Marilyn Buck dies at 62; leftist incarcerated for 25 years for role in violent attacks in the 1980s

Associated Press

Marilyn Buck, a violent leftist incarcerated for 25 years for her role in some of the most notorious radical acts of the 1980s, including the bombing of the U.S. Capitol and a deadly armored car heist, died Tuesday in New York. She was 62.

Buck had been paroled July 15 from a federal prison hospital in Fort Worth. Her death was confirmed by federal probation and parole agencies. Friends and supporters wrote that the cause of death was uterine cancer.

Buck belonged to a clique of antiwar and civil rights activists who took up arms in the 1970s and participated in a series of politically motivated attacks on government and corporate targets.


On Oct. 20, 1981, she was part of a group of Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army members who ambushed a Brink’s armored car carrying $1.6 million at a mall in Nanuet, N.Y.

One guard was killed at the scene and a second was badly wounded. Two police officers were subsequently killed after they pulled over one of the getaway cars.

Buck accidentally shot herself in the leg during the gun battle with police, but she escaped and remained at large for four years.

During that time, she was involved in a series of bombings that included a 1983 nighttime blast at the Capitol that didn’t injure anyone but damaged Senate offices. The bomb purportedly was placed to protest the U.S. invasion of Grenada.

After her 1985 capture in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., Buck was convicted in the Brink’s robbery and other crimes.

Prosecutors said she helped Black Liberation Army leader Joanne Chesimard, who had been convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper, escape from prison and flee to Cuba in 1979. Buck also was implicated in another armored car robbery in 1981 in which a guard was killed.


She pleaded guilty in 1988 to playing a role in the Capitol bombing, though she later said she took the deal to spare fellow radicals from lengthy prison terms.

Other bombings covered by her plea agreement included attacks on a federal building, a police union and the South African Consulate in New York City and at the National War College and Washington Navy Yard in Washington.

For the rest of her life, Buck insisted she was a victim of state oppression.

“I am a political prisoner, not a terrorist,” Buck said at a court appearance in 1988.

In jail, she wrote poetry and enjoyed the support of left-wing radicals who occasionally called for her release. Her writings earned recognition several times from the PEN American Center, a literary group that sponsors a prison writing program.

Born in Texas in 1947, Buck embraced leftist politics as a student at UC Berkeley, then joined Students for a Democratic Society after transferring to the University of Texas.

By 1973, she was in serious legal trouble for her affiliation with the Black Liberation Army. At age 26, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges that she bought guns and ammunition for the group. Buck was four years into that term in 1977 when she failed to return from a prison furlough and became a fugitive.