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  Berkeley, circa 1973
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On February 4, 1974, members of a group calling themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army (S.L.A.) burst into Patricia Hearst and Steven Weed's Berkeley apartment, beating Weed and seizing his fiancé.

What had begun as an idea for a prisoner swap ended up a media circus and one of the most perplexing and bizarre episodes of the 1970s -- teenage heiress Hearst's 20-month experience with the S.L.A.

In this book excerpt, Weed describes Berkeley of that era as a churning political stew of radical ideas, political striving, and disillusionment.

The radical leaders of the Sixties... were no longer in Berkeley... As for the masses of angry students that once gathered around the loudspeakers, raising their fists in militant salutes, many were now into communal living up-country, displaying their handmade hookas down on Telegraph, meditating on the teachings of Zen, Jesus Christ, or Maharaj Ji, holding down their straight jobs or whatever -- just doing their thing.

But there was something else going on, a dark underside to the Berkeley scene that Patty and I were not aware of, or at least a side that was convenient to ignore. There were the latecomers -- the embittered Vietnam vets, the angry young women, the drifters and dropouts who had come from all over because they had heard that Berkeley was the place to get your head together and work for the revolution, "funky Berkeley revolution," as Eldridge Cleaver had called it. "Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people," he had said. But after swatting flies in Algeria for two years, Cleaver had moved to Paris, and now he wanted to come home again... there was little talk of armed struggle, fighting in the streets, and revolution. Now it was "progressive legislation," food programs, lecture circuits, and [Bobby] Seale for mayor. To those who had come to Berkeley to struggle and fight, this was counterrevolutionary. It was copping out, compromising with the pigs. The time had come for action, not talk...

Excerpt from Weed, Steven, with Scott Swanton. My Search for Patty Hearst. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1976, pp. 6-7.



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