(born May 19, 1943) is an American far left radical who was
convicted in 1984 of felony murder for her participation in an
armed robbery that resulted in the killing of two police officers
and a security guard. She was released from prison in 2003. She is
currently an adjunct professor at Columbia University.
Early life and
Kathy Boudin was born on May 19, 1943, into a Jewish family
with a long left-wing history, and she was raised in Greenwich
Village, New York. Her great-uncle was Louis B. Boudin, a Marxist
theorist. Her father, attorney Leonard Boudin, had represented
such controversial clients as Judith Coplon, Fidel Castro, and
Paul Robeson. A National Lawyers Guild attorney, Leonard Boudin
was the law partner of Victor Rabinowitz, himself counsel to
numerous left-wing organizations. Kathy’s older brother, Michael
Boudin, is currently a judge on the United States Court of Appeals
for the First Circuit. She is journalist I.F. Stone's niece.
Kathy Boudin attended kindergarten at the Little Red School
House and its high school, the Elisabeth Irwin High School in
Manhattan. Although she went to Bryn Mawr College intending to
prepare for medical school, her interests quickly turned to
politics. 1965, her last year at Bryn Mawr was spent studying in
the Soviet Union. She was paid 75 rubles a month by the Soviet
government and, according to her résumé, taught on a Soviet
collective farm. Kathy Boudin also attended receptions and
functions with her parents at the Cuban Mission to the United
Nations in New York. She also attended Case Western Reserve
University School of Law for one year.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Boudin became heavily involved with the
Weather Underground. The Weathermen bombed the Pentagon, the US
Capitol, the New York Police Benevolent Association, the New York
Board of Corrections, as well as the offices of multinational
companies. Boudin, along with Cathy Wilkerson, was a survivor of
the 1970 Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, the premature
detonation of a nail bomb that had been intended for a soldiers'
dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Boudin was 27 at the time. Both
women were awaiting trial, out on bond for their alleged actions
in Days of Rage in Chicago several months earlier. Wilkerson had
been released on a $20,000 bond and Boudin was out on a $40,000
A declassified FBI report on foreign contacts of the Weather
Underground Organization produced by the FBI’s Chicago Field
Office reported that, "On February 10, 1976, a source in a
position to possess such information advised that Leonard Boudin
... had indicated to a friend that Kathie [sic] was presently in
Cuba." The law firm of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky &
Lieberman, P.C., provide legal representation for the Cuban
government in the United States.
1981 Brinks Robbery
In 1981, when Kathy Boudin was 38 years old, she and several
members of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army
robbed a Brinks armored car at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New
York. After Boudin dropped her infant son, Chesa, at a baby
sitter's, she took the wheel of the getaway vehicle, a U-Haul
truck. She waited in a nearby parking lot as her heavily armed
accomplices took another vehicle to a local mall where a Brinks
truck was making a delivery. They confronted the guards and
gunfire immediately broke out, severely wounding guard Joe
Trombino and killing his co-worker, Peter Paige. The four then
took $1.6 million in cash and rendezvoused with Boudin.
An alert high-school student called the police after spotting
the gang abandoning the getaway vehicle and entering the U-Haul. A
police officer spotted and pulled over the U-Haul, but they could
see only Boudin in the driver's seat. Boudin then got out of the
cab, and raised her hands.
The police officers who caught them testified that Boudin,
feigning innocence, pleaded with them to put down their guns and
got them to drop their guard; Boudin said she remained silent,
that the officers relaxed spontaneously. After the police lowered
their weapons, six of the men in the back of the truck armed with
automatic weapons came out of the back of the truck, surprising
the four police officers, one of whom, Waverly Brown, was killed
instantly. Boudin and David Gilbert, a Weatherman radical and the
father of Boudin's infant son, allegedly acted as decoys as well
as getaway drivers: The Brinks robbers the police were searching
for were all from the Black Liberation Army and drove a red car.
Officer Edward O'Grady lived long enough to empty his revolver,
but as he reloaded, he was shot several times with an M16. Ninety
minutes later, he died in hospital. The other two officers escaped
with only minor injuries. The occupants of the U-Haul scattered,
some climbing into another getaway car, others carjacking a nearby
motorist while Boudin attempted to flee on foot. An off-duty
corrections officer, Michael J. Koch, apprehended her shortly
after the shootout. When she was arrested, Boudin gave her name as
Three other Black Liberation Army members failed to escape that
day. Weathermen Gilbert, Samuel Brown, and Judith Alice Clark
crashed their car while making a sharp turn, and were arrested by
police. Two days later, Samuel Smith and Nathaniel Burns were
spotted in a car in New York. After a gunfight with police that
left Smith dead, Burns was captured. Three more participants were
arrested several months later.
The majority of the defendants received three consecutive
sentences of 25 years to life, making them eligible for parole in
the year 2058. Boudin hired Leonard Weinglass to defend her.
Weinglass, a law partner of Boudin's father, arranged for a plea
bargain and Boudin pled guilty to one count of felony murder and
robbery, in exchange for one twenty-year to life sentence.
Boudin was incarcerated in the Bedford Hills Correctional
Facility for Women in New York where she worked with AIDS patients
and in adult education. While there, she had a central role in
creating five formal programs:
the Teen Program, supporting teens and pre-teens whose
mothers are incarcerated, strengthening the mother-child bond
during their separation, and helping the teens become positive,
healthy, young adults;
the Parent Education Program, helping inmate mothers to
learn to be responsible parents to pre-school, grade school and
teenage children while separated by prison;
the Adult Literacy Program, which used an innovative
curriculum that Boudin wrote, was an outgrowth of the work she
did for her Masters Degree in Adult Education, earned while at
the AIDS and Women’s Health Program is the first peer
community health program devoted to AIDS among prisoners; and
the College Program, which provided courses and degrees to
incarcerated women. Boudin helped organize a consortium of
private colleges to offer this program after New York State cut
all public funding for higher education in prisons.
While incarcerated, Boudin published articles in the Harvard
Educational Review ("Participatory Literacy Education Behind
Bars: AIDS Opens the Door," Summer 1993, 63(2)), in
Breaking the Rules: Women in Prison and Feminist Therapy by
Judy Harden and Marcia Hill ("Lessons from a Mother's Program in
Prison: A Psychosocial Approach Supports Women and Their
Children," published simultaneously in Women and Therapy,
21), and in Breaking the Walls of Silence: AIDS and
Women in a New York State Maximum-Security Prison.
She co-authored The Foster Care Handbook for Incarcerated
Parents published by Bedford Hills in 1993. She co-edited
Parenting from inside/out: Voices of mothers in prison,
jointly published by correctional institutions and the Osborne
Boudin also wrote and published poetry while incarcerated,
publishing in books and journals including the PEN Center Prize
Anthology Doing Time, Concrete Garden 4, and
Aliens at the Border. She won an International PEN prize for
her poetry in 1999.
Boudin continued to pursue her education as a doctoral student
at the City University of New York (CUNY), which included
participation in the CUNY Graduate Center research team that
produced the study Changing Minds: The Impact of College in a
Boudin and Gilbert's son Chesa Boudin was adopted by former
Weatherman leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.
Boudin was granted parole on August 20, 2003 in her third
parole hearing, and released from Bedford Hills Correctional
Facility on September 17, 2003. She accepted a job in the
H.I.V./AIDS Clinic at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center,
meeting the work provisions of parole that required active job
A controversy arose as the victim's family and others disputed
whether she was truly contrite for her crime or instead was
masking her radical politics in order to gain her freedom.
Supporting this allegation was a statement, years earlier, from
William Kunstler, a law partner of Leonard Weinglass, Boudin's
attorney. Kunstler had explained Boudin's evolution from political
activist to violent revolutionary: “I went to Bedford Hills
penitentiary a few weeks ago and talked to Kathy Boudin. Kathy had
reached a point where she thought, along with others, that
non-violence was ineffective, and that you have to take the next
step, into violence.”
In May 2004, after her parole, Boudin published
in the Fellowship of Reconciliation's publication Fellowship.
Subsequently, she received an Ed. D. from Columbia University
Teachers College. In addition to her work at St. Luke's-Roosevelt,
Dr. Boudin has worked as a consultant to the Osborne Association
in the development of a Longtermers Responsibility Project taking
place in the New York State Correctional Facilities utilizing a
restorative practice approach. She has also consulted for Vermont
Corrections, the Women’s Prison Association, and supervises social
Columbia University professor
She is presently an adjunct professor at
Columbia University School of Social Work, a controversial
The Brink's robbery of 1981
was an armed robbery committed on October 20, 1981, which was
carried out by Black Liberation Army members Jeral Wayne Williams
(aka Mutulu Shakur), Donald Weems (aka Kuwasi Balagoon), Samuel
Brown (aka Solomon Bouines), Samuel Smith, Nathaniel Burns (aka
Sekou Odinga), and Cecilio "Chui" Ferguson; several former members
of the Weather Underground, now belonging to the May 19th
Communist Organization, including David Gilbert, Judith Alice
Clark, Kathy Boudin, and Marilyn Buck; and an unknown number of
They stole $1.6 million from a Brink's armored
car at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New York, killing two police
officers, Edward O'Grady and Waverly Brown (the second African
American member of the Nyack, New York police department) and a
Brink's guard, Peter Paige.
The robbery began with Boudin dropping off her
infant son, Chesa Boudin, at a babysitter's before taking the
wheel of the getaway vehicle, a U-Haul truck. She waited in a
nearby parking lot as her heavily armed accomplices drove a red
van to the Nanuet Mall, where a Brink's truck was making a
At 3:55 pm, Brink's guards Peter Paige and Joe
Trombino emerged from the mall carrying bags of money. As they
loaded the money into the truck, the robbers stormed out of their
van and attacked. One fired two shotgun blasts into the van's
bulletproof windshield, while another opened fire with an M16
rifle. Paige was hit multiple times and killed instantly. Trombino
was able to fire a single shot from his handgun, but was struck in
the shoulder and arm by several rounds, nearly severing his arm
from his body. The criminals grabbed $1.6 million in cash, got
back in their van, and fled the scene.
Trombino survived his injuries, and continued
to work for the Brink's company for the next 20 years; he was
killed at age 68, while making a Brink's delivery in the September
After fleeing the scene, the robbers drove to
the parking lot where a yellow Honda and the U-Haul truck, manned
by members of the May 19 Communist Organization, were waiting. The
robbers quickly threw the bags of money into the car and truck and
sped away. In a house across the street, an alert college student
spotted them as they switched vehicles and called the police.
Meanwhile, police units from all over the
county were converging on the mall where the shootout occurred and
attempting to cut off all possible escape routes. Soon police
officers Edward O'Grady, Waverly Brown, Brian Lennon, and Artie
Keenan spotted and pulled over the U-Haul truck, with David
Gilbert and Kathy Boudin in the front seats, along with the yellow
Honda at an entrance ramp to the New York State Thruway off New
York State Route 59. The police were not sure if they had the
right truck, since it had been reported that the robbers were all
black-skinned, while the occupants of this vehicle were
white-skinned (a deliberate part of the original plan by the
robbers, hoping to fool the police). But since the truck matched
the description of the getaway vehicle they were looking for, the
officers pulled it over and approached with guns drawn.
The police officers who caught them testified
that Boudin, feigning innocence, pleaded with them to put down
their guns and convinced them to drop their guard; Boudin said she
remained silent, that the officers relaxed spontaneously. After
the police lowered their guns, six men armed with automatic
weapons and wearing body armor emerged from the back of the truck
and began firing upon the four police officers. Officer Brown was
hit repeatedly by rifle rounds and collapsed on the ground. One
robber then walked up to his prone body and fired several more
shots into him with a 9mm handgun, ensuring his death. Keenan was
shot in the leg, but managed to duck behind a tree and return
Officer O'Grady lived long enough to empty his
revolver, but as he reloaded, he was shot several times with an
M16. Ninety minutes later, he died on a hospital operating table.
Meanwhile Lennon, who was in his cruiser when the shootout began,
tried to exit out the front passenger door, but O'Grady's body was
wedged up against the door. He watched as the suspects jumped back
into the U-Haul and sped directly towards him. Lennon fired his
shotgun several times at the speeding truck as it collided with
his police car.
The occupants of the U-Haul scattered, some
climbing into the yellow Honda, others carjacking a nearby
motorist while Boudin attempted to flee on foot. An off-duty
corrections officer apprehended her shortly after the shootout.
When she was arrested, Boudin gave her name as Barbara Edson.
Three other suspects failed to escape. May 19
Communists Chris Dobbs, Samuel Brown, and Judith Alice Clark
crashed the Honda while making a sharp turn. South Nyack police
chief Alan Colsey was the only officer initially at the scene of
the crash, but he managed to hold them at gun point until backup
arrived. After that, all three were arrested. Inside the car,
police found $800,000 from the robbery and a 9mm handgun on the
floor of the back seat.
Police traced the license plate on one of the
getaway vehicles to an apartment in New Jersey. Inside, the police
found weapons, bomb-making materials, and detailed blueprints of
six Manhattan police precincts. Investigations later revealed the
apartment was rented by Marilyn Buck, another former Weatherman
turned May 19 Communist who had been previously arrested for
providing weapons to the BLA. She had been sentenced to 10 years
in prison, but in 1977 she was granted furlough and never
While at the apartment, police also found
papers that listed an address in Mt. Vernon, New York, a small
city in Westchester County about 20 miles from the mall where the
robbery occurred. When police raided that apartment, they found
bloody clothing, ammunition, more guns and ski masks.
Investigation later revealed that the bloody clothing belonged to
Buck, who had accidentally shot herself in the leg when she tried
to draw her weapon during the shootout with the police.
All the plates on the vehicles seen near the
Mt. Vernon address were entered into the NCIC system. Two days
later, NYPD detectives spotted a 1978 Chrysler with a license
plate that had been seen at the Mt. Vernon Apartment. The vehicle,
driven by Samuel Smith and Sekou Odinga, fled from the police when
they tried to pull it over. After the vehicle crashed, the two
occupants engaged the police in a gunfight that left Smith dead
and Odinga captured. Inside Smith's shirt pocket, police found a
crushed .38 caliber slug they believe was fired from officer
O'Grady's service weapon. Three more participants were arrested
several months later, including Weems (Balagoon).
The investigation for the participants in the
robbery would continue for years. Buck was arrested in 1985. The
last person to be arrested in connection with it was Willams (Shakur),
the ringleader of the robbery, in 1986.
Trials and sentencing
Gilbert, Weems, and Clark were the first of the Brink's robbers
to go to trial. Because the BLA was known for attempting to break
their members out of prison (as in the case of Assata Shakur),
massive security precautions were undertaken, turning the
courthouse in Goshen, New York into a heavily armed compound. The
job of presiding over what was expected to be an arduous and
potentially dangerous trial was assigned to Judge David S. Ritter
who tried to balance ensuring the rights of the unpopular
defendants with keeping the peace in the courtroom while they used
unconventional approaches to making their case. All three
defendants declined assistance from defense lawyers and chose to
represent themselves. Their contention was that since they did not
recognize the authority of the United States, the government had
no right to put them on trial. Throughout the trial, they
repeatedly disrupted the proceedings by shouting anti-US slogans,
proclaiming to be "at war" with the government and refusing to
respect any aspect of the US legal system. They called the robbery
an "expropriation" of funds that were needed to form a new country
in a few select southern states that ideally would be populated
only by African Americans.
When it came time for the defendants to present their case,
they called only one witness, Nathaniel Burns (Sekou Odinga), who
had already been convicted of multiple bank robberies. He said
that his organization was "fighting for the liberation and
self-determination of black people in this country." Burns
testified that the killings were suitable because the three
victims had interfered with the "expropriation." In his view, the
theft of money was morally justified because those funds "were
robbed through the slave labor that was forced on them and their
ancestors." After his testimony, he was praised by the defendants
and led out of the courtroom to serve his 40-year federal prison
sentence. The jury was not convinced by Burns' reasoning and at
the end of the trial, it took the jury only four hours of
deliberation to return a verdict convicting all three defendants
of armed robbery and three counts of murder. When the verdict was
announced, Clark, Gilbert and Weems refused to appear in court.
They remained in the basement holding cells, drinking coffee and
railing against, what they perceived to be, a racist court system.
"I don't think any interest is served by forcing them to be here,"
said Judge Ritter.
Rockland County D.A. Kenneth Gribetz told reporters: "Our goal
is to see that these people, who have contempt for society and
have shown no remorse, will never see the streets of society
again!" Judge Ritter apparently agreed. On October 6, 1983, he
sentenced each defendant to three consecutive twenty-five
year-to-life sentences, making them eligible for parole in the
year 2058. After the trial, Weems claimed, "As to the seventy five
years in prison, I am not really worried, not only because I am in
the habit of not completing sentences or waiting on parole or any
of that nonsense but also because the State simply isn't going to
last seventy five or even fifty years." He died in prison from
AIDS in 1986. Gilbert and Clark remain in prison. In September
2006, Clark was granted a new trial by a judge in a district court
on grounds that she had no representation at trial. On January 3,
2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit,
in a unanimous decision, reversed the district court's judgment
granting a new trial. The Second Circuit panel noted that she
chose to represent herself and defaulted any claim by failing to
appeal until after the time for appeals had expired.
Unlike their fellow robbers, Boudin and Brown attempted to
mount a legal defense. Boudin hired Leonard Weinglass to defend
her. Weinglass, a law partner of Boudin's father, arranged for a
plea bargain and Boudin pled guilty to one count of felony murder
and robbery, in exchange for a single twenty year-to-life
sentence. She was paroled in 2003. However, Brown was unable to
reach any deal that would spare him a life sentence. Since he had
nothing to lose by going to trial, he decided to have one. At his
trial, he claimed to have only had a minor participation in the
robbery and had not fired a weapon at anyone. The jury was not
convinced. In addition to being caught in the escape attempt with
the other robbers, witnesses identified him as a participant in
both shootouts. He was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison.
Buck was later convicted of multiple charges related to the
Brink's robbery and other crimes and sentenced to 50 years in a
federal prison. She was released from prison in July, 2010, and
died of cancer in August, 2010. Williams (Shakur), the alleged
ringleader of the group, was the last one to go on trial on
charges related to the robbery. In 1988, he received a 60-year
prison sentence. He has a parole release date of 2016.
In 2004, the Nyack post office was officially
renamed after the two police officers and the Brink's guard who
were killed in the shootout.
In 2008, Kathy Boudin was
appointed as an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of
Social Work, prompting a 2013 governmental condemnation of the
university's action and a call for her termination as professor.
Anger as left-wing activist
who was jailed for armed robbery that killed three is given
prestigious teaching job at Columbia University
April 5, 2013
A convicted felon who participated in a 1981 armed robbery with
radical group Weather Underground - which left three people dead -
is now a professor at Columbia University.
Boudin, 69, is an ajunct professor at Columbia's prestigious
School of Social Work after serving 22 years in prison for the
deadly heist, the New York Post has reported.
Upon learning about her new post, surviving family members of the
crime's victims are outraged.
'I can't believe
that a murderer can obtain a job at a university as a professor,'
Michael Paige, the son of victim Peter Paige, told Fox News.
Boudin was charged with felony murder for driving the getaway
vehicle - a U-Haul van - during the robbery of $1.6 million in
cash from an armored Brinks truck.
guard Peter Paige and two police officers, Edward O'Grady and
Waverly Brown, were killed in a shootout with her accomplices.
Boudin and her partners were members of the anti-Vietnam War
group, Weather Underground, and the Black Liberation Army, both of
which claimed responsibility for a number of violent attacks and
bombings in the 1970s and 1980s.
The majority of
Boudin's accomplices were sentenced to life sentences, but Boudin
only served 22 years.
She never fired a weapon
during the heist, but Michael Page says that's irrelevant.
'She murdered three men - my father and two police officers,' he
said. 'She robbed my father and those officers of everything they
worked for in their entire lives - their families, their children,
'She robbed my mother of her
husband... She robbed us as children of our fathers. She took
everything from us.'
Paige said her 'debt to
society' will never be repaid.
'As far as I'm
concerned, she should have gotten the death penality,' he said.
John Hanchar, the nephew of another victim of the robbery, Nyack
Police Officer Edward O’Grady, said Boudin is responsible for
leaving nine children without their fathers.
'It’s easy to forget that violence is never the answer,' Hanchar
told the Post. 'Nine children grew up without their dads because
of her actions.'
While she was in prison, Boudin
published articles in the Harvard Educational Review and
co-authored a book.
She was released from prison
on parole in 2003 and earned a teaching degree from Columbia.
She teaches about issues facing convicts and their families when
they are released back into society.
School of Social Work Associated Dean Marianna Yoshioka told the
Post she has been an 'excellent teacher who gets incredible
evaluations from her students each year.'
Boudin Goes Free
Brian Bernbaum - AP
September 17, 2003
bitter protests from law officers, 1960s radical Kathy Boudin was
released from prison Wednesday after serving 22 years for murder
in an armored car heist that left two policemen and a security
physically ill right now," said Brent Newbury, president of the
Rockland County Patrolmen's Benevolent Association. "I can't
believe I just saw Kathy Boudin walk out of prison."
Boudin, 60, a former Weather Underground member,
was granted parole last month despite heavy opposition of
relatives, friends and colleagues of the slain men.
On Wednesday morning, she walked out of the Bedford
Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County with her lawyer,
a loose white shirt, black pants and white sneakers, Boudin
repeatedly turned back toward the prison to wave farewell to
several inmate friends gathered at a window. After the long
goodbye, she climbed into a sport utility vehicle and was driven
away behind a police car.
There were no active protesters, but a few members of the police
association were on hand "to make sure that we don't forget the
police officers and the security officer who were slain," Newbury
said. "Kathy Boudin needs to know that when she's sleeping safely
tonight, she's being protected by police officers just like the
ones that she was involved in murdering."
Boudin was once a member of the Weather Underground
- a group that helped define the radical anti-war movement of the
1960s with its violent protests and bombings.
She was later recruited for the robbery by Black
Liberation Army members and other radicals. The robbers stole $1.6
million from a Brink's armored car at a suburban mall and killed
security guard Peter Paige. The two policemen, Sgt. Edward O'Grady
and Officer Waverly Brown, were gunned down when the truck, with
Boudin in the passenger seat, was stopped at a roadblock and gang
members burst from the back of the vehicle with automatic weapons
Boudin was caught
as she fled. She had been a fugitive for the previous decade after
she was seen running from an explosion at a New York City
townhouse where bombs allegedly were being made.
Boudin, the daughter of the late civil rights
attorney Leonard Boudin, was convicted of murder and robbery and
sentenced to 20 years to life in prison in the robbery.
Boudin will be living and working in the New York
metropolitan area and will be under routine parole restrictions
including a 10 p.m. curfew and travel restrictions for the rest of
She has received
several job offers, including one at St. Luke's Hospital in New
York City, where she would develop programs for HIV-positive
women. St. Luke's spokeswoman Kathleen McGovern said Wednesday
that Boudin "has not yet accepted the offer."
The hospital job would echo some of the work Boudin
did in prison that helped her win parole - organizing programs for
AIDS patients and inmates with children, for example.
Anamarie Scala-Doran, whose police officer father
was killed in an attempted robbery in 1975 while guarding St.
Luke's payroll, was outraged by word of the job.
"It's offensive to my family and me that my father
gave his life protecting the people of St. Luke's Hospital, yet
they would consider employing a person guilty of murdering police
officers," she said in an opinion piece in Wednesday's New York
Gov. George Pataki
announced his disapproval when Boudin's parole was granted in
August, and there are signs of a shakeup to come. Board Chairman
Brion Travis has told his fellow commissioners he is giving up
"day-to-day administrative responsibilities" for the board, and
state government sources said the move was a direct result of the
Boudin parole decision. Thomas Grant, spokesman for the state
Parole Division, denied that.