Accuracy in Media

On January 12, 2012, The New York Times ran an article by Tom Robbins in which Robbins paints a heartfelt portrait of Judy Clark, one-time Weather Underground member and part of a conspiracy of criminals known as The Family (detailed in the book The Big Dance by John Castellucci.) Robbins paints Clark as truly regretful for her past crimes and truly a changed person. But the crimes Clark was involved in go deeper than stated in Robbins’ article, and perhaps far deeper than Robbins himself is aware. Here are the facts:

Clark was tried and convicted of three homicides that occurred in the course of an armored car robbery. The robbery was committed by a group of conspirators that referred to itself as “The Family.” The Family engaged in a number of armored car robberies on the East Coast, primarily in the New York area, and in so doing killed both armored-car guards and police. Clark was a member of the Weather Underground. She and other Family members teamed up with black radicals to commit these and other crimes. The other crimes committed by The Family included staging the escape of Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, from prison. Chesimard, who was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey State Trooper, fled to Cuba.  They also had a hand in the escape of FALN leader William Morales from the inmate ward at Bellevue Hospital in 1978.

As Robbins states, Clark was captured following a high speed chase as she fled the scene of a roadblock set up in Nyack, New York, at which two police officers were killed. The roadblock had been established in the wake of a robbery of a Brink’s truck in neighboring Nanuet, New York. At the robbery scene, a Brink’s guard was gunned down in cold blood and a second one was seriously wounded. Based on a citizen tip, the Nanuet police put out an all-points-bulletin for a Ryder truck, possibly used as an escape vehicle. It was this Ryder truck which was stopped minutes later by Nyack police and while the police questioned the white man and woman who had been in the cab of the truck, the black contingent of “The Family” emerged from the back of the truck, guns blazing. Clark was in another getaway car that managed to flee from the area. The car she was in subsequently crashed as it was being chased by police, leading to the capture of Clark, Weatherman David Gilbert, who had been driving the Ryder truck, and Family member Samuel Brown.

Clark was charged and convicted in state court for the three murders that occurred that day. But the story doesn’t end there. The investigation quickly determined that this robbery was just one of several armored-car robberies committed by The Family. Tyrone Rison, one of Clark’s co-conspirators in The Family, cooperated with authorities, telling the FBI that he and several other Family members had been responsible for breaking William Morales, a leader of the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN, out of Bellevue Hospital. Morales had been sentenced to 89 years in prison by New York State and 15 years by the Federal government after being captured in a bomb factory in Queens. He was at Bellevue being fitted for prostheses for his mangled hands when The Family staged the breakout. He had served less than a year of his sentence. Morales was subsequently arrested in Mexico in 1983, and while in custody he was interviewed by U.S. officials. During the interview he identified another Family member and co-conspirator of Clark’s as Marilyn Buck, the person who harbored him after he was broken out of Bellevue. (Buck, like Clark, had participated in the Nanuet robbery in yet another getaway car.) Morales remained in prison in Mexico for a few years before being released to Cuba where he lives today.

Another co-conspirator of Clark’s involved in The Family was Susan Rosenberg, who was also at the Nanuet robbery. She was captured in 1984 as she and a man named Timothy Blunk were in the process of moving approximately 600 pounds of explosives into a storage facility in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Among the cache of explosives was approximately 100 pounds of dynamite stolen in Texas in 1980. Dynamite from that same theft was used by the FALN in bombs placed in New York on New Year’s Eve, 1982, that seriously injured three New York City police officers. Moreover, Mr. Blunk was the husband of still another co-conspirator of Clark’s, Silvia Baraldini. Baraldini shared an apartment with Michelle Miller on the West side. When the FBI arrested Baraldini for her role in the various robberies conducted by The Family, they searched her apartment and found an actual carbon copy, not a Xerox, but carbon copy of a FALN communiqué (PDF). That particular communiqué, dated February 28, 1982, praised Clark, and co-conspirators Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert saying:

“We also wish to express our solidarity with the three north-americans (sic) captured in the Brinks expropriation. By linking up with your Black comrades and making their struggle your own you have put into practice the Leninist principal….”

So it seems that the conspiracy that Clark was part of was deeply intertwined with the FALN terrorists. The FALN, you may recall, placed a bomb in Fraunces Tavern on January 24, 1975, a Friday afternoon, while the restaurant was filled with patrons.  Four were killed and scores of people wounded. It is a crime that has never been solved. Likewise, no one has ever been held accountable for the FALN bombs on New Year’s Eve 1982 that injured three police officers, or for the FALN booby trap attack in December 1974 that left New York police officer Angel Poggi maimed and partially blind.

If, indeed, Clark is so filled with remorse for her life of crime, so aching to wash away her past sins, she could start by telling authorities everything she knows about the workings of The Family, its connection to the FALN, and exactly what she knows about who did what, when and where. If she was willing to do this, and submit to a polygraph examination regarding her statements to prove she is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and agree to testify before Grand Juries and in court, then even the law enforcement community would endorse consideration for her release. But it seems Ms. Clark has chosen to remain silent regarding these matters, matters about which she may know little (but certainly must know something.) In view of her silence in these matters, and the nature of the crimes that remain unsolved—murders of citizens and maiming of police—it’s my view that Clark should remain imprisoned. Despite her pleas for mercy and claims to have changed, she has not fulfilled the obligation of every citizen of this country—to assist in keeping the general peace and bringing those guilty of crimes to justice. The fate of Judy Clark is in the hands of Judy Clark. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth can set her free, should she decide to provide it.

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo is being urged by supporters of Judy Clark to grant her clemency and release her from prison, without providing information about other terrorist crimes. Governor Cuomo can be contacted by phone (518) 474-8390 or mail: 

    The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
    Governor of New York State
    NY State Capitol Building
    Albany, NY 12224

 

 




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