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"The Symbionese Liberation Army" Topic

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1,570 hits since 21 Dec 2015
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Banned for Hating Trolls Inactive Member21 Dec 2015 12:57 p.m. PST

I've long felt that high intensity historical police shoot-outs can make for good skirmish wargame scenarios. It's much akin to how Old West gamers mine historical gunfights for game material. To date I've run scenarios for a number of Depression era shoot-outs with some success. I ran a game based on the 1932 gun battle in Joplin Missouri involving Bonnie and Clyde's gang at a convention back in the late '90s (three sessions. The Barrow Gang won twice and the Police once) and I've also had an interesting scenario based on the "Battle of Barrington" in which George "baby face" Nelson was killed. But I've never done anything more recent than that.

But I recently read a fascinating book on the various leftist terrorist organizations active in the 1970s and came across the gun battle between the Symbionese Liberation Army and the LAPD in 1974. (The title is "Days of Rage" if anyone cares. It was written by the author who also wrote the excellent "Public Enemies, which is about the Depression era outlaws. This book is of similar quality) Given the right rules set (one that would reflect the amazingly inept marksmanship of the SLA and the general "spray and pray" style on both sides) I think that this event might make for a decent skirmish wargame.

So does anyone out there make armed figures (preferably with M1 Carbines or other long arms) in 1970s dress? So-called "Guerilla Chic" (ie berets, bomber jackets, boots, etc) would be best. But anything distinctively '70s would work. Also how would you do SWAT team dress of the era? A Google Image search of the topic gives all sorts of good source material as to how the Cops involved in the fight dressed for those who are not familiar.

Thoughts on the scenario? Possible figure sources?

Rifleman1965 Inactive Member21 Dec 2015 1:48 p.m. PST

I saw a special on tv about that shoot out on history channel. A cop who was there said the terrorists had m-2 carbines, and a bar!

Banned for Hating Trolls Inactive Member21 Dec 2015 2:59 p.m. PST

Off hand, I would guess it was this video you saw:

YouTube link

It's not great, but it's not terrible. It does suffer from the sensationalist tone of most US produced documentaries. But's it's ok, I suppose.

*Marty puts on his "gun geek" hat for a moment* ;-)
Anyway, that's partially correct. The SLA had a bunch of guns and a ton of ammo. They had several Sporting versions of the M1 carbine, some full sized and some the short barreled "pistol" versions. All of those recovered had been illegally modified to shoot full auto.



Note the top rifle with the stock burned away by the fire. I've seen photos of several others that they recovered from the house. The lower rifle looks to be a commercial M1 carbine with a folding stock that has had the barrel cut down to a length short of the 16" minimum mandated by the National Firearms Act of 1934.

The "Browning Automatic Rifle" that they reference in the video was not the military BAR you're thinking of. The SLA had at least one example of the semi-automatic hunting rifle of the same name.


Did I mention I'm a gun geek? ;-)

Prince Rupert of the Rhine21 Dec 2015 3:30 p.m. PST

Maybe the Gezzers range by Killer B games might have a few figures that would work? you might want to work on the guns.





Banned for Hating Trolls Inactive Member21 Dec 2015 3:50 p.m. PST

Excellent find.
I recall seeing those at some time in the past, but had forgotten what the name of the range was and who made it. A couple of those would work quite well. The last photo you linked would made a good Donald Defreeze (aka "General Field Marshal Cinque"….yes, seriously) with a little trimming on the rifle as you said.

The big stumbling block is getting correct looking armed women. Recall four of the terrorists who got killed that day were women.


This guy might pass as female with a little work.

hocklermp521 Dec 2015 5:16 p.m. PST

Another scenario that comes to mind is Police vs "MOVE" in Philadelphia PA where the police not only used machine guns but dropped an IED from a helicopter. The MOVE house was a row house and heavily fortified complete with a rooftop bunker made of railroad ties. Epic overkill by the police which resulted in burning down the neighborhood. Preliminary run ins between MOVE and the Law could also be gamed.

Another scenario would be the Branch Davidian Cult in Waco, TX circa early 1990s. I lived in Houston at the time and watched it straight through live on TV from the fiasco of the ATF raid to the bitter end when the FBI, using a borrowed US Army combat engineer vehicle, smashed a hole in the compound wall to pump in tear gas to drive the people out. The Branch Davidians did what they threatened to do and set fire to the place. It was a very windy day and that large building burnt down in about 20 minutes. Almost everyone died. Timothy McVeigh and company blew up the Murragh Building in Oklahoma City to avenge the Waco disaster.

Coelacanth193821 Dec 2015 6:28 p.m. PST

I remember watching the shoot out in LA on TV as a kid!
I think every cop in California was down there blasting away at that house. And there was this fool reporter who kept creeping closer and closer to the house, ducking behind cars, until the cops told hm to fall back. And then the house was on fire and the cops were set and ready to kill anybody who came out (none did of course).
The SLA were villains, but the LAPD would've called in a napalm strike if they had the authority,

Banned for Hating Trolls Inactive Member21 Dec 2015 6:28 p.m. PST

I actually have a personal connection to the Waco fiasco, hocklermp5. When the original ill-considered AFT raid went south and they pulled back and formed a perimeter they sent out a call for help from local law enforcement agencies to man road blocks etc. At the time I was working at a prison in Gatesville, which is a little over 40 miles from Waco. So several staff from our unit wound up being sent. I manned a roadblock turning away traffic (mostly media folks) for several hours that afternoon until we were relieved by State troopers. Eventually of course the FBI HRT guys arrived on scene and local law enforcement pretty much stood down for the remainder of the incident.

Personally I don't think it's a suitable or tasteful subject for gaming.

Deleted by Moderator


And then the house was on fire and the cops were set and ready to kill anybody who came out (none did of course).

Actually they did.
Two of the terrorists made an attempt to get out from under the house after the fire started. They came out shooting and both were killed. One was recovered on the sidewalk and the other body was dragged back into the crawl space by her fellows.

Later the apologists for the SLA claimed that they were trying to come out unarmed and were murdered by the police. But they would say that, wouldn't they?

Banned for Hating Trolls Inactive Member21 Dec 2015 7:34 p.m. PST

Thanks to Bill Armintrout or whichever staffer removed the tasteless comment.

I just wish they were so quick to take action on other offences… ;-)

Ah well.
Back to the subject at hand.

hocklermp521 Dec 2015 9:01 p.m. PST

Martin…..I should have been clearer in my post about gaming Waco. Having watched the entire awful thing from the botched ATF raid to the total mishandling of the siege by the FBI with its nightmarish ending I, along with numerous others, saw many ways the situation could have been resolved by those better trained to handle such matters. It was essentially a hostage situation where the majority of the Branch Davidians were trapped by an armed minority of fanatics. HRT was developed to resolve hostage situations but mishandled WACO the same as Ruby Ridge. If I "gamed" Waco it would be a matter of at various crisis points having a choice of actions and once chosen follow through with the consequences of that choice. A learning exercise I sincerely hope authorities have done over and over so nothing as God awful happens again. End game would be nobody dies. When the local Sheriff had to "arrest" David Koresh he would call him on the phone and ask him to come in. He always did and the issue at hand was always resolved peacefully. Federal authorities over-reacted from the moment they got paranoid over the stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by the cult. From that beginning all else followed, escalating rapidly until spiraling out of control to the point of madness. The scenario is a classic study of command failure and police powers trying to be not just a paramilitary but a veritable Delta Force. You learn a great deal more from your failures because they are so painful.

MOVE was much the same. There were many ways that could have been resolved without burning down the neighborhood and killing everything that ran out of the flames including women and children. Police command made terrible decisions and lost control of the situation from the very beginning. Again, "gaming" MOVE would be an exercise in decision making and following up with the consequences of each decision. End game resolving the matter with no one dying or taking down the armed fanatics who were, in effect, holding women and children hostage.

We have all been cursed to have lived, as the Chinese curse puts it so well, in interesting times. We ignore events like Waco and MOVE at our peril. In truth, what harm is done by an earnest search to find a better way to handle a Waco or MOVE situation? I hope from the bottom of my heart that Federal authorities have "gamed" these events over and over in order to find better ways of resolving them or keeping them from happening all together.

Inkpaduta Inactive Member22 Dec 2015 9:15 a.m. PST

Foundry has a line of gangs that I think would work for what you are looking for.

TMPWargamerabbit25 Dec 2015 3:21 p.m. PST

Another scenario. Toss in the discussion the North Hollywood bank robbery shootout or "Battle of North Hollywood" by some which became a city wide LA TAC alert… bullets flying in all directions, gun stores, media coverage driving for cover,


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