Brink's Trial Sentencing, Goshen, New York 1984; Brink's Trial, Judith Clark, Dave Gilbert, Donald Weens, Judge David S. Ritter

Black Liberation Army member: Donald Weems; Former Weather Underground members: David Gilbert and Judith Clark; Judge David S. Ritter




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Cathlyn Wilkerson

The Weathermen were a radical offshoot of Students for a Democratic Society. Though the faction expressed support for women’s liberation and Black Power, it was composed almost entirely of upper-middle-class whites. Members were urged “to be willing to fight people, and fight things in ourselves . . . white privilege, racism, male supremacy.” Cathlyn Wilkerson (raised in Connecticut, educated at Swarthmore) became a member in 1969.

On March 6, 1970, Weathermen at a Manhattan townhouse belonging to Wilkerson’s father were trying to construct a nail bomb. A nail bomb uses bits of shrapnel to produce a larger radius of destruction and increase its wounding ability. The Weathermen intended to set off these devices at Fort Dix Army base as well as at Columbia University, but Weatherman Terry Robbins short-circuited the timer. So little was left of him that his remains went unidentified until the Weathermen claimed him as a fallen comrade. Weathermen Ted Gold and Diana Oughton were also killed. Wilkerson and Kathy Boudin escaped the explosion and went into hiding. Wilkerson evaded capture for 10 years.

On July 8, 1980, Wilkerson surrendered. She spent 11 months in jail for possession of dynamite.

Upon release, she became a math teacher. In a 2003 interview with The New York Times, Wilkerson, expressing only vague remorse, said of the Weathermen’s violent agenda, “[I]t looked like it was going to be the main vehicle for ushering in popular governments.”

In the same article, Professor Harvey Klehr of Emory University pointed out, “The only reason they were not guilty of mass murder is mere incompetence.” 

Antiestablishment Bomber Patricia Swinton is Acquitted

U.S. v. Swinton, 400 F. Supp. 805 (S.D.N.Y. 1975)

From July 27 to November 12, 1969, eight New York buildings were bombed. Hours after the last bombing, an FBI informant arrested Sam Melville, along with suspected accomplices Jane Alpert and David Hughey III. A fourth member of their group, Patricia Swinton, was unaccounted for.

Sam Melville pleaded guilty to conspiracy. As the group’s leader, he received a 13-year term out of a maximum 25. Jane Alpert and David Hughey III were sentenced to 27 months and two years, respectively, after pleading guilty to the same charge. In 1971, Melville helped to organize the Attica Prison riot and was shot to death when state police retook the facility.

The FBI captured Patricia Swinton on March 12, 1975—five years after she went into hiding—on a commune in Vermont. She was using the name “Shoshona.” “[O]ne of the ways the Government is willing to use its power [is] to get political dissenters,” she said after her acquittal that September. Neither Alpert nor Hughey would agree to testify against Swinton, which left the prosecution with a weak case.  Swinton was acquitted after a five-day trial.

FALN bomb-maker, William Morales on Trial

U.S. v. Morales, 460 F. Supp. 666 (E.D.N.Y. 1978)

The FALN, or Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, was a terrorist organization dedicated to securing Puerto Rico’s independence. From 1974 to 1983, the FALN claimed responsibility for over 120 bombings on American soil.

On July 12, 1978, FALN member William Morales was building a bomb in a Queens apartment when the device exploded, blowing off both of his hands, destroying one eye, and damaging part of his face. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition while police found 66 sticks of dynamite and 200 pounds of bomb-making material, at the time the largest cache of explosives recovered in New York City.

The following April, Justice Kenneth Browne sentenced Morales to multiple consecutive sentences. Morales said, “They’re not going to hold me forever.”

He was right. On May 21, 1979, Morales escaped from Bellevue Hospital, where doctors had intended to fit him with prosthetic hands. Susan Tipograph, a well-known radical attorney, allegedly smuggled Morales a pair of bolt cutters, which he tied to the ends of his arms and used to cut through a screen. He then climbed down three stories on a rope made from bandages.

Morales next emerged in Mexico. He joined another rebel group, got arrested again, and spent five years in a Mexican prison. When he was released in 1988, Mexican officials let Morales abscond to Cuba rather than face extradition.

DA Jeffrey Samel, Wm. Kunstler, James York, Judge Thomas Agresta

Justice Thomas S. Agresta presides over trial of James D. York and Anthony LaBorde for the murder of Officer Scarangella. York and LaBorde were represented by William Kunstler. Prosecutor Jeffrey Samel also appears. LaBorde wears a bandage on his head.




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