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By Jaan K. Laaman

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Political Prisoner Herman Bell Assaulted
by COs at Great Meadows

Write a Letter to Commissioner Annucci

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. This same guard then repeatedly punched Herman about the face, head and body. Responding to the commotion, 5-6 other guards arrived and joined in the assault. One of them was able to knee Herman in the chest causing two cracked ribs. Another guard took out a bottle of mace and sprayed it all over Herman’s face, eyes and mouth.

Herman was then taken to the prison infirmary. X-rays have confirmed fractured ribs. Herman’s left eye is damaged from the mace and blows. He has bruises to his body and is suffering headaches, a sign of a possible concussion.

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 now in 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 was 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.

Herman has, however, been the target of guard harassment due to his political background. Visitors report that guards processing them and in the visiting room comment that they are visiting a “cop killer” or “terrorist”. Some guards have been seen passing around the book “Badge of the Assassin” written by Herman’s prosecutor.

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 paying attention and are concerned for Herman. Stay tuned for updates as we develop this campaign.

Herman Bell’s new address is:

Herman Bell 79 C 0262
Five Points Cor. Fac.
P.O. Box 119
Romulus, N.Y. 14541

The Official Website of Herman Bell:

Below is the letter sent by Herman Bell's attorney, Bob Boyle, regarding the criminal abuse Mr. Bell suffered last week in prison. It is a tragedy and a travesty that Herman has been in prison for over 44 years. This sort of abuse cannot stand.

Please continue to write Herman and let him know he is supported and loved.

September 12, 2017

Anthony Annucci
Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
State Campus
Albany, N.Y. 12226

Dear Commissioner Annucci:

I am the attorney for Herman Bell, age 69, an inmate now at Five Points Correctional Facility. I am working with Prisoners Legal Services on this particular matter.

As I believe you are aware, on or about September 5, 2017, there was a fight between inmates in the Great Meadow Correctional Facility yard. All parties acknowledge that Mr. Bell was not involved, as he was on the telephone with his wife. Officers responded and ordered the yard closed. Mr. Bell ended the telephone call and, as directed, lined up to return to the housing units. As other inmates entered through one door, a guard, identified as C.O. J. Saunders, approached Mr. Bell, removed him from the line and escorted him to another door that leads to a corridor between two messhalls. Mr. Bell was the only inmate escorted in this manner. Once inside, now out of the view of other inmates and any cameras, another officer joined the escort. After proceeding some distance, the first officer smacked Mr. Bell. He then pushed Mr. Bell against a wall, causing him to fall to the ground. This officer then beat Mr. Bell about his head and body. Within minutes other officers arrived and joined in the beating. Among other acts, officers raised Mr. Bell’s head and slammed it against the concrete floor on at least three occasions. There were numerous blows to Mr. Bell’s face. At one point, an officer or officers raised Mr. Bell off the floor partially and kneed him in the chest and stomach. Mace was sprayed in Mr. Bell’s face, including his eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, Mr. Bell was raised off the floor and taken to the prison infirmary.

An x-ray confirmed broken ribs. In addition to overall pain and bruising, Mr. Bell’s left eye is injured, resulting in a loss of vision. He is suffering from headaches. Instead of taking him to an outside hospital, your staff moved him to Five Points Correctional Facility where he was served with a disciplinary ticket and placed in SHU. On Friday September 8, I telephoned Prison Health Services. I informed them that Mr. Bell had not received blood pressure medication and prescribed eye drops. I was assured they would be provided. I learned today that the medication was not provided until Sunday September 10. This is irresponsible and dangerous. Although Mr. Bell likely suffered a concussion, there has been no CT scan of his head to rule out a subdural hematoma or other head injury. Neurologists have informed me that this is standard procedure for even much less serious head trauma. There is also the risk of stroke, especially in someone of Mr. Bell’s age. Mr. Bell has not seen an ophthalmologist to evaluate his eyes. These failures when considered individually or collectively, constitute deliberate indifference to a serious medical need in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1977).

As you know, Mr. Bell is just shy of 70 years old. He has not had a disciplinary infraction in over 20 years. The day following the beating, Mr. Bell had been scheduled to commence a family reunion visit, his first in 2 ½ years. Moreover, witnesses confirm that CO Saunders led Mr. Bell alone into an area where he was under the view of staff and not inmates. C.O. Saunders maintains in the disciplinary ticket that Mr. Bell refused to end the telephone call with his wife. Yet the tape of that call, obtained by the IG’s office, shows that Mr. Bell terminated it immediately.

At the same time, it appears that guards at Great Meadow targeted Mr. Bell. Visitors to Mr. Bell – including myself – have heard staff processing visitors and in the visiting room refer to Mr. Bell as a “cop killer” or “terrorist”. This unprofessional – and juvenile – behavior by your employees has no place in the prison system. Great Meadow itself is notorious for beatings by guards, many racially motivated. In the two weeks prior to the beating, Mr. Bell’s cell was searched. No contraband was found, but personal property was damaged and trashed.

The instant incident was not only a racist attack. It was elder abuse. Moreover, there is certainly probable cause to believe these guards committed assault in the first degree, P.L. § 120.04 and/or gang assault in the first degree, P.L. § 120.07. The law applies to everyone. When prison guards commit violent crimes, they should be prosecuted like anyone else.

I am aware that those who have contacted DOCCS have been told that the “investigation” must run its course. That may be true. However, while that “investigation” runs its course, it is Mr. Bell who is in the SHU, suffering from headaches and other pain and denied adequate medical treatment.

Consistent with your legal obligation to insure the safety and well-being of inmates within the Department, the following should take place:

1. Mr. Bell should immediately be removed to an outside hospital and seen by a neurologist and ophthalmologist;
2. The disciplinary infraction should be quashed and, upon Mr. Bell’s release from a hospital, he should be placed in general population not at Great Meadow Correctional Facility;
3. C.O. Saunders and the guards responsible for this attack should be immediately suspended from duty, without pay;
4. This matter should be referred to the appropriate agency for criminal prosecution of the guards involved.

I am available to discuss this matter at your earliest convenience.

Very truly yours,


September 4, 2017

Robert Seth Hayes informs us that he has still not received the monitor for the insulin pump. Apparently, NYS DOCCS never ordered it. So now there is yet another delay in necessary medical treatment for Seth.

Write to Seth:

Robert Seth Hayes #74A2280
Sullivan C.F.
P.O. Box 116
Fallsburg, NY 12733-0116

Send him a card or write him a letter. Seth loves corresponding with people, and it also shows the prison that people are paying attention.

Anne Lamb
NYC Jericho Movement

To contribute to ongoing efforts supporting Robert Seth Hayes, please donate online at:

NYC Jericho received word on May 9, 2017 from Seth's lawyer, Eve Rosahn, that his Article 78 appeal of his parole denial was also denied. You can read the decision here.

TAKE ACTION for Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner
Jaan Laaman, Locked in Solitary Confinement and
Facing Repression for Speaking Out for Human Rights

July 6, 2017 Letter from Jaan Laaman

Dear Anne,

Hi, how are you? I received your cool card, like back in May, and your good words and message that Ralph had words on my situation on the air.

So yes, I am still here in seg. The prison here has signed off on the move to CMU. Now the West BOP Regional Office and a transfer center have to approve, then BOP DC headquarters.

I have been receiving a good bit of support—lots of postcards and etc. My understanding is that a lot of people are contacting the Regional Office and DC as well. This is good and necessary, but I do realize that most of the time these prison bureaucrats get away with what they want. And for a CMU transfer, this is even more true.

You know it is pretty crazy—my obituary for Lynne and a greeting to a Women’s March are the two message they found me “guilty” of sending. I mean, I’ve been observing and analyzing world and national events for decades. I do think this is part of a new wave of state repression, and particularly in the prison industrial complex. For the past year they have been trying to silence me. Now they want to “disappear” me into a CMU cage.

And beside all that, I’m alright. Yeah, I’m used to doing a lot of yoga in a very small, hard surfaced space. Ha!

Hope you are doing and feeling well. Do give my warm revolutionary regards to folks—certainly Ralph and family.

Mail here is very slow—and worse—so I am numbering all my letters.

For Freedom,

August 20, 2017 Letter from Jaan Laaman

Dear Anne,

Hi. Hope these words are catching you doing positively. I received your letter (of 7/21) a couple of weeks ago.

So yeah, my situation remains the same—“pending designation to CMU”. My case is still in the Western BOP Regional Office. I think reaching out to them with concern and more is what needs to be done. I mean most of the time these prison bureaucrats get away with doing what they want—but resisting their moves is necessary.

I am supposed to be getting a legal phone call with my local Guild attorney this week sometime. I think the issues you raised about legal action are something we will be discussing.

Yes, Anne, my situation—I mean getting thrown into seg and trying to send me to a control unit for sending a eulogy for Lynne, is just a blatant example of run-away abuse of government power. But of course the BOP, and prison system(s) overall, are the most, for real, “police state” institutions in the U.S.—well I’d probably thow ICE into that camp, too.

Hey, speaking of prisons, I’m looking forward to hearing news on the D.C. prison rally that happened yesterday. I do have my little radio here in the cell, but did not hear anything on NPR—maybe something on Democracy Now tomorrow. And speaking more on prison matters, I very much support Jalil’s idea about international efforts.

And of course, always warm salutes and regards to Ralph and everyone. …

Yeah, I heard about Rashid’s move too—and all while ISIS terrorizes Catalonia and Nazis in Virginia!

La Lucha Continua—for real!

How you can support Jaan:

Write/call/email the Bureau of Prisons and ask them to end the repression against Jaan!

Please write and call the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials below and ask that Jaan:

1. Be released from segregation & placed back into general population immediately.
2. That he not be moved to a Communication Management Unit or punished further for exercising free speech.
3. Have his phone and email privileges be restored immediately.

Please remind them that Jaan is an elder prisoner, and you are concerned about his health in segregation and you would be concerned about his safety if he is moved to a Communication Management Unit.

Mary M. Mitchell, Regional Director
BOP Regional Office
7338 Shoreline Dr
Stockton, CA 95219
Regional email: wxro/
Phone: 209-956-9700
Fax: 209-956-9793

Thomas R. Kane, Director
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Central Office HQ
320 First Street, NW
Washington, DC 20534
Phone: 202-307-3198

Send a message through the Bureau of Prison (BOP) website here:

– Select ‘USP Tucson’
– Send a message that includes his name and number: Jaan Laaman #10372-016

Please be polite but firm in your letters and send the responses you get to

Write to Jaan and let him know he’s in our hearts and on our minds.

Jaan has no access to news or phone calls. It’s important we send him some letters right now. Send him articles, so that he gets some world news and messages of solidarity and support. Let the jailers see that Jaan has support from the community and cannot just be left in segregation or silenced.

Jaan Karl Laaman #10372-016
USP Tucson
P.O. Box 24550
Tucson, AZ 85734

Background Information

Jaan is imprisoned at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson in Arizona, and is one of the last two remaining Ohio-7 political prisoners still locked up. The Ohio-7 were convicted in 1986 of direct actions to protest U.S. support for the white-supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa, illegal U.S. attacks on Nicaragua and El Salvador, and repression against advocates for Puerto Rican self-determination.

Jaan was placed into solitary confinement because of two short messages: one in support of the “Day Without a Woman Strike” (International Women’s Day, March 8, 2017) which was printed in the NYC Anarchist Black Cross (ABC) update, and his “Farewell Thoughts to My Friend, Lynne Stewart” which was broadcast on Prison Radio. Lynne Stewart, revolutionary peoples’ lawyer passed away on March 8, 2017. When the NYC ABC magazine arrived by mail to the prison, Jaan was promptly placed in solitary confinement. Prison officials charged Jaan with “threatening the security of the prison” because of these First Amendment protected statements.

No one should be punished for exercising their First Amendment Rights. The United States District Court in Pennsylvania recently ruled in a case involving efforts to censure Mumia Abu-Jamal: “A past criminal offense does not extinguish a person’s constitutional right to free expression. The First Amendment does not disappear at the prison gate.”

Pattern of Increasing Repression

Being placed in solitary confinement is the latest act of repression by the prison administration, following increasing actions against Jaan. Over a year ago, the prison shut down Jaan’s access to email, and they have been censoring him in various ways since then, including withholding his mail and limiting access to his lawyer.

Jaan was placed in solitary confinement on his birthday and has been there ever since. There is a growing consensus as to the psychological harm caused by solitary confinement. In 2011 the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture concluded that solitary confinement for ore than 15 days constitutes torture and can cause irreversible harmful psychological effects.

Jaan previously wrote about the increasing censorship he has been facing, here. Jaan has been writing reflections about global events since he was first captured in 1984, so this level of censorship is certainly something new and different.

This update was written by friends of Jaan Laaman.
Facebook: Free Jaan Laaman
Twitter: @4StruggleMag.



Readers are urged to share this story widely and write to Rashid right away; mail equals support, and the more he gets, the safer he’ll be: Kevin Johnson, 158039, FSP, P.O. Box 800, Raiford FL 32083.

Additional Resources

Rashid's Website
Facebook Event to Call for Rashid

Rashid is Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party (Prison Chapter); he is a Virginia prisoner organizer and revolutionary communist. As a result of his organizing he has been repeatedly transferred out of state, under a setup called the “Interstate Compact” which is used to remove rebellious prisoners and exile them to locations where they have no friends, support, etc. For the past four years Rashid has been held in Texas, where he has been beaten, threatened, had his property confiscated, been set up on bogus infractions, and more — nonetheless, he used his time there to forge connections with other prisoners and to write a series of powerful exposés about violence, medical neglect, abuse, and murder in the Texas prison system.

He has also been targeted because of analysis and belief organizing across boundaries of race and class. Look carefully at his latest artwork, this is what the state finds dangerous.

Jericho is a movement with the defined goal of gaining recognition of the fact that political prisoners and prisoners of war exist inside of the United States, despite the United States’ government’s continued denial ... and winning amnesty and freedom for these political prisoners.


The Jericho Movement grew out of a call for a national march on the White House during Spring Break of 1998 by political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim. The call was made in October of 1996 through the Provisional Government–RepubIic of New Afrika and the New Afrikan Liberation Front, but the organizers decided to use this opportunity to jumpstart a much needed movement to build a national support organization for political prisoners in general.

The Jericho March

Jericho98 was the collective work of over 50 organizations, defense committees and groups, 64 Jericho Organizing Committees and Students for Jericho, making the issue of Recognition and Amnesty for U.S.-held political prisoners and prisoners of war a national one with its successful demonstration and rally at the White House.

The organizers who made up the Jericho Organizing Committees were/are just as diverse as the demonstrators who came from all across the United States, crossing the spectrum. The Jericho Movement was clear that we had to build a movement that left no political prisoner out there on his or her own again if we were to succeed in winning this struggle against racism, classism, and all forms of oppression.

The Beginning of a New Commitment

The March 27, 1998 demonstration was just the beginning of a whole new commitment to support these political prisoners and demand recognition and amnesty for them. There are hundreds of people who went to prison as a result of their work on the streets against oppressive conditions like indecent housing and inadequate or complete lack of medical care, lack of quality education, police brutality and the murder of people organizing for independence and liberation. These people belonged to organizations like the Black Panther Party, La Raza Unida, FALN, Los Macheteros, North American Anti-Imperialist Movement, May 19th, AIM, the Black Liberation Army, etc., and were incarcerated because of their political beliefs and acts in support of and/or in defense of freedom.

There is Work to be Done

Once the demonstration was over, the real work began. The Jericho Organizing Committees that came into being around this work continue educating people about the existence of these political prisoners. The original structure designed to mobilize people to go to the White House and serve notice that we will no longer allow our political prisoners to be behind prison walls with no support, and that work is being done to free them, has been transformed into a mass- based organizing tool.

At the present time there are Jericho Organizing Committees operating in Chicago, IL, Iowa City, IA, Oakland, CA, Maryland, New England, New York, NY, Portland, OR, Richmond VA, Washington DC and Italy, and regional committees functioning across the country. Then, too, Jericho is working with local defense committees to bring the cases of IndivIdual political prisoners to the public. Building a bond across organizational lines is what Jericho is about ... that’s where our strength lies.

To find out more about The Jericho Movement check out our website: •
or call us at: (718) 325-4407

The Jericho Movement addresses four principal issues:

1. Building the Amnesty Campaign
A big part of this work is locating political prisoners, compiling dossiers on them, and building the case for amnesty.

2. Continuing the Educational Campaign
About the Existence of Political Prisoners inside the U.S.

3. The Jericho Legal Defense Fund.
Providing supportive expenses for lawyers and law students etc. to provide legal defense for political prisoners.

4. The Jericho Medical Project
Fighting for adequate and quality medical care for political prisoners.

How Can You Help?

Organize speaking engagements about political prisoners in your church, school, community.

Volunteer to work on one of the projects of the Jericho Movement.

Organize a Jericho Committee in your area.

Make a financial contribution to Jericho.
Make all checks or money orders payable to: Jericho and mail them to:
The Jericho Movement, P.O. Box 2164, Chesterfield, VA 23832

If you want your contribution to be tax-deductible, please make checks payable to IFCO/Jericho.

NYC Jericho Movement, P.O. Box 670927, Bronx, NY 10467