After 44 years in prison, former Black Panther Herman Bell has won parole and is slated to be released in mid-April. Bell, 70, along with Albert Washington and Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom) were convicted in the 1971 killing of two New York City cops. Each was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Muntaqim’s parole hearing is scheduled for June. Washington died in prison in 2000. Over the last 14 years, the board denied Bell parole seven times.
Among those calling for Bell’s release was Waverly Jones Jr., the son of one of the officers killed. “The simple answer is it would bring joy and peace as we have already forgiven Herman Bell publicly,” he wrote, speaking for his family, in a letter to the parole board.
The New York cops, and their backers in the editorial offices of the New York Daily News and New York Post blasted the decision to free Bell, as did liberal New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. The mayor said he was willing to call the board members in an effort to reverse Bell’s release, The Associated Press reported, but “reversing a parole board decision is highly unlikely.”
Bell’s freedom would represent a victory for him, for prisoners’ rights and for all supporters of political rights.