’70s radical David Gilbert granted parole for Brink’s heist
ALBANY, NY (AP) – Former Weather Underground radical David Gilbert has been granted parole after 40 years behind bars for his role in a deadly 1981 Brink robbery that was a violent echo of extremism from left born in the 1960s, state corrections said Tuesday.
Gilbert, 76, has been in jail for a short time after the infamous botched armored car theft in which a guard and two police officers were killed. He only became eligible for parole after his 75-year life sentence was shortened by Governor Andrew Cuomo in August, hours before he left office.
Gilbert appeared before the state parole board on Oct. 19 and was subsequently granted parole, New York State Corrections spokesperson Thomas Mailey said on Tuesday.
He will be able to leave the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley next month.
Supporters – including his son, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin – lobbied for Gilbert to join other defendants in the case who were released from prison.
In an email, Boudin said: “I am very grateful to the parole board and everyone who supported my father during his over 40 years in prison. I think of the other children affected by this crime and I want to make sure that nothing I do or say further upsets the families of the victims. Their loved ones will never be forgotten.
But even the prospect of Gilbert’s release angered some local Hudson Valley officials and family members who said his release would insult the memory of the men killed.
In a statement, Rockland County Director Ed Day called the decision a “cruel and unfair slap in the face of the families” of those killed.
“Former Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Parole Board should be ashamed of allowing this national terrorist to roam our streets freely,” Day said. “There is no reason why David Gilbert should not have to face the full consequences of his heinous crimes no matter how much time has passed.”
Gilbert and other former members of the Weather Underground, a militant group from the anti-Vietnam War movement, joined members of the Black Liberation Army in the October 20, 1981 robbery. They stole 1.6 million dollars in cash in an armored car outside the Nanuet Mall near the community of Nyack on the Hudson River.
Brink’s guard, Peter Paige, and two police officers from Nyack, Sgt. Edward O’Grady, and Constable Waverly Brown, were killed in the heist and subsequent shootout at a nearby roadblock.
Although unarmed, Gilbert was charged with theft and murder as people were killed in the crime. Chesa Boudin’s mother, Kathy Boudin, has also been charged. The boy was 14 months old when his parents were jailed.
In a sometimes heated trial, Gilbert and two other defendants presented themselves as freedom fighters and deemed the proceedings illegitimate. During a court hearing, Gilbert and the accused Judith Clark raised their fists and shouted “Free the earth!” “
Kathy Boudin avoided a harsher sentence by pleading guilty and was released on parole in 2003. Clark was granted parole in 2019, three years after Cuomo commuted his sentence. She had been denied parole after her first hearing two years earlier.
Gilbert was not eligible for parole until 2056 before Cuomo commuted his sentence. The former governor said Gilbert made significant contributions to AIDS education and prevention programs and worked as a tutor, legal library clerk, paralegal, teaching assistant and assistant in various prison programs.
Chesa Boudin was raised by compatriots Weather Underground of her parents, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
He led a progressive campaign for the San Francisco District Attorney in 2019 in which he said visiting his parents in prison showed him the criminal justice system was down.
Matthews reported from New York.