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Weather Underground activist who had role in deadly 1981 Brink's robbery dies at 78

May 2 (UPI) -- Kathy Boudin, an activist with the group Weather Underground who was sent to prison for an armored truck robbery that killed three people, has died after a battle with cancer. She was 78.

Boudin died on Sunday, the Center for Justice at Columbia University said Monday. She'd helped to found the Center for Justice after earning a doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College in 2007.

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After graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1965, Boudin was soon radicalized by the anti-war and racial justice movements of the 1960 and began a lifelong crusade as an activist, organizer, teacher and champion of social justice, the institution said in a statement.

Boudin joined the radical left-wing Weather Underground and was charged with robbery and murder stemming from an aborted Oct. 20, 1981, attack on an armored car north of New York City. Two police officers and a Brink's guard were killed in a shootout that followed.

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At the time of the robbery, Boudin hadn't been seen in public for more than a decade. She was on the run from authorities, including the FBI, after being last seen running naked from a Greenwich Village apartment that was doubling as a Weather Underground bomb factory. The factory exploded, killing three of her colleagues.

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Boudin was eventually apprehended and convicted in the deadly Brink's robbery and spent 22 years in prison before her release in 2003. Her son Chesa -- who is now district attorney of San Francisco -- was only 14 months old at the time. He was with his mother when she died Sunday.

"My mom fought cancer for seven years in her unshakably optimistic and courageous way," Chesa Boudin said in the institution's statement.

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"She made it long enough to meet her grandson, and welcome my father home from prison after 40 years. She always ended phone calls with a laugh, a habit acquired during the 22 years of her incarceration, when she wanted to leave every person she spoke with, especially me, with joy and hope. She lived redemption, constantly finding ways to give back to those around her."

Boudin's partner David Gilbert was also present during her death Sunday. He was also convicted for his role in the robbery and spent 40 years in prison before being released in 2021, after his sentence was shortened by former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Center for Justice said that Boudin was remorseful about the 1981 robbery that killed three people.

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"Kathy entered Bedford Hills Correctional Facility with remorse for her role in the deadly robbery, and serious questions about the role of violence in political movements and the consequences of her political choices," the center said.

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