“I had a math teacher,” Diane O’Grady recalls of her 1960s college education. “He said he had a guest speaker coming in who would like to talk politics and the war, and attendance was mandatory.”
O’Grady, fully imbibing the times, attended the strange session with an open mind.
“I went,” she tells Breitbart News. “I was squeezed in the corner. The place was packed. You could see people sneaking out the door. I remember just listening to the hatred and the anger. We left, we just left.”
For over a decade, the bizarre event, resulting in a failing course grade after the professor dubbed the non sequitur lecture the math class’s final examination, remained packed deep in Diane O’Grady memory banks to yellow and collect dust if not for a cataclysmic event that altered her life forever. O’Grady’s husband Ed, a Vietnam veteran and sergeant with the Nyack, New York, police department, lost his life in a 1981 shootout with a revolutionary gang that that stole $1.6 million from a Brink’s truck outside a nearby mall.
A college classmate called with the bizarre news that the woman who distracted law enforcement as gunmen emerged from the back of her UHaul to kill O’Grady’s husband was in fact the same firebrand who had harangued them more than a decade earlier. Kathy Boudin, Students for a Democratic Society activist, morphed into Kathy Boudin, domestic terrorist.
“I kept saying ‘No,”’ O’Grady notes. “Then when I saw her face I realized it was her. I was shocked. I remember running up to the bedroom to tell Ed.”
But Ed O’Grady, like fellow cop Waverly Brown and Brink’s guard Peter Paige, lay dead, unable to hear about the strange woman’s strange reemergence into his wife’s life. Like an amputee searching for the phantom limb, Mrs. O’Grady repeatedly turned to the part of her that was no longer there in the intervening years. Ed O’Grady ceased to exist in part because Kathy Boudin, employing a more gentle approach than she did in that classroom years before, implored him to order cops to put down their weapons. They did, and heavily armed men emerged shooting from the back of the gang’s UHaul.
The math class close encounter of the weird kind recently came back again to Diane O’Grady. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo commuted the bulk of the mandatory sentence of Judith Clark—like Boudin, a red-diaper baby, Weatherman, and ultimately a member of the May 19 Communist Organization—which pushes back her first parole hearing from 2056 to this year.
“Now I can’t close my eyes without nightmares anymore,” she explains to Breitbart News. “It’s blown me out of the water.”
It’s a feeling that returns every few years. Boudin, who received wiser counsel than Clark, stoked it when she won her release in 2003.
Boudin, the daughter of a prominent left-wing lawyer, grew up in the brownstone later used as the facade on the opening of The Cosby Show to display the affluence of the Huxtables. As a Hessian fighting the class war for the workers, Boudin led a protest at Bryn Mawr over the meager salaries awarded to maids for cleaning dorm rooms. The school responded to Boudin’s crusade by announcing a gradual elimination of the positions. Infamously, a battered Boudin fled an obliterated Greenwich Village townhouse after her friends blew themselves up, rather than the soldiers they wanted to kill at Fort Dix, in early 1970. This pattern of activism boomeranging back against her causes continued on October 20, 1981, when she played a decoy in distress enabling her comrades to murder Waverly Brown, the first black policeman on the Nyack, New York, police force, and O’Grady’s husband, as they emerged, guns firing, from the back of her UHaul. Whereas Judith Clark drove the gunmen to kill Brink’s guard Peter Paige, Boudin drove them to kill two cops.
“My husband was shot nine times in the back,” O’Grady points out, noting that he reloaded as the criminals unloaded on him. “They could have gotten away. They didn’t have to shoot Ed.”
The announcement in late 2016, like the one in 1981, took her by surprise.
“It was December 29, on my way to babysit my grandchildren,” she explained to Breitbart News. “The district attorney called. I pulled over. He told me. I was stunned, I was absolutely stunned. It came out of nowhere.”
The painful conversations between her and her kids in 1981 repeated between her kids and their grandkids.
“My granddaughter asked, ‘Who’s Judith Clark?’ She’s nine.”
By the time Judith Clark turned nine, she had lived in the Soviet Union, read articles by her father in the Daily Worker, and summered at Mohegan Colony with other red-diaper babies. She became a Weatherman, indicted by the authorities for her role in Chicago’s Days of Rage and by common sense for glorifying Charles Manson at the group’s infamous Flint “War Party” that struck an ominous coda to the 1960s. Alone among the high-level Weathermen, she failed to evade her pursuers, spitting, kicking, and swearing at the FBI agents who arrested her in 1970. Serving time failed to bring the epiphany that her father experienced about Communism after living in the Soviet Union and later reading about Nikita Khrushchev’s revelations about Joseph Stalin’s rule.
She emerged as an uncharged co-racketeer in the indictments surrounding cop-killer Assata Shakur’s 1979 break from a New Jersey prison and, according to a member of the Black Liberation Army, played an armed role in a June of 1981 robbery of a Brink’s truck in the Bronx that left one guard disabled and another dead. When cops arrested her at gunpoint after she crashed a getaway car containing $800,000 following the Nanuet robbery, she wore a wig, possessed a .380 handgun, and displayed shards of glass from the shot-up UHaul and police car on her person. Her hatred of law enforcement, unabated since her colorful 1970 arrest, manifested in her once again spitting, kicking, and swearing as authorities—this time, in no mood for such tantrums, placing her in a straitjacket—led her to a police lineup. She called cops “fascist dogs” during her trial.
Her defiance contrasted sharply with a cowered Boudin’s compliance with the system. Clark had finally emerged from her more famous colleague’s shadow. A source told the Washington Post at the time, “Judith Clark is the leader who would have outranked Kathy Boudin.” Former FBI special agent Don Wofford explains to Breitbart News, “She was a minor-league Weatherman but she was a major-league May 19 person.”
The governor, who says he looked into Judith Clark’s soul during a conversation with her in the Bedford Correctional Institution for Women, did not speak to O’Grady before making the announcement.
“I have not been contacted, absolutely not,” she tells Breitbart News. “No one in his office has reached out to me whatsoever. The only people I have heard from is victim’s impact [Office of Victim Services].”
The governor surely heard from others. Clark’s volunteerism, after a conviction for involvement in an escape plot, gained her admiration as a rehabilitation success story. Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler, Actors Glen Close, Kevin Kline, and Steve Buscemi lent their famous names to Clark’s cause. The New York Times Magazine made Clark a covergirl in 2012. After years of defiance, Clark uses in the new century words such as “appalled” and “ashamed” to describe her actions.
“I hope that conservative cost-cutting and some kind of humanitarianism comes into our culture to let these people out,” former Weatherman colleague Mark Rudd tells Breitbart News. “There are certain prisoners who have suffered enough. They are no threat to anyone. Judy Clark is no threat to anybody.”
Kathy Boudin, who O’Grady first encountered in a classroom nearly a half-century ago, now makes a living lecturing college students. Judith Clark may soon join her in front of a classroom should her parole hearing, tentatively scheduled for early March, gain her release.
“She and I and Judith Clark—we’re all the same age,” O’Grady reflects. “But I grew up.”