Camilla “Gabi” Hall was born on March 24, 1945 in St. Peter, Minnesota. She was the daughter of a Lutheran minister, and all three of her siblings died in childhood. In 1952 the Hall family moved to what is now the East African country of Tanzania, where the parents were employed as schoolteachers and mission workers. The family returned to Minnesota in 1954, and Hall graduated from Washburn High School in Minneapolis in 1963. After one year at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, she transferred to the University of Minnesota and received a bachelor’s degree there in 1967.
Following college, Hall moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where she took a job as a social worker and supported the 1968 presidential campaign of Democrat Eugene McCarthy. She also became active in the peace movement and participated in the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.
After moving to Topanga, California in November 1969, and then to West Los Angeles in March 1970, Hall finally settled in Berkeley, California in February 1971. In May of that year, she began a long, on-again, off-again lesbian relationship with her upstairs neighbor Patricia Soltysik, who was the object of Hall’s love poem, “Mizmoon.” In 1973, Hall and Soltysik both joined the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a pro-Marxist, California-based terrorist group that sought to overthrow the U.S. government by means of guerrilla warfare.
From that point onward, Hall had very little contact with her parents. Her final communication with them came in a February 15, 1974 telephone call, when she told them that she was leaving the Berkeley area to work as a gardener in Palo Alto. She then disappeared from public sight and went into hiding with Soltysik and her other SLA comrades.
On April 15, 1974, Hall and four fellow SLAers—Patricia Soltysik, Donald DeFreeze, Patricia Hearst, and Nancy Ling Perry—carried out a gunpoint robbery of some $10,690 from a Hibernia Bank in San Francisco. Two men who entered the bank while the robbery was in progress were shot and wounded.
On May 17, 1974, Hall was one of six SLA members who were killed in a two-hour shootout with police at the SLA’s hideout in South Central Los Angeles. The others who died were Angela Atwood, Donald DeFreeze, Nancy Ling Perry, Patricia Soltysik, and William Wolfe.
Further Reading: “Papers Concerning Camilla Hall and George F. and Lorena Hall, 1938-1995″ (Gustavus.ed); “Camilla Hall Ends Her Long Journey Home” (People.com, 8-19-1974); “Camilla Hall” (World Heritage Encyclopedia); “Escape from the SLA” (PaulMorantz.com, March 2011); “The Rise and Fall of the Symbionese Liberation Army” (PBS.org); “What Is the Symbionese Liberation Army?” (Slate.com, 1-24-2002).