Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted by Prison Guards

9/11/2017

Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted by Prison Guards

Black Panther Party political prisoner Herman Bell was viciously assaulted by guards at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock) on September 5, 2017. While being “escorted” by a guard back to his housing unit, a guard struck Herman, age 69, in the face causing his glasses to drop to the floor. He pushed Herman against the wall, Herman stumbled and fell to the ground. The guard then continued viciously hitting and kicking Herman. Very soon about 5 other guards arrived and joined in the violent attack, hitting and kicking Herman all over his body. He was also maced in the eye and face. One of the guards kneed Herman in the chest causing two cracked ribs. At one point, one of the guards took Herman's head and slammed it very hard into the pavement three times. Herman said when this happened he thought he was at the end of his life.

Herman was put in an isolation unit and left there alone for hours, with no care or place to lay down. Herman was then taken to the prison infirmary. X-rays have confirmed that he has fractured ribs. Herman’s left eye is damaged from the mace and blows. He has bruises to his body and is suffering headaches, a possible sign of a concussion. He showed the doctor his hands and wanted the doctor to make note of the fact that he had no cuts, abrasions, or bruises on his hands that indicate he struck no one.

Herman Bell has now been charged with “assault on staff.” Defying common sense, they allege that Herman, for no apparent reason, slapped the guard escorting him. He did this, they claim, in a location out of the view of all inmates but in the presence of other guards. He is nowin the Special Housing Unit (box) at Five Points Correctional Facility where he was transferred after the incident.

Herman Bell has not had a disciplinary violation in over 20 years. He had been scheduled to begin a three day family visit with his wife a few days after the incident, their first such visit in over 2 1/2 years. In addition he is to appear before the parole board, for the 8th time, in February 2018.

The vicious and unprovoked attack by Comstock prison guards on Herman Bell is not only flagrant staff abuse but egregious elder abuse. We demand that Acting DOCCS Director Anthony Annucci regain control of his lawless staff members. He can set an example that such criminal staff misconduct will not be tolerated by dismissing the bogus charge of staff assault brought against Herman. Both Mr Annucci and Governor Cuomo must ensure that they will protect the lives of all prisoners.

At this time, we are encouraging everyone to take the time to write to Herman or send him a get-well card, so that the authorities know we are concerned for Herman. Further requests for actions of support will be posted soon.

Herman Bell’s new address is:
Herman Bell 79 C 0262
Shawangunk CF
P.O. Box 700
Wallkill, NY 12589-0700

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What you can do to support Herman Bell

Dear Friends,

We are asking that you email Anthony Annucci, Commissioner of New York Dept. of Corrections and also NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. Please use this sample letter

Anthony Annucci
Commissioner
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Anthony.Annucci@doccs.ny.gov
(518) 457-8134

Cc: Governor Andrew Cuomo
https://www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
(212) 257-6405

Dear Commissioner Annucci:

I am writing in concern and outrage over the unprovoked beating by Great Meadow C.F. correctional officers of Herman Bell, #79C0262.

On September 5th, with no provocation, five or six correctional officers assaulted this widely respected elder. These guards punched and kicked Mr. Bell all over his body while he was on the ground.  He was kneed in the chest and stomach, breaking two of his ribs.  One guard then grabbed his head and slammed it into the ground three times, at which point Mr. Bell thought his life would be ending.  He was excessively maced at close range all over his face and eyes, causing temporarily blindness and inability to breathe. 

Mr. Bell is accused of assaulting one of the officers. This charge is absurd. The assault on Herman Bell is part of an epidemic of violence by NYS prison guards against the incarcerated population--an epidemic documented by the New York Times and other journalists, as well as by criminal justice agencies.

The idea that this 69-year-old man would have hit an officer is ludicrous, as he was about to have a family visit (the first in two and a half years) and was beginning preparations for an appearance at the Board of Parole this coming February. Mr. Bell was looking forward to the family visit with great anticipation, and he is optimistic about his chances at the Board, given recent changes in parole regulations and the appointment of new commissioners. There is absolutely no doubt that he did not commit any infraction on September 5th; he also has not had a ticket in the past 20 years.  Mr. Bell has been imprisoned in the NY State system for over 38 years and has never been accused of assaulting staff. 

This brutal assault by Great Meadow guards constitutes not only staff abuse but also elder abuse.  Mr. Bell will be 70 years of age in four months.  He was badly injured in the beating. Mr. Bell requires both a CT scan of his head and an ophthalmology examination.

I write to demand that you take these actions:

That Herman Bell be immediately given adequate medical screening and attention at an outside hospital;

That CO J. Saunders and the other officers responsible for the beating be fired;

That the ridiculous charges brought against Herman Bell be dropped immediately and that he be returned at least to general population (he had been on the Honor Block at Great Meadow and despite his request was never given a reason for being moved to general population);

That Mr. Bell’s family visits be reinstated;

That Mr. Bell be moved to a facility where his family visiting can take place and be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Sincerely,

NAME/ADDRESS
_______________________________________________

We are asking people to write letters to Anthony Annucci, Commissioner of New York Dept. of Corrections making the following demands: (a sample letter follows that we would like you to use)

That Herman Bell be immediately given adequate medical screening and attention at an outside hospital;

That CO J Saunders and the other officers responsible for the beating be fired; DROP THE CHARGES -

That the ridiculous charges brought against Herman be dropped immediately

Mr. Bell should be returned at least to general population (he had been on the Honor Block at Great Meadow and despite his request was never given a reason for being moved to general population);

That Mr. Bell’s family visits be reinstated; That Mr. Bell be moved to a facility where his family visiting can take place and be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

_____________________________________

Anthony Annucci
Commissioner Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
1220 Washington Ave
Albany, NY 12226

Dear Commissioner Annucci:

I am writing in concern and outrage over the unprovoked beating by Great Meadow C.F. correctional officers of Herman Bell, #79C0262.

On September 5th, with no provocation, correctional officers assaulted this widely respected elder. The recreation yard was being closed following a disturbance in which Herman had no part. He was told to line up with hands behind his back, which he did. When all other men on the yard were escorted through one door back into the prison, only Herman was escorted into a separate entrance and into a hallway with no one around except correctional officers—and with no surveillance cameras. In the hall, one officer began beating Herman in the face, breaking his glasses and knocking him to the floor. That guard continued to punch and kick Mr. Bell while he was on the ground. Around 5-6 additional guards arrived at this scene and joined in, punching and kicking Mr. Bell all over his body while he was on the ground. He was kneed in the chest and stomach, breaking two of his ribs. One guard then grabbed his head and slammed it into the ground three times, at which point Mr. Bell thought his life would be ending. He was excessively maced at close range all over his face and eyes, causing temporarily blindness and inability to breathe.

After being brought to the prison infirmary, Mr. Bell was not treated right away but was left alone for hours in an isolation cell. When staff finally looked in on him, he asked why he was there and was told he was accused of assaulting one of the officers. This charge is absurd.

The idea that this 69-year-old man would have hit an officer is ludicrous, as he was about to have a family visit (the first in two and a half years) and was beginning preparations for an appearance at the Board of Parole this coming February. People who had spoken to Herman on the phone the day before the incident attest to the fact that he was looking forward to the family visit with great anticipation, and that he was optimistic about his chances at the Board, given recent changes in parole regulations and the appointment of new commissioners. He had expressed similar thoughts and feelings to many of his friends and family. There is absolutely no doubt that he did not commit any infraction on September 5th; he also has not had a ticket in the past 20 years. He has never been accused of assaulting staff.

This brutal assault by Great Meadow guards constitutes not only staff abuse but also elder abuse. Mr. Bell will be 70 years of age in four months. He was badly injured in the beating. An X-ray, the only diagnostic screening he received for his injuries, revealed two cracked ribs, and he has a massive, swollen black eye and bruises all over his body. He has suffered severe headaches due to the beat-down, and the vision in his left eye – which remains completely red – is seriously impaired. Mr. Bell requires both a CT scan of the head and an ophthalmology examination.

I write to demand that you take these actions:

That Herman Bell be immediately given adequate medical screening and attention at an outside hospital;

That CO J Saunders and the other officers responsible for the beating be fired;

That the ridiculous charges brought against Herman be dropped immediately and that he be returned at least to general population (he had been on the Honor Block at Great Meadow and despite his request was never given a reason for being moved to general population);

That Mr. Bell’s family visits be reinstated;

That Mr. Bell be moved to a facility where his family visiting can take place and be rescheduled at the earliest possible date.

Sincerely,

NAME/ADDRESS

Stay connected with Herman Bell