The Political Prisoners who work on Certain Days
Robert Seth Hayes was arrested in 1973, after police opened fire on his apartment while he was home with his wife and children. This occurred as a result of the U.S. government’s illegal Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), in a climate dominated by portrayals of black militants as murderers and cop-killers. Seth, a former member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted for the death of a NYC transit cop and for the attempted murder of the cops who stormed his apartment. He received a sentence of 25 years to life, and is being held at the Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, NY.
In 1998, Seth was diagnosed with diabetes, and has been struggling with prison administrators to get decent healthcare for his disease. Seth became eligible for parole in 1998, but despite an excellent prison record, Seth’s sixth bid for parole was denied in 2008. You can find out more about Seth and listen to his solidarity statement with Six Nations on his website: www.sethhayes.org
David Gilbert is a longtime anti-imperialist. He became active around the civil rights movement in 1960, and later organized against the Vietnam War. He spent 10 years as part of an underground resistance to imperialism. Working as an anti-racist ally of the Black Liberation Army in 1981, David and others were captured in connection with an attempted expropriation (theft for political reasons) of a Brink’s truck in Nyack, NY. David was sentenced to 75 years to life and is currently being held at Clinton, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.
In 1986, David became active as an advocate and educator around AIDS in prison after his codefendant Kuwasi Balagoon died suddenly of AIDS while still in custody. He is the author of No Surrender: Writings from an Anti-Imperialist Political Prisoner. It can be ordered from AK Press, www.akpress.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, AK Press, 674-A 23rd Street, Oakland, CA 94612 USA. He is also the subject of a mini-documentary, “Lifetime of Struggle” (available from AK Press or the Freedom Archives).
Herman Bell has been a U.S. political prisoner for over 36 years. A former Black Panther, he was involved with political community work and subsequently went underground because of relentless FBI and police attacks on the Party. Herman was captured in New Orleans in 1973 and illegally extradited to New York to stand trial with Albert Nuh Washington, Jalil Muntaqim, Francisco Torres and Gabriel Torres on charges of killing two NYC police. Though the jury could not reach a verdict the first time, the NY District Attorney persisted and used many illegal tactics to obtain convictions for Herman, Jalil and Nuh.
Herman was also a founder, along with Carol Dove and Michael Vernon, and core member of the Victory Gardens Project, a collaboration between inner city and rural community groups in the northeastern U.S., in which food, as the organizing tool, was grown and distributed free of charge back into the communities.
In 2007, Herman was extradited to San Francisco for prosecution of a 38 year-old unsolved cop-killing case. He was charged along with Jalil Muntaqim and six other former Black Panthers, now known as the San Francisco 8. In July 2009, he pled to reduced charges and received 5 years probation. Herman maintains this was a strategic decision which would help the defense of the others and would allow him to return to New York and continue fighting for freedom. The plea in no way jeopardized the other defendants in the case. His decision paved the way for the dismissal of four of the SF8, once Jalil Muntaqim joined Herman in accepting a plea for probation.
Despite Herman's 37 years in prison, his impressive prison record, including his B.A. and M.A., his years of football and basket ball coaching (bringing prisoners together), his years of mentoring and tutoring, his paralegal and HIV-counseling certificates, his founding the Victory Gardens Project, his 3 job offers in San Francisco, his decades of marriage, his children and grandchildren and 9 siblings offering him a secure homecoming, he was denied parole for the fourth consecutive time in July 2010.