[News] Victim's Son Calls For Parole for Herman Bell

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Wed Feb 4 17:11:24 EST 2004

Note a good video clip link from the press conference: 

NY1 News

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Weather: Chilly Winds, High 42

News " 

Victim's Son Calls For Parole Of Convicted Cop Killer

A man convicted in the execution-style murders of two police officers in 
Harlem over three decades ago is up for parole this week, and the son of 
one of the victims called for his release Tuesday.

Herman Bell and two other former Black Panthers were convicted of shooting 
officers Joseph Piagentini and Waverly Jones in what prosecutors called a 
planned assassination at a housing project in 1971. Bell, who has served 29 
years in prison but maintains he was wrongly convicted, goes before a 
parole board in an upstate prison on Wednesday.

Tuesday in Brooklyn, Bells supporters including his son and Waverlys and 
City Councilman Charles Barron, himself a former Black Panther rallied to 
call for his parole. Waverly Jones Jr., who never knew his slain father, 
urged the police union, the Patrolmens Benevolent Association, to relax its 
opposition. Jones said he doesnt believe Bell killed his father.

I pray that the PBA will take that word benevolent and apply it to those 
who suffer unjustly,Jones said. I am very proud of Herman Bell and the 
accomplishments that he has made in spite of being held in prison for all 
these years, and the things that he has done are commendable."

The PBA, along with Piagentinis widow, says Bell should stay behind bars, 
and last month the union delivered a petition with thousands of signatures 
urging against parole.

On May 21, 1971, Bell, Anthony Bottom and Albert Washington, all members of 
the Black Liberation Army, ambushed the partners at the Colonial Park 
Houses on 159th Street after placing a phony domestic violence call, 
according to prosecutors. Bottom shot Jones, who was black, from behind. 
After Piagentini, who was white, pleaded for his life, Bell shot him over a 
dozen times, the PBA says.

Bell claims prosecutors and police used illegal tactics to convict him, and 
he and his supporters consider him a political prisoner. Bell, who is 
serving a sentence of 25 years to life, earned a graduate degree behind 
bars, and his supporters call him a model prisoner.

At Tuesdays news conference, Kamel Bell read a letter his father wrote from 
behind bars. Although I did not commit this offense,Bell wrote, my 
condolences have always been extended to the Piagentini and Jones families 
and to all of those who have suffered as a consequence of this tragedy. As 
a lover of humanity, I believe that an untimely loss of life in distressing 
circumstances is reprehensible.

In a statement released Tuesday, PBA President Pat Lynch said: "Herman Bell 
and his accomplices drove across country for the express purpose of killing 
New York City police officers. To suggest that he is a political prisoner 
is laughable. He is a cold blooded murderer, not a victim of his ideals."

After Wednesdays hearing, the parole board will issue a decision later this 
week or sometime next week.

Bottom is eligible for parole again in July. Washington died in prison.


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