IYA FULANI SUNNI-ALI / CYNTHIA BOSTON SENT TO JAIL FOR SILENCE ON BRINK’S CASE
By GLENN FOWLER
Published: December 8, 1981
Cynthia Boston, who was cleared of complicity in the Brink’s armored-car robbery and shootout in Rockland County on Oct. 20, was jailed yesterday for refusing to cooperate with a Federal grand jury.
Judge Lee P. Gagliardi of Federal District Court in Manhattan held the 33-year-old Miss Boston in contempt of court and ordered her remanded to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The sentence is indeterminate and could last up to the duration of the grand jury or an 18-month maximum if she continues to refuse to testify or to provide handwriting and hair samples.
The grand jury is investigating the bungled $1.6 million robbery in which two police officers and a Brink’s guard were killed. Seized in Mississippi Farmhouse
Miss Boston was arrested a week after the robbery at a farmhouse in Gallman, Miss. Authorities in New York said she had been seen the day after the robbery cleaning out a ”safe house” used by radicals in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Her husband, William Johnson, is a fugitive in the Brink’s case.
She was freed on Nov. 5 when an automobile mechanic in New Orleans testified that she was in that city when she was supposed to have been in Mount Vernon. A grand-jury subpoena was handed to her on her release.
Yesterday, after several postponements, Miss Boston went before the grand jury and shortly afterward was told to report to Judge Gagliardi. She asserted, as she has since her arrest, that she would not testify unless she could have the counsel of her choice, Chokwe Lumumba, a Detroit lawyer who has been barred from representing her.
Miss Boston and Mr. Lumumba are members of the Republic of New Afrika, which seeks to establish separate nationhood for black Americans. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has termed it a terrorist group. 50 of Her Supporters Demonstrate
About 50 supporters of Miss Boston picketed outside the United States Court House in Foley Square and sought entry to the courtroom. They protested loudly when Judge Gagliardi ordered the courtroom cleared,
while grand-jury minutes were being read.
William M. Kunstler, a lawyer for Katherine Boudin, a Brink’s case suspect, went to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seeking an order to prevent the closing of Judge Gagliardi’s hearing to the public and the press. When the higher court had not ruled after two recesses, the hearing was resumed with spectators barred until the reading of the minutes had been completed.
Miss Boston, wearing a black pants suit and a white turban, was asked several times by Judge Gagliardi in open court whether she intended to cooperate with the grand jury. Each time she replied that her rights under the Sixth Amendment were being violated by the court’s refusal to permit Mr. Lumumba to represent her.
”A sentence for contempt is a step I do not take lightly,” the judge told her. ”You have had ample opportunity to come forth.” He then found her guilty of contempt and ordered her to jail.
”Free the land!” Miss Boston shouted, with her right fist upraised. Several of her supporters echoed the cry as she was led out in handcuffs.
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