Weather Underground radical David Gilbert, 76, gains parole in deadly New York Brinks robbery heist after 40 years in prison

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Former Weather Underground radical David Gilbert, the getaway driver in the deadly botched Brinks robbery 40 years ago in which a guard and two police officers were killed, was granted parole on Tuesday.

Although Gilbert was unarmed during the attempted heist, he was charged with robbery and murder, since people were killed during the heist.

Gilbert, 76, was originally sentenced to 75 years to life in prison, but he became eligible for parole after his sentence was shortened by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo in August, hours before he left office amid a sexual harassment scandal.

Gilbert appeared before the state parole board Oct. 19 — just one day before the 40th anniversary of the shootings — and was subsequently granted parole, a corrections department spokesman said Tuesday.

Gilbert will be able to leave Shawangunk Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley next month.

Killed in the robbery near the Nanuet Mall in Nyack were Brink’s guard Peter Paige and two Nyack police officers, Sgt. Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly Brown, during a shootout at a nearby roadblock.

Gilbert and other former members of the Weather Underground, a militant group that grew out of the anti-Vietnam War movement, joined with members of the Black Liberation Army in the Oct. 20, 1981, robbery.

Prosecutors said they stole $1.6 million in cash from an armored car outside the mall.

At what became a celebrated and raucous trial, Gilbert and two other defendants cast themselves as freedom fighters and said the proceedings were illegitimate. During one court session, Gilbert and defendant Judith Clark raised their fists and shouted “Free the land!”

Among the supporters cheering Gilbert’s pending release was his son, Chesa Boudin, who today is the district attorney of San Francisco.

“I am so grateful to the parole board and to everyone who has supported my father during his more than 40 years in prison,” Boudin said in an email to the Associated Press. “I’m thinking about the other children affected by this crime and want to make sure that nothing I do or say further upsets the victims’ families. Their loved ones will never be forgotten.”

Boudin was just 14 months old when his parents were imprisoned. He was raised by his parents’ Weather Underground compatriots, Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Boudin’s mother, Kathy Boudin, who also had a role in the holdup, avoided a harsher sentence by pleading guilty and was paroled in 2003. Clark was granted parole in 2019, three years after Cuomo commuted her sentence.

Boudin said it was visits to prison to see his parents that shaped his desire to help fix a broken criminal justice system.

Before Cuomo commuted his sentence, Gilbert would not have been eligible for parole until 2056. His impending release is a “cruel and unjust slap in the face to the families” of those killed,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said in a statement.

“Former Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Parole Board should be ashamed for allowing this domestic terrorist to walk free on our streets,” Day said. “There’s no reason that David Gilbert should not have to face the full consequences of his heinous crimes, no matter how much time has passed.”

At a commemorative event last week at the site of the site of the shootout, relatives of the slain guard and officers said the wounds are still fresh.

“The pain and emotion never go away,” said the murdered guard’s son, Michael Paige, an attorney. “Oct. 20 is the hardest day of the year for my family. Coming here lets us know we’re not alone and the three men’s sacrifices were not in vain.”

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