Cory Franklin column: Ousted Prosecutor Chesa Boudin and Family Karma

By Cory Franklin

Wisdom from The Holy Bible to Shakespeare admonishes that the sins of the father are visited upon the son.

But in the case of progressive San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin the sins of the whole family have been visitors.  Which makes for some interesting backstories in his recent humiliating recall by San Francisco vosaters.

The progressive Boudin was booted out of the DA’s office by a wide margin, in the most liberal city in America, because voters had enough.

They had enough of vagrancy, open drug markets, and violent attacks, especially on Asian-Americans. He lost 55% to 45%, but hey – no responsibility for Chesa.

He kept insisting that his policies, including ignoring minor crimes and letting people avoid jail, had simply not had enough time to work. He blamed the recall on a coordinated campaign by wealthy Republicans.  Sure. In San Francisco, the bluest large city in the country, where nearly 90% of the voters backed Biden in 2020.

Of course, denying responsibility is a page right out of the Boudin family playbook. Mom Kathy was a high-profile member of the Weathermen, the terrorist organization that emulated the tactics of Mao Tse-Tung. The group went underground and assumed the nom de guerre “Weather Underground” when Kathy fled naked from a Greenwich Village townhouse after three of her housemates were killed while devising a nail bomb, intended for a military officers’ dance, which exploded prematurely. Finally captured a decade later after her role in a robbery/murder, she denied knowledge of any explosives, although enough dynamite to level a city block was found in the ruins of the apartment.

Hypocrisy is another family heirloom. In justifying his lenient p­­olicies Chesa said, “We have two systems of justice, right? We have one for the wealthy and the well-connected and a different one for everybody else.”

Return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, the 1980s, when Kathy Boudin and Chesa’s father, David Gilbert, were getaway drivers in a Brink’s robbery in which a guard and two policemen were killed. Accounts have Kathy, pretending to be a terrified innocent bystander, pleading for policeman Edward O’Grady to holster his gun, immediately before concealed robbers shot him.

Officer Waverly Brown and Brink’s guard Peter Paige were also killed in the robbery.

Boudin and Gilbert were imprisoned for 20 and 75 years respectively, avoiding life sentences only because of clever lawyering (sharp lawyers are part of the radicals’ gameplan, especially radicals of wealthy backgrounds. Take advantage of the system you want to destroy.)

This strategy has not changed much at all.

Chesa often spoke of how the system made it difficult for him to speak with his imprisoned father. (Edward O’Grady’s daughter once responded, “I haven’t talked to my father in twenty years.”)  As District Attorney of San Francisco, Boudin personally appealed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to grant his father clemency.

Such political access may be beyond the grasp of most people sitting in prison, but not Boudin, then a budding star of the left, with the political pedigree and reach among the leading Democrats.

On Cuomo’s last day in office before resigning, Cuomo granted clemency to Gilbert, freeing him 35 years before his scheduled release in 2056. See how well a personal appeal works for your average private citizen in the murder of a policemen?

Which of the two systems of justice was that? 

There is also family karma in the Asian-American support, which was instrumental in Boudin’s recall.  Many Asian-Americans are refugees, or descendants of refugees, from despotic communist governments – China, Vietnam, Cambodia, the same governments that Chesa’s parents supported through their revolutionary activities a generation ago.

Some of the children and grandchildren of these refugees -not to mention those from Taiwan and Hong Kong who originally fled Mao’s China – are now part of the San Francisco Asian-American community.

Besides her Weather Underground cred, Kathy Boudin’s resume includes founding member of the May 19 Communist Organization, named for the birthday of North Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh.  May 19 was responsible for several bombings including one at the US Senate (though Kathy was in jail). They helped fellow revolutionary and convicted murderer JoAnne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, break out of jail and facilitated her escape to Cuba, where she remains today. Chesa Boudin was named partly in her honor.

While his parents were imprisoned, Chesa Boudin was raised in Chicago by Weathermen superstars Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.

Bill’s lawyers once helped him beat a bombing rap. He bragged afterward that he was “guilty as hell, free as a bird- America is a great country.”

Bill was the son of Commonwealth Edison Co. president and chairman Thomas G. Ayers. The electric giant has been intertwined in machine politics for many decades. The company now is intertwined in a federal criminal investigation of Boss Madigan and pay-to-play politics.

Tom Ayres ran ComEd from 1960 to 1980 and was a friend, advisor and confidant to the late Chicago Machine boss, Mayor Richard J. Daley. The sons, Bill Ayers and Mayor Richard M. Daley worked on school reform issues.

Long before he became president, Bill Ayers introduced a young Barack Obama to political Chicago.

In Chesa Boudin’s world, there are two systems of justice. He forgot there are two approaches to politics.

One for those with clout, inside family and tribal connections, “and a different one for everybody else.”

Chesa wholeheartedly endorsed his parents’ radical activities in a 2002 front-page New York Times article, “My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I’m dedicated to the same thing too.”

How the media, academia and those proud fighters against US imperialism have sanitized history to erase the consequences of the Marxist takeover in Southeast Asia.

The American involvement in Vietnam was surely a tragic mistake. But largely forgotten and little mentioned today is the savagery that occurred after the war.  The Vietnamese communists killed over a million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians, and forced another 750,000 to flee. These were the “boat people.” They also permitted the neighboring Cambodian Khmer Rouge to slaughter two million Cambodians, mass-murder on the scale of the Holocaust. This resulted in thousands more Cambodians and Laotians fleeing to the US.

Flash forward.

Some of the children and grandchildren of these refugees -not to mention those from Taiwan and Hong Kong who originally fled Mao’s China – are now part of the San Francisco Asian-American community. This group suffered a 567% increase in reported hate crimes in 2021 compared to 2020. They were at the forefront of ousting Chesa Boudin. An almost 600 percent increase in people becoming victimized because of Asian heritage, with Boudin as the prosecutor?

Think of it as generational payback.

One thing is certain: Chesa Boudin will not go underground. He hints he may run again for District Attorney but if he doesn’t have the cheek, he will probably surface as a professor teaching criminal justice at some prestigious university with a simpatico faculty and administration. Like his surrogate father, Bill Ayers, retired professor of education at University of Illinois-Chicago, Boudin can mold young minds – or maybe just indoctrinate them.

In the words of Walt Whitman, as quoted by Boudin family biographer Susan Braudy:

“I am not asleep to the fact that among radicals as among others there are hoggishnesses, narrownesses, inhumanities, which at times scare me for the future.”


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