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SLA: Wendy Yoshimura

By Wikipedia

Wendy Masako Yoshimura is a watercolor artist living in Oakland, California. She used to be a terrorist with both the Revolutionary Army and the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). She was born in 1943 at the Manzanar Internment Camp for Japanese Americans where her American-born parents were incarcerated.

After the war the Yoshimura family moved to Eta Jima, a small island off the coast of Hiroshima, where her father worked for the Allied Occupation forces. The family returned to the US when Yoshimura was 13 years old. She graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in 1969.

Yoshimura left California in 1972 to avoid arrest on weapons charges related to the so-called "Revolutionary Army," a radical group founded by her boyfriend Willie Brandt and Paul Rubenstein along with Michael Bortin. She lived under an alias in New Jersey until 1974.

That year, the three surviving members of the Berkeley terrorist group Symbionese Liberation Army (Bill Harris, Emily Harris, and Patty Hearst) relocated to rural Pennsylvania after six of their comrades died in a shootout with Los Angeles police. Radial sports activist/writer Jack Scott, who had helped the high-profile terrorists make their way east, arranged for Yoshimura to soon join them and handle shopping and other public transactions. (Yoshimura's fingers prints were later discovered there, leading indirectly to the arrest of herself and Hearst the next year.)

After two months, Yoshimura returned alone to California. Some weeks later, Hearst and the Harrises also slipped back into the state. When newspaper headlines tied Yoshimura to the SLA, she reunited with the group at its new hideout in Sacramento, California.

On April 21, 1975 Yoshimura drove one of the two getaway cars at the Carmichael Bank robbery that left one customer dead. She later received immunity in the case for testimony she never actually had to give (five others received lengthy sentences in 2003).

In September, 1975, Yoshimura was arrested in San Francisco with Patty Hearst. She testified on her own behalf, which opened her up to cross examination (she could have simply kept her trap shut). Then the SLA terrorist claimed that "moral principles" prevented her testifying about those who had aided her. Yet she refused to invoke the Fifth Amendment. The judge cited her for contempt several times before eventually striking her testimony from the record.

Among the items entered into evidence as having come from the garage she admitted to having rented under a false name were communiqués taking responsibility for a bombing, a large quantity of explosives and weapons, and more than 20 pictures of Robert S. McNamara's Aspen, Colorado residence.

After a seven week trial and six days of deliberations, the jury found her guilty on January 20, 1977 of the 1972 weapons charges and she was sentenced to from one to fifteen years. She began serving her sentence after the appeals process ended on July 17, 1979 and was paroled on August 25, 1980.

Yoshimura's watercolors are frequently displayed in Bay Area galleries, exhibitions, and arts festivals. She is a member of the Asian American Woman Artists Association and teaches watercolor technique at the Japanese Community Center of Northern California in San Francisco.

Susan Choi wrote a "fictionalized" account of her life called American Woman.




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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from this Wikipedia article, which is probably more up to date than ours (retrieved August 12, 2005).

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