SLA Assassinates Marcus Foster
By Patrick Mondout
At approximately 7:00 p.m. on the election night of November 6, 1973, Dr.
Marcus Foster, the popular African-American Superintendent of Schools
for Oakland, was shot several times and his assistant Robert Blackburn was
shot once as they walked from Foster's office to his car. The bullets used
to shot Foster were laced with cyanide. Foster apparently died instantly
while Blackburn, who was hit with a single shotgun blast, survived but was
in serious condition.
Members of the previously unknown group calling itself the Symbionese
Liberation Army immediately claimed responsibility in a
"communiqué" released to Berkeley radio station KTFA. (The
group would continue to taunt the police via such messages over the coming
18 months.) The communiqué claimed Foster had be tried by a
"people's court" and ordered executed by cyanide bullets. As
that last bit of information was only known to the assailants at the time,
officials took it seriously. (At first, the police said they had released
this info but the coroner corrected them since he had not yet made that
The communiqué also announced that it was issuing "shoot on
site" orders for other Oakland educators, though it rescinded the
order 11 days later when the group claimed that the educators had obeyed
their order. The Oakland Tribune published an interview with semanticist
and former president of the University of San Francisco Dr. S.I. Hayakawa,
who pronounced the communiqués to be the work of, "a high-grade
intellect, devoted to revolutionary ideology."
The cyanide, it was later reveal, was stolen by early SLA member Robyn
Sue Steiner. Steiner's boyfriend, Russell Little, was
later arrested and charged with Foster's murder.
Hearst, who was later abducted
by the SLA, later testified that Bill
& Emily Harris told her that Nancy
Ling Perry and Patricia
Soltysik had shot Foster while Donald
DeFreeze shot Blackburn. She also claimed that the Harrises told her
that Russell Little and Joe Remiro were nearby in a "backup"
- Shana Alexander, Anyone's
Daughter: The Times and Trials of Patricia Hearst,
- Carolyn Anspacher & the San Francisco Chronicle, The
Trial of Patty Hearst, Great Fidelity Press, 1976.
- Marilyn Baker, Exclusive!:
the inside story of Patricia Hearst and the SLA, Macmillan
- Mary F. Beal, Safe
House: A Casebook Study of Revolutionary Feminism in the 1970's,
Northwest Matrix, 1976.
- Jerry Belcher & Don West, Patty/Tania,
Pyramid Books, 1975
- David Boulton, The
Making Of Tania Hearst, Bergenfield, N.J., U.S.A.: New American
- John Bryan, This
Soldier Still At War, (on Joe Remiro) Harcourt Brace Jovanovich,
- Patty Hearst with Alvin Moscow, Patty
Hearst: Her Own Story, New York: Avon, 1982. This was the title
after the movie came out. Original title: Every Secret Thing.
- Sharon D. Hendry, Soliah:
The Sara Jane Olson Story, Cable Publishing, 2002.
- Janey Jimenez (U.S. Marshal who escorted Hearst between prison and the
court during the trial) with Ted Berkman, My
Prisoner, Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1977.
- Jean Brown Kinney, An
American journey: The short life of Willy Wolfe, Simon and Schuster,
- Vin McLellan, Paul Avery, The
voices of guns: The definitive and dramatic story of the twenty-two-month
career of the Symbionese Liberation Army, one of the most bizarre chapters
in the history of the American Left, Putnam, 1977.
- John Pascal, The
Strange Case of Patty Hearst, New American Library, 1974.
- Findley & Craven Payne, Life
and Death of the SLA, Ballantine, 1976.
- Robert Brainard Pearsall, Symbionese
Liberation Army: Documents and Communications, Rodopi, 1974
- Fred Soltysik, In
Search of a Sister 1976.
- Steven Weed, with Scott Swanton. My
Search for Patty Hearst, New York: Warner, 1976. Weed was Hearst's
boyfriend at the time of the kidnapping. That was the end of their
- Video: Patty
Hearst, based on Every Secret Thing, directed by Paul
- Video: The Ordeal of Patty Hearst (1979) (TV)
- Video: Patty Hearst: The E! True Hollywood Story (2000) (TV)
- Video: Neverland:
The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army aka Guerrilla:
The Taking of Patty Hearst, Directed by Robert Stone, 2004,