Prisoners’ Rights

Working for huge improvements at Erie County  Holding Center, 40 Delaware Ave, is among the group’s activities. For more info,

CONTACT:
Chuck Culhane
Phone: (716) 348-4006
Email: culhane9@gmail.com

Black Panther Party political prisoner Herman Bell was viciously assaulted
by guards at Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Comstock) on September 5,
2017. A description of the incident follows, with suggested letter info immediately following.

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 a 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

We ask that people write to Anthony Annucci, Commissioner, requesting:

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