CRIME: The S.LA. Verdict

The day after Oakland, Calif., School Superintendent Marcus Foster was gunned down on the street in November 1973, a newspaper and local radio station received notes from something enigmatically called the Symbionese Liberation Army, which claimed credit for the killing. The S.L. A. blamed Foster, an imaginative and progressive black educator, for trying to establish what it called a repressive security system in the Oakland schools.

It was not until three months later that the S.L.A. achieved its bizarre notoriety by kidnaping Patricia Hearst, who became a convert and fellow fugitive. Meanwhile,...

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