It was a weird time. The Symbionese Liberation Army, a short lived and violent group, wanted to overthrow the government. The group kidnapped newspaper heiress Patty Hearst who later joined the SLA and served her own prison sentence. Make no mistake. This was a dangerous group of people. They were mostly white, middle class idealists who robbed and killed and planned to kill some more. In addition to the 1974 Hearst kidnapping, the group claimed responsibility for assassinating Oakland Schools Superintendent Marcus Foster and was involved in a shootout with Los Angeles police officers that killed five SLA members. I remember watching that shootout on television as it happened and for days after it happened.
Only one former member of the former Symbionese Liberation Army remains in prison. This morning just after midnight the next to the last incarcerated member left the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla. Sara Jane Olson, age 62, will serve her year long parole in Minnesota.
People here are furious because they think Olson should remain in California for the year of her parole. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department are especially furious.
"I think today is a slap in the face of California law enforcement and (other) law enforcement," Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul Weber said in an interview broadcast throughout the day.
Sara Jane Olson, once known as Kathleen Soliah, apparently planned to blow up a police car and even placed a pipe bomb under the vehicle. So I suppose it's understandable that law enforcement still has feelings.
For twenty-four years Kathleen Soliah was a fugitive. Eventually she settled in Minnesota, changed her name to Sara Jane Olson, and became a soccer mom. She married Dr. Gerald "Fred" Peterson and gave birth to three daughters. She volunteered in social causes and acted in community theater. Her home was a frequent site of dinner parties.
Only when the television show "America's Most Wanted" devoted some air time to Kathleen Soliah did things fall to pieces. She was arrested in 1999 while driving her soccer mom, community volunteer mini van.
Sara Jane Olson has served her time. Other people once incarcerated in California serve their parole time in other states. This woman wants to go home and her family wants her home.
Here, then, is my question.
Why are people so angry that a convicted 'terrorist' will serve a one year probation out of state?
If she's that dangerous, wouldn't California be best served by sending her to Minnesota?
Those were strange times back then when a newspaper heiress robbed a bank.
Come to think of it, these are pretty strange times, too.