Departing Cuomo Grants Clemency to Ex-Weather Underground Terrorist

Departing Cuomo Grants Clemency to Ex-Weather Underground Terrorist
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives a farewell speech via online video in New York on Aug. 23, 2021. (New York Governor’s Office via AP)
Ella Kietlinska

On his last day in office,  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, granted clemency, on Monday, to a former member of the Weather Underground domestic terrorist group convicted of murder and robbery.

Cuomo referred to the parole board 76-year-old David Gilbert, a former activist of the radical left Weather Underground group, who was convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery for his participation in the robbery of a Brinks armored truck in Nyack, New York in 1981.

Gilbert is one of six people that Cuomo granted clemency to on his final day as governor.

“These individuals have shown remorse, rehabilitation, and commitment to their communities,” Cuomo said in a tweet.

Gilbert was sentenced to 75 years in prison and has already served 40 years for the crimes he committed in which “he was the driver, not the murderer,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Gilbert, while incarcerated, “has made significant contributions to AIDS education and prevention programs,” Cuomo said, adding that “he has also worked as a student tutor, law library clerk, paralegal assistant, a teacher’s aide, and an aide for various additional facility programs.”

The robbery, in which Gilbert participated, was carried out by members of the Black Liberation Army and the Weather Underground Organization and resulted in the murder of two police officers and one security guard.

Gilbert was a leader of the Weather Underground which was founded in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society, according to Trevor Loudon, author and filmmaker who has researched radical left, Marxist, and terrorist movements for more than 30 years.
The Weather Underground was inspired by communist ideologies and embraced violence and crime as a way to protest the Vietnam War, and racism among other goals according to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

During the 1970s, the group claimed responsibility “for 25 bombings—including the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, the California Attorney General’s office, and a New York City police station,” the FBI report said.

Before joining the Weather Underground, Gilbert was highly active in Students for Democratic Society at Columbia University in New York, a left wing group created during the turbulent ‘60s to promote social change.
A report commissioned by the New York criminal justice division in 1985 stated that the Brinks robbery “was not designed as a terrorist act but was, rather, a criminal act carried out by terrorists for the economic gain of their organizations.” (pdf)
Gilbert’s son Chesa Boudin, a district attorney in San Francisco, has lobbied to attain clemency for his father. He said on Twitter that his father “never intended to do harm.”

Chesa Boudin’s mother, Kathy Boudin, was also involved in the Brinks robbery but was granted parole in 2003. She is now a researcher and adjunct professor at the Center for Justice at Columbia University.

New York State Assemblyman Michael Lawler (R) criticized the granting of clemency  calling it a betrayal of the crime victims.

New York State Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick (D) condemned Cuomo’s decision in harsh words saying it was “a slap in the face of everyone in Rockland who lived through the horror of seeing Rockland County victimized by the domestic terrorists of the Weather Underground.”

Nyack, a place where the robbery was committed, is located in Rockland County, New York.

Reichlin-Melnick also said that when he first heard of a clemency petition for Gilbert, he sent a letter to Cuomo urging the governor to reject the petition. Many local officials also sent similar letters, the senator added.