6 February 1949|
North Haledon, New Jersey
|Died||17 May 1974
Los Angeles, U.S.
|Other names||Angel, General Gelina, Anne Lindberg|
|Movement||Symbionese Liberation Army|
Angela DeAngelis "General Gelina" Atwood (6 February 1949 – 17 May 1974) was a founding member of the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), an American revolutionary group.
Angela DeAngelis grew up in the small New Jersey suburb of North Haledon near Paterson, New Jersey. The daughter of a local Teamsters official, DeAngelis was active in many student leadership groups and was captain of the cheerleading squad. She starred in many school musicals and quietly tutored and befriended classmates others ignored. She was voted Most School Spirit by her peers while attending Manchester Regional High School. At Indiana University she met leftwing activist and future husband Gary Atwood. While at school she befriended William Harris and Emily Harris, sang in the Pickers (a musical group in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, with former NBC anchor Jane Pauley), was involved in theater, and majored in education. She graduated in 1970 and began student teaching in Indianapolis.
Symbionese Liberation Army
The Atwoods moved to San Francisco, where Angela became friends with Kathleen Soliah (now known as Sara Jane Olson). The two women acted together in a local production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. Angela and Gary Atwood separated in June 1973. Atwood moved in with the Harrises in early December 1973. She then joined the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) along with the Harris and her She was described as well dressed, with a preference for hippie attire, particularly Indian silk shirts and batik. Atwood liked such feminine accessories as earrings, jewelry, and rings. A friend described her as "the prima donna of the whole thing". This person likened Atwood to the woman depicted by Bob Dylan in "Just Like A Woman".
Atwood (speaking as "Gelina") was often the voice of the SLA, in the form of tape-recorded press releases. In Patricia Hearst's account of her time with the SLA, she writes that Gina would spend hours, and sometimes days, perfecting communiques.
SLA members held an anti-bourgeois ideology of popular rule partly based on the idea that the most oppressed members of society, who were often blacks, must be the ones to lead a revolution against The Establishment. This partly explained their allegiance to their black leader Field Marshal Cinque (pronounced sin-q), born Donald DeFreeze. Atwood, however, many times disagreed with his directives, as when she argued against his issuing a death warrant for two imprisoned S.L.A. members.
Atwood was assigned the task of surveillance in the potential kidnapping of John E. Countryman, formerly Chairman of the Board of Del Monte Corporation. The surveillance plan gave Countryman's age as 70 years. Atwood was apparently unaware that the late Mr. Countryman had died (July 1972) at the age of 69.
Atwood used the name Anne Lindberg when she visited inmate James Harold (Doc) Holiday on 10 January 1974. This encounter alerted Holiday to the capture of Remiro and Russ Little, who were both linked through strong circumstantial evidence to the murder of Marcus Foster, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District in Oakland, California. They were arrested following a shootout with policemen in Concord, California. Quickly after Atwood's approach of Holiday, she fled the Oakland, California home with the Harrises. They left behind clothes, a stereo, personal papers, and three pistol boxes.
Prominent role in Hearst kidnapping
In her trial for armed robbery Patricia Campbell Hearst testified that she was kidnapped from her Berkeley, California apartment by Atwood, Donald DeFreeze, and William Harris, on the night of 4 February 1974.
Hearst's insistence that she was forced by the SLA to make a series of self-incriminating statements was supported by Dr. Margaret Thaler-Singer, a UC-Berkeley clinical psychologist. As an expert on speech patterns who studied the tapes released by the SLA, Thaler-Singer stated that the speech patterns did not fit the style of Hearst. Rather they resembled the styles of Atwood and Emily Harris.
Atwood's voice is heard on a taped message of 9 March 1974, used in negotiations with Randolph Hearst for the return of Patty Hearst. Atwood assumed the voice of a black woman and said, "The dream - and indeed it is a dream - of [many on the Left] is that the enemy corporate state will willingly give the stolen riches of the earth back to the people and that this will be accomplished through compromising talk and empty words . . . to this, our bullets scream loudly. The enemy's bloodthirsty greed will be destroyed by the growing spirit of the people and their thirst for freedom. We call upon the people to judge for themselves whether our tactics of waging struggle are correct or incorrect in fighting the enemy by any means necessary."
Patty Hearst testified that Atwood, William Harris, and Nancy Ling Perry were given to bemoaning their white skin and wishing they were black. SLA members also envied persons, like DeFreeze, who had served time in prison.
Prosecution witness Dr. Joel Fort, a San Francisco, California physician and criminologist identified Atwood, Perry, and Willie Wolfe as the SLA members Hearst developed the most affectionate bonds for. Fort believed Hearst became a voluntary member of the SLA by March 1, 1974.
Death in Los Angeles safehouse shootout
Atwood, along with five other founding members of the SLA, including Donald DeFreeze, were killed in Los Angeles, on May 17, 1974, in a shootout with police. Atwood was burned to death when the SLA's safehouse caught fire during the gun battle, probably due to an exploding tear gas grenade. It was Atwood's death that prompted Soliah to hold a memorial service for her and other members of the SLA, which ultimately drew Soliah and a few others into the group, giving the SLA life for two more years.
Atwood was eulogized by the Reverend Joseph Citro, a 25-year-old priest, in a funeral mass in Prospect Park, New Jersey on 26 May 1974. Citro grew up several blocks from Atwood between Prospect Park, New Jersey and Haledon. In an interview the day after the mass, Citro stated that "we must enable these young people to make basic changes in society or more girls like Angela will have to suffer".
- Andelman, David A. "Priest Explains Eulogy of Slain S.L.A. Woman." New York Times. May 27, 1974, p. 37.
- Toobin, Jeffrey (2016). American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0385536714.
- The Voices of Guns, Vin McClellan and Paul Avery, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977, pg. 151.
- The Voices of Guns, Vin McClellan and Paul Avery, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977, pp. 151–152.
- Patricia Campbell Hearst with Alvin Moscow Every Secret Thing Doubleday, 1982, p. 94 and infra
- (Hearst, 1982, p. 128)
- The Voices of Guns, Vin McClellan and Paul Avery, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977, pg. 171.
- The Voices of Guns, Vin McClellan and Paul Avery, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977, pp. 167 - 168.
- The Voices of Guns, Vin McClellan and Paul Avery, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1977, p. 197.
- Hearst Defense Rests After Losing Bid For Dismissal, Los Angeles Times, March 2, 1976, pg. B1.
- The Many Trials of Patty Hearst, Los Angeles Times, 27 February 1976, pg. OC_C1.
- Miss Hearst Called 'Queen of SLA', Voluntary Member, Los Angeles Times, 9 March 1976, pg. B1.