Kathy Boudin, radically jailed in a serious robbery, dies aged 78

Kathy Boudin, a member of the radical Weather Underground of the 1960s and ’70s was involved in the arrest of an armored truck by Brink in 1981, then, in prison, and two decades after his release. century later, helped prisoners who were struggling for their lives. watching, died on Sunday in New York. She is 78 years old.

The cause was cancer, said Zayd Dohrn, whose family adopted Boudin’s son, Chesa Boudin.

One day in March 1970, Mrs. Boudin was showering at a townhouse on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village when an explosion knocked down the walls around her. She and the extremists built bombs there, the intended target of which was the Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey. Three of them were killed on the spot. Nude Boudin tried to run away with a colleague and found clothing and brief refuge at the home of a woman who lived down the block.

Then she disappeared.

Within a few years, so did the Weather Underground. A separatist faction of the Left Student for Social Democracy, it calls itself Weatherman, borrowed from “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, a 1965 song by Bob Dylan with the lyrics “You Don’t Need a Time Forecaster” weather to know which way the wind blows.” The name evolved into Weather Underground.

During an era of civil rights turmoil and the growing unpopularity of the Vietnam War, the group planted bombs at the U.S. Capitol, New York City Police Headquarters, and other buildings. If anything, it is even more adept at delivering lengthy, filling and leading manifestos with mentions of Karl Marx, Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh, and asserting “the main struggle ‘ of the world is ‘between American imperialism and the national liberation struggles against it. . ”

With the Weather Underground’s disappearance in the mid-1970s as the war ended, its leaders, one by one, escaped to face legal consequences while being on the most wanted list. of the FBI.

Not Miss Boudin (pronounced boo-DEEN). She recalled years later in an interview with The New Yorker at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County, NY, where she was held. She continued: “I didn’t make any difference, so then I raised the importance of being underground.”

That ended in October 1981, when she teamed up with armed men from another extremist group, the Black Liberation Army, to keep a Brink truck in Rockland County, NY, earned 1.6 million dollars. During the gunfight, gunmen killed a security guard, Peter Paige. They transferred the money to a U-Haul truck waiting nearly a mile away. Ms. Boudin was in the cab of the truck, a 38-year-old white woman used as bait to confuse police officers who were hunting for Black men.

U-Haul was stopped by the police at a barricade. Miss Boudin, who was unarmed, immediately surrendered, raising her hands to the sky. But the gunmen jumped from the back of the truck and opened fire, killing Sgt. Edward J. O’Grady and Officer Waverly L. Brown. Despite some allegations that her surrender was a tactic to get police to lay down their weapons before being attacked, Ms Boudin insisted that was not the case.

More than half a dozen suspects were arrested, and most were sentenced to prison sentences long enough to warrant life in prison. Among them were David Gilbert, whom Ms. Boudin married after their arrest, and with whom she had a son, Chesa, who was 14 months old at the time Brink worked. Divorced while in prison, they reunite in 2021 after Mr Gilbert’s 75-year sentence was reduced and he was released. Chesa Boudinraised by a Weather Underground couple, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, were elected San Francisco district attorney in 2019. Both her husband and son survived.

After several rounds of legal controversy, in April 1984, Ms. Boudin pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and second-degree murder in Paige’s death. Despite being unarmed and not even at the scene where the guard was killed, the judge agreed with prosecutors that she was responsible and sentenced her to 20 years to life in prison. Dear.

When sentencing, she turned to the victim’s relatives. “I know that whatever I say now will sound hollow, but I send you my deepest sympathies,” she said. “I feel hurt.” Of her motives, “I went there because of my commitment to the Negro liberation struggle and its underground movement. I am a white man who does not want the crimes committed against black people to bear my name.”

She proved to be a model inmate at Bedford Hills, mentoring other inmates, caring for people with AIDS, writing poetry and expressing regret for her role in the death of her robbers. Brink. In September 2003, after 22 years behind bars, she was released on parole.

Not everyone is satisfied. Diane O’Grady, the widow of Sergeant O’Grady, wrote in The New York Post that she did not “believe that prisoner Boudin had feelings of guilt, shame or remorse”. But Ms Boudin has received ample support, including from several Bedford Hills employees. Even conservative William F. Buckley Jr. signed a letter to the amnesty panel affirming his belief in “human resilience and transformation.”

In a 2004 article for a journal called Fellowship, written before she was released from prison, Boudin said that she had “completely accepted her enormous human responsibility: I supported and was a part of it.” of a robbery that risks and subsequently destroys human life”.

A 1965 graduate of Bryn Mawr, she obtained a master’s degree in adult education and literacy from Norwich College while in prison and five years after her release she received her doctorate from the Teachers College at the University. Columbia. After her release from prison, her work focuses on current and former inmates, especially women, helping them get pardons and prepare for life outside, down to fundamentals like How to behave yourself in job interviews.

She is also the founder of the Center for Justice at Columbia, which explores the social consequences of mass incarceration. What many people don’t appreciate, she said in a 2021 interview for this obituary, is that “there are tremendous resources waiting to be realized in people who are too often defined as who left”.

Kathy Boudin has been familiar with radical politics almost from the time she was born in Manhattan on May 19, 1943. Her father, Leonard B. Boudin, was a civil rights attorney with a client list up to the left. Who’s Who, including Paul Robeson, Daniel Ellsberg and anti-war doctor Benjamin Spock. Her mother, Jean (Roisman) Boudin, was a poet. Her great-uncle is Louis Boudin, a prominent civil rights attorney, and an uncle who is a freelance journalist IF Stone.

In addition to Mr. Gilbert and her son, she is survived by her son’s two adopted brothers, six grandchildren and her brother, Michael, a retired federal appeals court judge and a political conservative. , Mr. Dohrn, one of his adopted brothers, said on Sunday.

Ms. Boudin attended Little Red Schoolhouse and Elisabeth Irwin High School in Greenwich Village, graduating in 1961. During her senior year, she visited Cuba, a country she visited again in 1969 with fellow students. progressive friend.

At Bryn Mawr, she majored in Russia, receiving her bachelor’s degree in absentia because she was studying in Moscow. In the summer, she works in hospitals, camps for disabled children and in blood banks. She later became a community organizer in Cleveland.

Her militia is growing. She participated in “Days of Rage” in October 1969, a window-smashing attack through Chicago’s Gold Coast district by anti-war fighters. She and others were charged with conspiracy and riot law violations, cases ultimately dismissed on the grounds that the government illegally obtained evidence. Around that time, she co-wrote “The Bust Book,” which gives advice on what to wear to protests and what to do if arrested.

Hidden behind the townhouse explosion, Ms. Boudin took various alias and took low-paying jobs in New York, including working as a waitress and employee of a catering company at the United States tennis tournament. Open in Queens. She is “very sociable,” a company official said.

Then there’s Brink’s hold. “Regret will always guide me,” she wrote to Fellowship. “It has been a very personal journey with stops along the way. It is a road with no end”.

Alyssa Lukpat contribution report.

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