It’s a cold Friday night in November in Portland, Maine. Comrades from around the state have gathered at the Aphodian Theater to support our imprisoned friend, Herman Bell. The benefit features bands and speakers, including former political prisoner Ray Luc Lavasseur.
It is organized by our group of friends and family, Maine Anti-Racist Action, in order to raise funds to help pay for Herman’s family visits. We give out organic squash, anarchist papers including the Fifth Estate, and prisoner information.
Herman, a former Black Panther, a victim of the FBI’s COINTELPRO counter intelligence program was convicted in 1974 of killing two New York City policemen. Coerced witnesses, manufactured and circumstantial evidence, along with prosecutorial and judicial misconduct led to his being railroaded and sentenced to 25 years to life.
Herman has paid a heavy price for his resistance to racist authority, serving 44 years in prison and being denied parole seven times. On Sept. 5, the 70-year-old Bell was badly beaten by cowardly prison guards at New York’s Comstock prison and charged with assault.
He described the attack in a letter to supporters: “I sustained multiple kicks, punches to the face and eyes, repeated head slams into concrete, and two cracked ribs.” After a massive letter writing campaign, the charges were dropped. Solidarity works!
Herman goes before a parole board for the eighth time this February.
More information is at freehermanbell.org.
An anarchist comrade read a statement of solidarity with Herman from political prisoner, Eric King: “In the midst of all the Antifa and ]20 arrests, we need to always remember those who fell first. We need to remember the level of oppression the Panthers and the Black Liberation Army faced. Imagine if the FBI was kicking in the Antifa/ Anarchist doors and putting bullets into us, consistently, without recourse or consequences.
“We need to tangibly support these comrades. Food, clothing, letters, hobbies, crafts, anything rewarding or enjoyable costs money, prisons give no handouts. Let’s keep Herman’s life as comfortable as possible.”
At the same event, we distributed posters and information about Eric King, an anarchist charged in 2014 with the attempted firebombing of the empty office of Congressman Emanuel Cleaver’s Kansas City office committed in solidarity with the Ferguson rebellion.
In 2016, Eric accepted a federal non-cooperating plea agreement and was sentenced to 10 years confinement. At the Florence, Colorado SuperMax prison, he has been targeted by guards, and done stints in solitary confinement.
We have sponsored several art projects for Eric, creating posters and patches that his support team sells on their site supportericking.org. We hope to visit him next summer.
We also support Jennifer Gann, known as Baby Girl, an anarchist trans woman and insurrectionist held captive for over 25 years for armed robberies and a 1995 attack on a California district attorney and associate prison warden.
She took part in the 1991 Folsom, Calif. prison hunger strike after which she was beaten and tortured, convicted of armed resistance and sentenced to multiple 25-to-life sentences under the state’s draconian Three Strikes law.
Jennifer has spent over 10 years in solitary confinement at Folsom and Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit (SHU). In 2016, she was attacked by guards at Kern Valley state prison for coming to the aid of another trans woman prisoner.
For more information on Jennifer, go to babygirlgann.noblogs.org.
Jennifer has filed for a sentence reduction under California’s Proposition 36 and early release under the newly enacted Proposition 57. If she had a proper lawyer, the sentence from her third strike would be reduced 20 years or less, which would equal her release. We are planning posters, patches, and stickers to sell on her support site.
Our upcoming projects include making posters, patches, and stickers for Jennifer and Marius Mason SupportMariusMason.org.
Our next benefit will be for Jennifer, Eric and Marius. Prisons are the front lines and our comrades need our love and support.
Consider a fundraising event in your area.
Robcat homesteads and does prisoner support in Maine.