October 20 will mark the 35th anniversary of the infamous Brink’s Robbery, in which a group of left-wing radicals affiliated with the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army carried out a robbery of a Brink’s armored vehicle at the Nanuet Mall and proceeded to attempt a getaway in a U-haul truck, eventually getting stopped at a road block in Nyack and opening fire on law enforcement there.
Brink’s guard Peter Paige was killed during the Nanuet heist and Sgt. Edward O’Grady and Officer Waverly “Chipper” Brown were killed during the shootout in Nyack.
The three victims of the attack will again be honored 4 p.m., Thursday, October 20 during the annual ceremony at the Mountainview Avenue, Nyack entrance to the New York State Thruway, the location where the attack place. A historical placard, bench and American flag has been placed at the location.
Hundreds of police officers, friends, family and supporters are expected at the event. Former Rockland Sheriff James Kralik was on duty that day in 1981. He will be the keynote speaker at this year’s memorial.
The radicals, who called themselves “The Family” managed to steal $1.6 million in the Nanuet Brink’s robbery and murder, which they intended to use to fund their radical activities including an attempt to create an all-black nation in the southern USA. The $1.6 million was to be stashed along with the proceeds of several other robberies by the radicals in prior months, but the situation would climax in bloody showdown at the Nyack roadblock instead.
A total of six armed men burst out of the back of the U-haul, guns blazing. After ambushing the cops, the radicals hopped in other cars. Three were arrested that day, but it took nearly five years to apprehend all the assailants in the case.
In addition to the taking the lives of O’Grady and Brown, Detective Arthur Keenan and Officer Brian Lennon were injured. Brinks guard Joseph Trombino also was injured during the robbery earlier. Notably, Trombino was also witness to the Brinks tragedy and two terror attacks during his life, surviving the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, before dying in the 2001 terrorist attack.
Famous radicals David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin were getaway drivers during the robbery. Despite police describing Boudin as helping to set the stage for the ambush, she is the only Brinks terrorist to have been paroled, let go in 2002 after serving 22 years. It was revealed in 2013 that she had granted an adjunct professor role at Columbia University in 2008, causing much outrage in Rockland.
Federal authorities dismantled what was left of the 1960s and 70s radical network in the aftermath of Brink’s. One person who spent time in jail for refusing to cooperate in the Brinks investigation was former-Weather Underground member Bernardine Dohrn, wife of Weathermen leader Bill Ayers. Mutulu Shakur was deemed the mastermind of the robberies and was recently denied parole.
Both Dohrn and Shakur have interesting connections to society, as President Barack Obama’s first fundraiser in Chicago was held in Ayers and Dohrn’s living room and Shakur is the stepfather of the later rapper Tupac Shakur.