Radical Chic: The Golden Years

The L.A. Times reports that “Convicted killer George Wright, who escaped prison in 1970 and joined a black nationalist group that hijacked a plane two years later, is arrested in Portugal without incident,” at age 68:


It marked the apparent end of a life on the lam whose chapters hark back to an era when hijackings were a common tool of militants, when it was possible to board a plane without being patted down or putting your carry-on through X-ray machines, and when $1 million was enough to make five hijackers happy.

In July 1972, when the three men and two women of the Black Liberation Army commandeered the flight from Detroit to Miami, $1 million was the most ever paid for the release of airplane hostages. The $50 and $100 bills were stuffed into a briefcase, which was tied to the end of a rope dangling out the jet window at the Miami airport. After it was hoisted inside and all of the approximately 90 passengers were freed, the Delta DC-8 made its way to Algeria.

Algerian officials seized the plane and the money and returned them to the United States, but the hijackers were let go. Several years later, four were captured in France, but the fifth — who had used the name Larry Burgess but whom FBI agents at the time identified as George Wright — remained missing.

The FBI said Wright had joined up with the Black Liberation Army after fleeing prison and moving to Detroit. In subsequent years, the BLA would be accused in a number of violent crimes and sometimes worked with members of the Weather Underground, another radical group.


Wikipedia, which knows all, and sometimes gets it right, says that the BLA was “Composed largely of former Black Panthers.” The Black Panthers and their later offshoots and the Weathermen teamed up together? Who knew?

Part I:

Part II:

(Via Seedubya on Twitter.)


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