Political Terrorists Tried for 1981 Brink’s Robbery

People v. Boudin, 457 N.Y.S.2d 302 (App. Div. 1982)

After the robbery of a Brink’s truck at the Nanuet Mall, police stopped a U-Haul on the New York State Thruway. It was rush hour, October 20, 1981. The woman in the passenger seat, Kathy Boudin, got out and pleaded with the cops to lower their guns. They did. Then the U-Haul’s big rear door slid upward and outburst six men with automatic weapons. Two police officers died.

The Brink’s robbery was a joint operation of members of disparate, mostly defunct political terrorist groups, including the Black Liberation Army, the May 19th Organization, the Republic of New Afrika, and the Weather Underground. This new group called itself The Family. Among them was Boudin, famous survivor of an explosion that killed three of her comrades and left her reeling on West 11th Street, New York. Also present was Mutulu Shakur, founder of Lincoln Detox in the South Bronx, a drug rehab facility that doubled as a recruiting center for radicals.

Police eventually apprehended the robbery participants, Shakur last, in 1986. Because of the sporadic arrests, the trials were years apart, and because of the Black Liberation Army’s reputation for prison breaks (they helped Assata Shakur escape in 1978), security was tight in each of the four trials.

All are now dead or still in prison, with the exception of Boudin: her father’s law partner worked out a plea bargain, and she was paroled in 2003. She is now an adjunct professor at Columbia.