herman bell, member of the san francisco eight, denied parole for the sixth time

by Tim Phillips

Former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army member Herman Bell went before a New York parole board for the sixth time last week. After four decades behind bars, he was seeking an end to a sentence of 25 years to life. According to Sunday’s KQED article about Bell and Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom),

Bell and Anthony Bottom were both convicted of murder in 1975 for shooting New York police Patrolmen Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini to death. In addition, Bell took a plea deal of manslaughter in 2009 for the 1971 killing of San Francisco police Sgt. John Young. … Bell and Bottom recently admitted to ambushing the New York patrolmen, Jones and Piagentini, as they responded to a fake 911 call.

Even though Bell has an exemplary record in prison, having earned a master’s degree and started a program to teach urban and rural communities to grow organic produce, the parole board denied his request again yesterday. At the behest of the police, the parole board is effectively turning Bell’s sentence into life without parole. This is contrary to the wishes of Jones’s son, Waverly Jones Jr., who wrote a letter to the parole board in 2009 saying that releasing Bell and Muntaqim would “bring some peace” to Jones’s family.

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