Breakthrough: Media Moments That Changed The World - The Story of Patty Hearst

Jack Murray of tells George how a bank robbery shocked the world, but mainly because of who was perpetrating it


On the 15th April 1974 the quiet routine of every day life was broken in the Sunset District of San Francisco. Just before 10am a number of people entered the local bank, armed with guns. They were members of the SLA, the Symbionese Liberation Army, small group of militant revolutionaries committed to the fight against fascism.

During their five minutes in the bank the group had managed to rob over $10,000 and shoot two people. Despite a police perimeter they escaped in a waiting getaway car.

But it wasn’t the armed robbery itself that really shocked Americans and onlookers around the world, instead it was one of the perpetrators.

Grainy CCTV footage showed Patricia Hearst brandishing a semi-automatic M1 carbine assault rifle and shouting commands at bank employees and civilians.

Patricia Hearst was a 19 year old American newspaper heiress, the grandaughter of William Randolph Hearst a newspaper tycoon and multi-millionaire. She had been kidnapped by the SLA two months previously.

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