On April 3, 1974, after 59 days in captivity, 20-year-old Patty Hearst surprised the world by proclaiming her allegiance to her kidnappers. Announcing she'd taken the name "Tania," her recorded message said:
I have been given the choice of one: being released in a safe area, or two: joining the forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army and fighting for my freedom and the freedom of all oppressed people. I have chosen to stay and fight.
Her parents claimed she had been brainwashed.
Less than two weeks later, a security camera at the Hibernia Bank captured a gun-toting Hearst participating in an S.L.A. bank heist. Then, on May 16, Hearst was sitting alone in a Volkswagen, parked outside a store waiting for her kidnappers, S.L.A. members Bill and Emily Harris. When she saw a scuffle between Bill Harris and a clerk, she shot 27 .30-caliber bullets into the storefront. All three got away.
Journalist Tim Findley says, "Part of the dilemma of understanding Patricia Hearst... is that there are so many obvious opportunities she had to simply walk down the street, hail a cab, get in a car, call her father, call me, anybody, and it was over. She never did."
Was Patty Hearst an unwilling victim, either brainwashed or acting the part of a revolutionary in the interest of self-preservation? Or was she a full participant in the S.L.A.'s activities?