Kathy Boudin

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Kathy Boudin (born May 19, 1943) is a former member of the far-left group Weather Underground who was convicted of felony murder for her role in the Brink's robbery of 1981. The robbery resulted in the killing of two Nyack police officers and one security guard and serious injury to another security guard.[1] Boudin was released from prison on parole in 2003 and became an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

Early life and family[edit]

Kathy Boudin was born on May 19, 1943, into a family with a long left-wing history. She was raised in Greenwich Village, New York City. Her family was Jewish. Her great-uncle was Louis B. Boudin, a Marxist theorist. Her father, attorney Leonard Boudin, had represented controversial clients such as Judith Coplon, the Cuban government,[2] and Paul Robeson.[3] A National Lawyers Guild attorney, Leonard Boudin was the law partner of Victor Rabinowitz, himself counsel to numerous left-wing organizations.[4] Kathy Boudin attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the class of 1965.[citation needed]

Boudin fell in love with David Gilbert in the 1970s and gave birth to their son Chesa in 1980.[citation needed] Chesa Boudin was adopted by former Weatherman leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.[5]

Weather Underground[edit]

In the 1960s and 1970s, Boudin became heavily involved with the Weather Underground.[citation needed] The Weather Underground bombed The Pentagon, the United States Capitol, the New York Police Benevolent Association, the New York Board of Corrections, and the offices of multinational companies.[citation needed] Boudin, along with Cathy Wilkerson, was a survivor of the 1970 Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, which occurred when a nail bomb that WU members were building and intending to detonate at a soldiers' dance at Fort Dix, New Jersey exploded prematurely, killing three of their members.[6] 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. She fled underground with other members of the WU during the 1970s.[citation needed]

1981 Brink's Robbery[edit]

In 1981, Boudin and several former members of the Weather Underground and the Black Liberation Army robbed a Brink's armored car at the Nanuet Mall, in Nanuet, New York. After Boudin dropped her infant son off at a babysitter'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 the Brink's truck was making a pick-up. They confronted the guards and gunfire immediately broke out, severely wounding guard Joseph Trombino and killing his partner, Peter Paige. The four then took $1.6 million in cash and rejoined Boudin.[citation needed]

An alert college student called the police after spotting the gang abandoning their vehicle and entering the U-Haul. Two policeman spotted and pulled over the U-Haul, but they were expecting black males, and could only see Boudin – a white female – in the driver's seat. She got out of the cab, and raised her hands. Another police car with two officers quickly arrived on the scene.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

After the police lowered their guns, six men armed with automatic weapons emerged from the back of the truck, and began firing upon the four police officers, one of whom, Waverly Brown, was killed instantly. Officer Edward O'Grady lived long enough to empty his revolver, but as he reloaded, he was shot several times with an M16 rifle. Ninety minutes later, he died in the hospital. The other two officers escaped with minor injuries.[citation needed]

Boudin and David Gilbert allegedly acted as decoys as well as getaway drivers. 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 Barbara Edson.[citation needed]

Gilbert, Samuel Brown, and Judith Alice Clark crashed their car while making a sharp turn, and were arrested by police. Three Black Liberation Army members also failed to escape that day. 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.[citation needed]

Prosecution and incarceration[edit]

Boudin hired Leonard Weinglass to represent her. Weinglass, a law partner of Boudin's father, arranged for a plea bargain and Boudin pleaded guilty to one count of felony murder and robbery, in exchange for one 20-years-to-life sentence.[citation needed] By comparison, David Gilbert received 70-years-to-life and as of 2015, is still incarcerated.[citation needed] After the couple began their prison sentences, WU co-founder William Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn adopted Chesa Boudin and raised him as their own son.

Boudin was incarcerated in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women.[citation needed] While incarcerated, Boudin published articles in the Harvard Educational Review ("Participatory Literacy Education Behind Bars: AIDS Opens the Door," Summer 1993, 63 (2)),[7] 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 & Therapy, 21),[8] 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 also co-edited Parenting from inside/out: Voices of mothers in prison, jointly published by correctional institutions and the Osborne Foundation.[9]

Boudin also wrote and published poetry while incarcerated, publishing in books and journals including the PEN Center Prize Anthology Doing Time, Concrete Garden, and Aliens at the Border.[10] She won an International PEN prize for her poetry in 1999.[11]

Boudin and Roslyn D. Smith contributed the piece "Alive Behind the Labels: Women in Prison" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan.[12]

Boudin was granted parole on August 20, 2003 in her third parole hearing. She was and released from Bedford Hills Correctional Facility on September 17, 2003.[citation needed]

Life after prison[edit]

After her release from prison, Boudin 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 prospects.[13]

In May 2004, after her parole, Boudin published in the Fellowship of Reconciliation's publication Fellowship.[14] Subsequently, she received an Ed. D. from Columbia University Teachers College.[citation needed] In addition to her work at St. Luke's-Roosevelt, 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 workers.[15][better source needed]

Columbia University[edit]

Boudin was named an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work.[16][better source needed] Her appointment was controversial due to her guilty plea to a felony murder charge and her past participation in a group which carried out terrorist attacks in the United States.[17][18] Columbia School of Social Work Associate Dean Marianne Yoshioka, who hired Boudin for the adjunct-professor post in 2008, was quoted as saying that Boudin has been "an excellent teacher who gets incredible evaluations from her students each year."[17] In 2013, she was Sheinberg Scholar-in-Residence at New York University School of Law.[citation needed] The School of Law maintains a video of her lecture.[19][better source needed]

In popular culture[edit]

Boudin was a model for the title role in David Mamet's play The Anarchist (2012).[20] She also was a model for Willy Holtzman's Off-Broadway play Something You Did (2008).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Quieter Lives for 60's Militants, but Intensity of Beliefs Hasn't Faded
  2. ^ Leonard Boudin, Civil Liberties Lawyer, Dies at 77
  3. ^ Powers, Thomas (November 2, 2003). "Underground Woman". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-21. Kathy Boudin was a child of privilege, but it was the glare of public attention – not money or status – that set her apart from the ordinary run of children of middle-class professionals. It began with her father's fame as a lawyer and his many celebrated, in some cases notorious, clients, including Paul Robeson, Rockwell Kent, Joan Baez and Fidel Castro.
  4. ^ Victor Rabinowitz, 96, Leftist Lawyer, Dies
  5. ^ Malkin, Michelle (December 11, 2002). "No tears for dead cops". Jewish World Review. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  6. ^ Rudd, Mark. "The Kids are All Right". Archived from the original on May 3, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-10. On the morning of March 6, 1970, three of my comrades were building pipe bombs packed with dynamite and nails, destined for a dance of non-commissioned officers and their dates at Fort Dix, NJ, that night.
  7. ^ Resources on Prisons
  8. ^ Boudin, Kathy (1998). "Lessons from a mother's program in prison: a psychosocial approach supports women and their children". Women & Therapy. 21 (1): 103–125. doi:10.1300/J015v21n01_01. Pdf. Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Microsoft Word – Sp 05 Psy 312 Syllabus 011705.doc[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Wall tappings :an international anthology of women's prison writings, edited by Judith A. Scheffler (at Google books)
  11. ^ PEN American Center – 1998–1999 Archived 2010-06-08 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Library Resource Finder: Table of Contents for: Sisterhood is forever : the women's anth". Vufind.carli.illinois.edu. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  13. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (September 17, 2003). "Boudin Freed From Prison After Serving 22 Years". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-04. Kathy Boudin, the former 1960's radical and fugitive, walked out of prison into the brilliant September sunshine today, 22 years after her involvement in an armored-car robbery that left three dead. Appearing relaxed but unsmiling, Ms. Boudin turned around in the parking lot at 8:45 a.m. and spent a few minutes waving a slow farewell to her friends among the inmate population, who were watching her departure from inside the prison.
  14. ^ Boudin, Kathy. "Making a Different Way of Life". Archived from the original on 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
  15. ^ Columbia University School of Social Work Faculty Profile
  16. ^ Kathy Boudin, Assistant Professor, Columbia University School of Social Work
  17. ^ a b Celona, Larry; Dan Mangan (April 2, 2013). "Outrage 101: Radical Jailed in Slay Now Columbia Prof". New York Post. Retrieved 2013-04-14. Former Weather Underground radical Kathy Boudin — who spent 22 years in prison for an armored-car robbery that killed two cops and a Brinks guard — now holds a prestigious adjunct professorship at Columbia University's School of Social Work, The Post has learned.
  18. ^ Knight, Robert (April 11, 2013). "Hometown Outrage at Boudin Hiring". Rockland County Times. Retrieved 2013-04-14. Shocked at last week's Rockland County Times revelation that Columbia University has hired convicted, jailed and released Weather Underground terrorist Kathy Boudin as an adjunct professor, a furious Orangetown Town Board Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution of condemnation, and has demanded the university terminate Boudin immediately and send letters of apology to the families of the three officers killed during the infamous 1981 Brinks armored truck robbery in Nanuet and Nyack.
  19. ^ 19th Annual Rose Sheinberg Lecture on YouTube
  20. ^ Lahr, John (10 December 2012). "Rough Justice". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved 18 July 2016.

Further reading[edit]