April 1, 1974: The Kidnapping of Patricia Davis

Up against the wall, motherfuckers!

Up against the wall, motherfuckers!

She used to be such a nice girl.

Even though she still lived at home at age 38, and enjoyed the privileged life of a Washington State apple-growing magnate’s heiress, people close to her have always described the young Patricia Davis as humble, shy, slow to anger, and quick with a laugh. All that changed, and radically indeed, on the date in focus here, when Ms. Davis was suddenly kidnapped by a shadowy group of political and/or theatrical extremists who called themselves the Symbionese Liberation Army of Washington — SLAW, for short.

Led by a mysterious figure known only as Ottoman, SLAW demanded as ransom that Davis’s father give away his entire spring harvest that year to the hungry children of Eastern Washington’s migrant workers, along with one million peanut-butter sandwiches and a Cadillac for Ottoman. When Mr. Davis refused, SLAW promptly began brainwashing little Patricia by reading Soul on Ice to her backwards and subjecting her to the music of Blue Cheer played at deafening volume. The fruits of SLAW’s efforts were soon seen on national television when several members of SLAW — including Ms. Davis, who had now been renamed “Tania” by the group — staged a robbery at the Ivar’s Acres of Clams restaurant on Seattle’s downtown waterfront. The sight of the formerly fresh-faced Patricia Davis, caught on tape by a security camera, wearing a beret, brandishing a Kalashnikov, and shouting, “Up against the wall, motherfuckers!” was apparently too much for many. According to urban legend, on the day the tape of Tania was broadcast, all across Ballard grumpy old Scandinavians could be seen and heard knocking lutefisk off their TV trays as they leapt towards their TV sets with the intent of kicking in the screens.

One year later, Davis officially left SLAW, repented of her radical sins, and began running for Port of Seattle Commissioner. She was finally elected ten years and five elections later, and held the office until her resignation in 2009, often appearing on the front pages of both of Seattle’s daily newspapers with a self-victimizing look on her face. What most history books don’t reveal is that Pat Davis never actually left SLAW, but in fact went “deep underground” in order to infiltrate the Establishment and do as much damage as possible to the credibility of Seattle’s city government.

And oh, what a job she’s done. From helping give the infamously corrupt Mic Dinsmore free reign at the Port in 1994 to helping bring the World Trade Organization to Seattle in 1999 to her role in the more recent scandalous Port shenanigans revealed in a damning state audit report in 2008, Pat Davis has done more genuinely radical damage to Seattle City Hall than any run-of-the-mill bank heist or courthouse bombing ever could. Well done, Tania! Well done, comrade!

Sources: Pat Davis with James Frey, “A Million Little Sweetheart Deals: My True Life Story, and Then Some” (Hamburger University Press, 2007); Ivar Haglund with Margaret Seltzer and Louis Malle, “My Steakhouse Dinner With Tania” (Clam Chowder Community College Press, 1985); Onion archives.