69 Year Old Black Panther Beaten in Prison

“Before and during these 43 years in prison, I’ve lived according to my beliefs, fought for my self-respect, my community, and for social justice; along the way I’ve helped people where I could and have striven to make myself a better human being.  I’ve kept faith with the belief that we humans are responsible for each other and for the welfare of all.  So what to make of these long years in prison, I cannot say, I’m still here. All Power To The People!”

-Herman Bell, 69-year old grandfather,
former member of the Black Panther Party, and political prisoner

Many of us have been horrified at the recent beating of political prisoner Herman Bell, a 69-year old grandfather and former member of the Black Panther Party who has been incarcerated for more than 40 years. In an unprovoked attack, five correction officers at Comstock Prison in upstate New York beat, kicked and maced Herman, slamming his head into the concrete and leaving him with two broken ribs, severe head trauma and damage to his eyes.

After i was released from serving time as a political prisoner, I connected with Herman. He is someone I have written to and visited over the last two decades; it’s impossible to communicate how much I’ve learned from him about keeping faith in the struggle when so much in the world seems harsh and cold. Knowing Herman is a gift, and his humanity, his warmth and his love for his people come through in every visit, every letter.

This movement elder, who has not had a disciplinary violation in over 20 years, is now facing charges of “assault on staff” and was transferred to a prison where he is in isolation.

Here’s what you can do to support him:

1) Write to Herman to let him know that he has community support, and to let the authorities know that we are concerned for him.

Herman Bell 79 C 0262
Five Points CF
6600 State Route 96
Caller Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541

2)   Email (one click to send) Anthony Annucci, Commissioner of New York Dept. of Corrections and NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. Sample Letter in email link.

3)  Learn more about Herman and other political prisoners, and join campaigns for their freedom:

When people ask me why I think this abuse would happen to Herman now, I draw a straight line from Trump, who encourages police violence by telling cops “don’t be too nice” to prisoners in their custody, and an Attorney General who thinks “it’s a real problem when we have Black Lives Matter making statements that are really radical.” In this political climate, we anticipate state violence directed against our movements, and political prisoners are a likely targets of the state’s wrath.

Defending those who are imprisoned for fighting for us is a necessary part of defending our movements.

As a former political prisoner, I can tell you that every show of support – a card or letter, a visit to a prisoner, as well as an email written to authorities on a prisoner’s behalf – makes all the difference between isolation and connection. Please do what you can to support Herman today!

Love and rage,

Donna Willmott
Catalyst Project