Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) member Wendy Yoshimura was born on January 17, 1943 at the Manzanar Internment Camp for Japanese Americans, where her parents were incarcerated during World War II. After the war, the Yoshimura family relocated to the Japanese island of Etajima, where her father was employed by the Allied Occupation forces. The family returned to the United States when Wendy was 13 years old. In 1969 she graduated from the California College of Arts and Crafts.
Yoshimura thereafter became involved with a radical group called the Revolutionary Army, which was founded by her boyfriend Willie Brandt. In 1972, police discovered a pipe bomb, similar explosives in mid-construction, a machine gun, and numerous other weapons in a garage that Yoshimura had rented under an assumed name. Yoshimura's fingerprints were found on the aforementioned items, as well as on a book about forming an urban guerrilla unit, and on an Army training manual about rifles and rocket launchers. Police also found notes and letters discussing plans to bomb targets on the UC Berkeley campus, and to kidnap or assassinate former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. Brandt and two accomplices were arrested and subsequently convicted for these conspiracies, but Yoshimura evaded police and lived under an alias in New Jersey until 1974.
In May of that year, SLA members William Harris, Emily Harris, and Patty Hearst relocated, with the help of radical sports writer and activist Jack Scott, to rural Pennsylvania after six of their comrades had been killed in a shootout with Los Angeles police. Scott arranged for Yoshimura to join the trio and handle their shopping and other public transactions. It was during this period that Yoshimura and her friend Kathleen Soliah formally joined the SLA.
Yoshimura was arrested in 1975 along with the Harrises and Patty Hearst. She was convicted of the 1972 weapons and explosives charges, and she served six months in state prison.
In 1990 Yoshimura was granted limited immunity to testify in a grand jury investigation of the SLA's role in a 1975 California bank robbery in which a 42-year-old nurse named Myrna Opsahl was killed. The prosecutor showed Yoshimura photographs of Opsahl's blood on the bank floor hoping "to jar her emotionally, to appeal to a higher sense within her, some sympathy for this poor woman who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.'' But in her testimony, Yoshimura denied having known that she was participating in a bank robbery and claimed that she could not remember anyone involved other than Hearst. The judge cited her for contempt of court.
Today Yoshimura is a watercolor artst and painting instructor living in Oakland, California.