180 as a more easily manufactured alternative to the direct gas impingement AR15. While no major military ever adopted the AR180, the gun’s piston-driven gas system went on to drive such weapons as the G36, HK416, SA80, Steyr AUG, and FN SCAR.

Firearms are Notoriously Intolerant of Stupidity

After years on the run, these four aging SLA operatives finally pled guilty to the 1975 murder of housewife and mother of four Myrna Opsahl in 2003.

The last major SLA robbery involved the daylight takedown of the Carmichael, California, branch of the Crocker National Bank in April of 1975. As the SLA crew egressed the facility, Emily Harris fumbled her shotgun and it discharged, striking a customer named Myrna Opsahl in the chest and killing her. Opsahl had been in the bank making a deposit for her local church.

The SLA’s final bank eventually launched the career of Scott Adams, the originator of Dilbert and my personal favorite cartoonist.

Decades later the Crocker National Bank employed future cartoonist Scott Adams when he first entered the business world. Crocker NB served as inspiration for the evil Bank of Ethel depicted in his riotously funny cartoon strip Dilbert.

The SLA was really just a bunch of misguided idiot kids with guns. Patty Hearst is shown at the bottom left.

Despite all the ill-conceived schemes and misplaced chaos, Marcus Foster and Myrna Opsahl were the only two people the SLA terrorists actually successfully killed.

Patty Hearst is alive and well today having served less than two years for her crimes committed alongside the Symbionese Liberation Army.

President Jimmy Carter commuted Hearst’s sentence in 1979 after 21 months served, and Bill Clinton ultimately pardoned her on January 20, 2001, his last day in office. Two months after her release from prison, Hearst married Bernard Lee Shaw, a policeman who was part of her security detail while she was out on bail. She has two children, lives in New York, and remains active in charity work and fundraising today.

Patricia Hearst found the SLA’s radical ideology contagious. This SLA propaganda photo became a national icon. Left-wing idiots today still display it proudly on t-shirts.
The short-barreled M1 carbine, shown here with a folding  M1A1 paratrooper stock installed, is, in the wrong hands, a powerful and concealable close-quarters weapon.

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About the author: Will Dabbs A native of the Mississippi Delta, Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D, and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He has parachuted out of perfectly good airplanes at 3 o’clock in the morning and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…always at the controls of an Army helicopter, which is the only way sensible folk climb mountains. Major Dabbs eventually resigned his commission in favor of medical school where he delivered 60 babies and occasionally wrung human blood out of his socks. Will works in his own urgent care clinic, shares a business build-ing precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989. He is married to his high school sweetheart, has three awesome adult children, and teaches Sunday School. Turn-ons include vintage German machineguns, flying his sexy-cool RV6A airplane, Count Chocula cereal, and the movie “Aliens.”

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Zircon March 15, 2020, 7:41 pm

    It’s not George Sullivan who was involved with design of the AR-180. The gentleman’s name is Leroy James Sullivan. He goes by the name of Jim. He also designed Ruger’s Mini-14 and was integral in scaling down Stoner’s original AR-10 to the AR-15/M-16.

  • Robert March 10, 2020, 7:51 pm

    antifa is a bunch of snot nosed mostly middle class white kids brainwashed from the far left socialist losers… they are bullies that only attack people when they have large numbers and their face hidden… I would bet my paycheck they would never pick a fight or even engage is a fight one on one.. I would love to step in the octagon with any of them.. cowards is all they are

  • Bad Penguin March 10, 2020, 1:46 am

    Patty, another poor little rich girl who got off because of rich parents. Wonder how much money Clinton got for letting her out of prison.

  • Roy March 9, 2020, 9:16 pm

    The writer obviously is a blind follower of the now, at least in regards to Antifa. The other groups, sure, albeit I don’t know a lot about them. Taking issue with Antifa. I love guns, supe pro2A, but the author doesn’t have any idea about Antifa. I respect Antifa, who wants Nazis around today!!!???

    • Mike V March 10, 2020, 11:56 am

      “I respect Antifa, who wants Nazis around today!!!???”

      You honestly think that sums it up? Ok…

    • Kane March 10, 2020, 12:12 pm

      Thank goodness that ATIFA is out there keep US all safe from those resilient Nazis.

    • Mark Wynn March 10, 2020, 10:41 pm

      Roy, strongly suggest you read up on “antifa.” The irony is that the so-called anti-fascists are the most fascist terrorist group in the USA. They employ anarchy, harassment, violence and vandalism against anyone they consider political opponents — in other words, the very tactics employed by Hitler’s Brown Shirts against his political opponents. They’re funded by George Soros and other leftist operators, stay in small cells and receive their assignment from sources that remain anonymous. While the FBI estimates there are about 4,000 ultra-right followers, there are over 40,000 antifa. They wear masks, black garb, jack boots, and carry baseball bats, boards with nails, and throw bottles filled with nails. They block major arteries, putting people needing police, medical or fire assistance in peril. They smash windows and doors of public buildings and set fires. antifa are dangerous terrorists.

      • Robert May 4, 2020, 2:08 am

        You might want to double check the definition of “fascist” I don’t think you understand what it means.

        • MKT August 2, 2020, 10:39 pm

          He actually understands the term “fascist” well. You and Roy buy the Antifa definition like a couple of sub-60 IQ clowns. Despite what they say, Antifa is organized, evil, well-financed and uses violence and terror to silence anyone who opposes them. In the end, they’re totalitarians just like commies, nazis, fascists and the rest.

    • Ej harbet March 11, 2020, 5:30 pm

      Roy needs to gain prohibited possessor status on nics. For public safety
      And perhaps some good meds. Somebody help joe before he howls at the moon and gets shot by some neighbor who cought him sniffing bicycle seats

    • Pete Faz March 20, 2020, 8:06 pm

      Roy boy -the only good Antifa is a gelded Antifa

  • The D March 9, 2020, 4:38 pm

    WOW very Bias/yellow tinted info we can clearly even see the author is choosing a side on his own story!

    Very unprofessional, that should be left to the reader to make up his own mind.

    Do some more research people! Don’t make up your own opinions from information like this..

    • Mike V March 10, 2020, 11:59 am

      Of course he’s biased you dildo, why shouldn’t he be?

      Last I checked, every article here is the authors opinion on a subject, big deal.

  • Billy Bob March 9, 2020, 2:36 pm

    Of course they are inventions of the anti American globalists. Simply examine the response to both groups. It’s very easy to see, ” who benefits”.

  • Richard Lizarraga Lizarraga March 9, 2020, 2:32 pm

    Come on people. You have to know both the SLA and Antufa are deep state manufactured and controlled entities. They work for the bad guys in government.

    • Kane March 10, 2020, 12:19 pm

      Patty was targeted as pay back to he grand father William Randolph Hearst. You can be 20 years in the grave and your enemies will still come calling.

  • Ti March 9, 2020, 11:49 am

    AR-180’s. LAPD bought local.

  • Kevin March 9, 2020, 11:18 am

    On top of all the other things that you got wrong in this article, you glossed over Patty Hearst’s captivity. She was subjected to what we now call “enhanced interrogation techniques”, which are used to break down one’s resistance to interrogation, but can also be used to indoctrinate or “brainwash” someone. She was kept in isolation, but she was also deprived of sleep, fed a constant stream of SLA ideology, and repeatedly raped. Since Hearst came from a life of wealth, luxury, and privilege, and was not a spec ops operator trained in SERE, it was easy for the SLA to brainwash this rich little white girl. If this happened today, I doubt she would be put on trial. Presidents Carter and Clinton did the right thing.

    • Bad Penguin March 10, 2020, 1:49 am

      Oh BS. Patty was a willing participant in all of their crimes. The author avoided talking about her so called captivity because even that couldnt be spun to make her look like a victim.

  • Jack Thom March 9, 2020, 10:53 am

    Pat Bryan – SLA = Terrorist, Antifa = Terrorist, So….Use a little common sense.

    CptRedBeard – Oh boy! Not only PC Police, now we have the “Spelling Police”. Get a life! Misspellings occur, all us educated people know he meant “minions”.

    Steve in Detroit – look at your email address, it’s probably you!

  • Pat Bryan March 9, 2020, 9:47 am

    Boy, you start out rewriting history and conflating every dogwhistle that you know. BTW, the article and SLA history has nothing to do with Antifa. You pour Antifa over the head and 1st paragraph like cane syrup, when Antifa does not have a damned thing to do with the story. Antifa here is just your ax to grind and dogwhistle to blows. With such a non sequitur attack on Antifa, it can only be presumed that you are a supporter of Neo-Nazis and feel threatened., doesn’t anybody EDIT these pieces?

    • Michael A Keim March 9, 2020, 12:54 pm

      SLA, Antifa, neo nazis, KKK and you are all assholes. You, because you sound like you admire antifa. All these hate groups are idiots and losers.

      • maddog March 9, 2020, 8:33 pm

        whatever happened to freedom of speech? if it’s not your way people are idiots and losers. look in the mirror and pick out the loser.

    • Matt March 9, 2020, 1:00 pm

      Maybe he was referring to the similarities of the two since the defining attributes of both are the same.

      “The antifa (/ænˈtiːfə, ˈæntiˌfɑː/) movement is composed of left-wing, autonomous, militant anti-fascist groups and individuals in the United States. The principal feature of antifa groups is their use of direct action, with conflicts occurring both online and in real life. They engage in varied protest tactics, which include digital activism, property damage, physical violence, and harassment against those whom they identify as fascist, racist, or on the far-right.

      Activists involved in the movement tend to be anti-capitalists] and subscribe to a range of ideologies, typically on the left. They include anarchists, socialists and communists along with some liberals and social democrats. Their stated focus is on fighting far-right and white supremacist ideologies directly, rather than through electoral means. ”

      Black Panthers and Weather Underground, as I remember, could be lumped into these radical left groups also. There have been many others over the years. But the wrong ideologies of society in the 1960s and 70s spawned quite a few.

    • Big Al March 9, 2020, 1:04 pm

      Wow, you speak of your perceived character of others whilst displaying your own gross assumptive mindset.
      Please logically explain how you came to determine that the Author is a supporter of Neo-Nazi’s and feels “threatened”.
      Because that is the biggest damn stretch I have read in quite some time.
      It’s illustrative of a jumbled train of thought that can’t possibly be born of a rational mind.
      And the fact that you somehow entirely missed the comparison of the two groups to illustrate the silly mindset and purpose of the members both then and now boggles the logical mind.
      Perhaps YOU are a supporter of Antifa? That would explain much.

    • Walleye March 9, 2020, 4:05 pm

      Perhaps the obvious escapes you Patrick, but yesterday’s SLA is today’s Antifa. A difference only in name and a few decades.

  • CptRedbeard March 9, 2020, 9:23 am

    “DeFreeze and his mignons opened fire.” Imagine coming under fire from steaks. Grilling gone wrong the world is upside down.

    • BR549 March 9, 2020, 10:30 am

      So, did the LAPD use a “steak-out”?

      • Mark Wynn March 10, 2020, 10:48 pm

        You guys crack me up ….

  • Mike in a Truck March 9, 2020, 9:15 am

    I remember that shootout well. If I’m not mistaken it was the first time a live feed was broadcast on the news. Forget which network. A picture of the cameraman showed him with a backpack arrangement and I think cables.Yeah,a bunch of loser wannabe revolutionaries. This was also a turning point for California as I recall.All that 60’s antiwar radicalism came home to roost with the SLA.The long slide to where California is today began with Patty getting kidnapped.As bad as the Manson family was they didnt have the social effect the SLA open warfare had,except for Hollywood hype.

  • Jerry S March 9, 2020, 8:39 am

    And now America is governed by PC morons afraid to call a terrorist what they really are.

    • Chuck March 9, 2020, 9:46 am

      When meat goes bad!!

  • OldGuy March 9, 2020, 5:49 am

    I remember well the night the SLA fought-it-out with the LAPD, it was a Tuesday night, a school night, and my 17th birthday. My mom cooked dinner and we were all home together wide-eyed and with our mouths open, we could hardly believe what was going on before our eyes.
    Once the house caught fire, the surviving SLA members relocated below the sub-floor which was down inside the crawlspace just above grade firing out of the foundation vents at the LAPD. Boy, that was some shootout, most of it was covered on live-on-TV, and then repeated on the news for several days.

    That shootout with the SLA was the first wake-up call for the LAPD, the next wake-up call would be 21 years, 10 months, 1 week, and 6 days later during the North Hollywood shootout on 02-28-1997. As a result of both events, the LAPD changed the armament policy from six shooters and a 12-gauge riot gun to semi-automatic pistols, 12-gauge riot guns, and the patrol sergeants received surplus M16s in their squad cars.

  • Steve in Detroit March 9, 2020, 4:21 am

    I found the other user of Outlook.

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