Radical Weather Underground activist David Gilbert gets parole

The radical activist will see the light soon thanks to the clemency gesture of Governor Andrew Cuomo, hours before leaving office. / REUTERS

In his last hours as governor, Andrew Cuomo reduced his sentence so that he could request his release.

They were white, born into wealthy families, studied at renowned universities and were inspired by Bob Dylan songs, from which they got the name for their organization. The “terrorists” of the Weather Underground, a radical anti-imperialist movement that grew out of the Vietnam War, were nothing like 9/11 and not even Timothy McVeigh, the author of the attack on the FBI building in Oklahoma. But they also planted bombs and suffered the same fate.

The last of its members jailed for the notorious Brink robbery will see the light soon thanks to the clemency gesture of Governor Andrew Cuomo, hours before leaving office, and the decision made by the parole committee on Tuesday.

David Gilbert, who is now 76 years old, did not kill anyone. He did not even hold a weapon, but has spent 40 years in prison for his complicity in the robbery of an armored convoy in 1981, which cost the lives of two policemen and a security guard from Nyack, New York. The crime to finance their campaigns was planned by the Black Panthers, but they were joined by the Weather Underground and the Communist Organization of May 19. Everything went wrong. The sworn guards shot them back with an M-16 rifle, upon hearing the shots a patrol car parked nearby came, a witness saw them put the money in the van …

A son attorney general

Gilbert and his partner, Kathy Boudin, were in charge of the getaway vehicle in which the robbers deposited a loot of $ 1.6 million in cash. They had just left their 14-month-old son with a ‘baby sitter’ and that would be the last time they would hug him in freedom. Chesa Boudin was adopted by the group’s leader, Bill Ayers, and is now attorney general of San Francisco. With that prestige, he has led the campaign to free his father. His first words upon hearing the news have been of empathy for the children who, like him, grew up without a father because of that robbery.

Gilbert received 75 years in prison or life in prison. He would not have been eligible for parole until he turned 107. Cuomo did not dare overturn the sentence that avenged the deaths of two policemen, but he reduced the sentence enough so that he could apply for parole. There were no guarantees. Gilbert has proven to be “a perfect example of the human capacity to change,” declared one expert. However, retired police officer Arthur Keenan, wounded in the shooting, believes that his release is “a terrible injustice” and has called Cuomo a “traitor”.

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