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Angela DeAngelis "General Gelina" Atwood (February 6, 1949 – May 17, 1974) was a founding member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), an American terrorist group which kidnapped Patricia Hearst and robbed banks. She died with five other SLA members in a nationally televised shootout with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Angela Atwood
Born(1949-02-06)February 6, 1949
DiedMay 17, 1974(1974-05-17) (aged 25)
Los Angeles, United States
Other namesAngel, General Gelina, Anne Lindberg
MovementSymbionese Liberation Army

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Angela DeAngelis grew up in the small New Jersey suburb of North Haledon near Paterson, New Jersey. The daughter of a local Teamsters official, DeAngelis was active in many student leadership groups and was captain of the cheerleading squad. She starred in many school musicals and quietly tutored and befriended classmates others ignored. She was voted Most School Spirit by her peers while attending Manchester Regional High School.[1] At the Indiana University she met leftwing activist, theatre student and future husband Gary Atwood. While at school she sang in the Kappa Pickers (a musical group in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority) with Jane Pauley, was involved in theater,[2] and majored in education.[citation needed] She helped fellow theater student Kevin Kline organize and run a guerrilla theatre group in town. She married Gary Atwood while still an undergraduate, and they befriended William Harris, another Indiana University actor, and his wife Emily Harris.[2] She graduated in 1970 and began student teaching in Indianapolis.[citation needed]

Symbionese Liberation ArmyEdit

The Atwoods moved to San Francisco, where Angela became friends with Kathleen Soliah (now known as Sara Jane Olson). The two women acted together in a local production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and Angela got Kathy a job waiting tables. They quit the job together when the manager told them to wear revealing outfits to build up the lunch crowd.[3] Angela and Gary Atwood separated in June 1973. Atwood moved in with the Harrises in early December 1973.[4] She then joined the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) along with the Harrises. She was described as well dressed, with a preference for hippie attire, particularly Indian silk shirts and batik. Atwood liked such feminine accessories as earrings, jewelry, and rings. A friend described her as "the prima donna of the whole thing", and likened her to the woman depicted by Bob Dylan in "Just Like A Woman".[5]

Atwood (speaking as "Gelina") was often the voice of the SLA, in the form of tape-recorded press releases. In Patricia Hearst's account of her time with the SLA, she writes that Gelina would spend hours, and sometimes days, perfecting communiques.[6]

SLA members held an anti-bourgeois ideology of popular rule partly based on the idea that the most oppressed members of society, who were often blacks, must be the ones to lead a revolution against The Establishment. Patty Hearst testified that Atwood, William Harris, and Nancy Ling Perry were given to bemoaning their white skin and wishing they were black. According to Hearst's testimony, SLA members also envied persons like their black leader Field Marshal Cinque (pronounced sin-q) (Donald DeFreeze), who had served time in prison.[7] This partly explained their allegiance to Cinque. Atwood, however, many times disagreed with his directives, as when she argued against his issuing a death warrant for two imprisoned SLA members.[8]

Atwood was assigned the task of surveillance in the potential kidnapping of John E. Countryman, former chairman of the board of Del Monte Corporation. The surveillance plan gave Countryman's age as 70. Atwood was apparently unaware that Mr. Countryman had died in July 1972 at the age of 69.[9]

Atwood used the name Anne Lindberg when she visited inmate James Harold ("Doc") Holiday on January 10, 1974. This encounter alerted Holiday to the capture of Remiro and Russ Little, who were both linked through strong circumstantial evidence to the murder of Marcus Foster, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, California. They were arrested following a shootout with policemen in Concord, California. Quickly after Atwood's approach of Holiday, she fled the Oakland, California home with the Harrises. They left behind clothes, a stereo, personal papers, and three pistol boxes.[10]

Prominent role in Hearst kidnappingEdit

In her trial for armed robbery Patricia Campbell Hearst testified that she was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California apartment by Atwood, Donald DeFreeze, and William Harris, on the night of February 4, 1974.[11]

Hearst's insistence that she was forced by the SLA to make a series of self-incriminating statements was supported by Dr. Margaret Thaler-Singer, a UC-Berkeley clinical psychologist. As an expert on speech patterns who studied the tapes released by the SLA, Thaler-Singer stated that the speech patterns did not fit the style of Hearst. Rather they resembled the styles of Atwood and Emily Harris.[12]

Atwood's voice is heard on a taped message of March 9, 1974, used in negotiations with Randolph Hearst for the return of Patty Hearst. Atwood assumed the voice of a black woman and said, "The dream - and indeed it is a dream - of [many on the Left] is that the enemy corporate state will willingly give the stolen riches of the earth back to the people and that this will be accomplished through compromising talk and empty words . . . to this, our bullets scream loudly. The enemy's bloodthirsty greed will be destroyed by the growing spirit of the people and their thirst for freedom. We call upon the people to judge for themselves whether our tactics of waging struggle are correct or incorrect in fighting the enemy by any means necessary."[13]

Prosecution witness Dr. Joel Fort identified Atwood, Perry, and Willie Wolfe as the SLA members Hearst developed the "most affectionate bonds" with.[14]

Death in Los Angeles safehouse shootoutEdit

Atwood, along with five other founding members of the SLA, including Donald DeFreeze, was killed in Los Angeles on May 17, 1974, in a shootout with police that was broadcast live on television. Atwood died of burns and smoke inhalation when the SLA's safehouse caught fire during the gun battle and burned to the ground.[15] It was Atwood's death that prompted Kathleen Soliah to hold a memorial service for her and the other deceased members of the SLA; Soliah and a few others became part of the "second team", giving the SLA life for about two more years.[16][17]

EulogyEdit

Atwood was eulogized by the Reverend Joseph Citro, a 25-year-old priest, at her funeral mass in Prospect Park, New Jersey on May 26, 1974. They grew up blocks from each other and knew each other through the local Catholic Youth Organization. In an interview the day after the mass, Citro stated that "we must enable these young people to make basic changes in society or more girls like Angela will have to suffer."[1][17] Atwood is buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa, New Jersey.

SourcesEdit

  1. ^ a b Andelman, David A. "Priest Explains Eulogy of Slain S.L.A. Woman." The New York Times. May 27, 1974, p. 37.
  2. ^ a b Toobin 2016, pp. 76-78.
  3. ^ Haga, Chuck (March 21, 2008). "June 27, 1999: The life and times of Sara Jane Olson". Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  4. ^ McClellan 1977, p. 151.
  5. ^ McClellan 1977, pp. 151-152.
  6. ^ Hearst 1982, p. 94.
  7. ^ The Many Trials of Patty Hearst, Los Angeles Times, 27 February 1976, pg. OC_C1.
  8. ^ Hearst 1982, p. 128.
  9. ^ McClellan 1977, p. 171.
  10. ^ McClellan 1977, pp. 167-168.
  11. ^ McClellan 1977, p. 197.
  12. ^ Hearst Defense Rests After Losing Bid For Dismissal, Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1976, pg. B1.
  13. ^ Goldin, Greg (January 23, 2002). "Judging the SLA". LA Weekly. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  14. ^ Miss Hearst Called 'Queen of SLA', Voluntary Member, Los Angeles Times, March 9, 1976, pg. B1.
  15. ^ Toobin 2006, pp. 203-208.
  16. ^ Carney, Thomas. "The Fugitive". Los Angeles Magazine. No. January 2000. p. 149. Retrieved January 17, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Taylor, Michael. "Death to the Fascist Insect: Looking Back 40 Years, Does the SLA Make Any More Sense?". No. Fall 2014. California magazine. Retrieved January 17, 2018.

ReferencesEdit

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