[Pnews] David Gilbert, convicted of murder in the Brinks robbery, was rightly granted clemency

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 2 12:16:30 EDT 2021

Gilbert, convicted of murder in the Brinks robbery, was rightly granted
September 2, 2021

We well remember the 1981 Brinks robbery and murders of two Nyack police
officers and a Brinks guard that devastated our community. Former Gov.
Andrew Cuomo’s compassionate announcement of clemency for David Gilbert,
in his last hours in office, has reopened some of these old wounds. The
grief and loss experienced by the families of Sgt. Edward O’Grady, Officer
Waverly Brown and Peter Page lasts to this day. We lift healing prayers for
their families who have lived with this loss for so long, and the tenets of
our common faiths compel us to work for the end to the violence that robbed
them of their loved ones.

And we also believe that Cuomo’s action, after a thorough consideration of
Gilbert’s record of the last 40 years in prison, was the right thing to
do. For justice to be made real, we must shift our society’s responses to
violence from the current approaches that are proven not to work. Healing
requires accountability, repairand restoration. From our interfaith-based
perspective of reconciliation, we urge our brother and sister New Yorkers
to embrace the spirit of forgiveness and the recognition of Gilbert’s
rehabilitation and remorse. We believe that will allow our community to
move beyond hatred and the search for revenge.

Our country stands out globally for its extreme policies of incarceration
and sentencing. Too many young people are sent to prison for too long. Once
in jail, although our nation and New York State invest resources in
rehabilitation programs, people are too often punished for who they were,
not who they have become. We are reminded of last October’s Papal
Encyclical that called for rethinking social charity and justice approaches
and “forgiving not forgetting.” Long prison sentences are designed more for
punishment and revenge than for rehabilitation and remorse. If we can move
beyond the rage we feel for even the worst criminal acts, experience shows
that lives can be saved, families reunited, and transformative behavior
rewarded. Otherwise, the cycle of violence continues.
[image: On Oct. 20, 1981, Brinks robbery suspects Kathy Boudin, David
Gilbert, (who gave his name as James Hackforth) and Judith Clark are led
from Nyack Police Headquarters after their arraignment on felony murder

Gilbert, 76, is but one example. His remorse for the crime is well known.
His work as an AIDS peer counselor with his fellow inmates saved lives
inside and outside of prison. As an anti-violence teacher, he developed a
record of encouraging younger men in prison to embrace faith and hope.
Outside of prison, that work can continue, while sending the message to
others inside that we, as a society, will recognize and respect real
change. From our perspective — as leaders of the Fellowship of
Reconciliation,* an* organization with long ties to Nyack and Rockland
County that has been based here since the mid-1950s — we believe that
Cuomo’s last clemency was thoughtfully considered and well-deserved.
[image: John Hanchar speaks at the Brinks Robbery Memorial in Nyack about
ex-governor Cuomo commuting the 75 year prison sentence of David Gilbert to
40 years served and making him eligible from early release by a parole
board from a life term for the triple murder convictions in the 1981 Brinks
robbery Aug. 24, 2021. Hanchar's uncle, Nyack Police Sgt. Edward OÕGrady
was killed in the robbery.]

*The Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson is executive director of the Fellowship
of Reconciliation. Matt Meyer is the former national council co-chair of
the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Ethan Vesely-Flad is director of national
organizing of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.*
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