A Special Editorial by J. R. de Szigethy
The New York State Parole Board has insulted the entire American law enforcement community by their decision to grant Parole to convicted cop killer Herman Bell. Bell was a member of a radical Communist terrorist organization calling themselves the “Black Liberation Army” that began a series of public assassinations of Police Officers in 1971. This reign of terror began on the evening of May 19, 1971, when members of the BLA opened fire with a machine gun on two police officers guarding the home of Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan. Both officers, Thomas Curry and Nicholas Binetti, were wounded for the rest of their lives. On May 21, 1971, the gang assassinated Police Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini outside a public housing building in Harlem. The decision to murder Officer Jones, who was African-American, was because he was the Partner of a Caucasian Officer, Piagentini. This offended the racist views of this terrorist organization.
On June 29, 1971, Colombo Mafia Family Godfather Joe Colombo was shot in an assassination attempt at a Columbus Day rally in New York City’s Columbus Circle. Colombo’s assassin, Jerome Johnson, was quickly shot dead, but his African-American female accomplice escaped. The NYPD’s investigation of Johnson revealed he had connections to the BLA. On August 29, 1971, 3 members of the BLA burst into a police station in San Francisco and gunned down Sgt. John Victor Young as he sat at his desk. On November 3rd, 1971, 3 associates of the BLA executed Atlanta Police Officer James R. Greene as he serviced his patrol vehicle at a gas station. On December 20th of that year, the gang attempted to murder 2 NYPD cops by throwing a hand grenade under their patrol car. The car was demolished, but the cops survived. On January 27, 1972, the gang executed 2 NYPD cops, Rocco Laurie and Gregory Foster by shooting them in the back with a machine gun. The two cops were targeted because one was Black and the other White. Laurie and Foster had previously served together as soldiers in Vietnam, and the NYPD had intentionally paired them as partners to improve race relations within the Department.
A few weeks later, on February 16, 1972, some members of the BLA had relocated temporarily to St. Louis, Missouri, given that the authorities in New York were working overtime to find the killers of Officers Laurie and Foster. The gang got into a confrontation with the local police, and a shoot-out resulted, killing one BLA member, Ronald Carter, a suspect in the murders of Officers Laurie and Foster. BLA member Joanne Chesimard had rented one of the vehicles used by the BLA.
On April 14th, 1972, a New York City Police Officer, Philip Cardillo, was murdered in a Mosque in Harlem. Cardillo had responded to a phony 10-13 call, which means that a Police Officer needs assistance, at the Nation of Islam Mosque on 116th Street. It was a set-up to an execution. Once inside the Mosque, Cardillo was surrounded by a group of men. Cardillo was gunned down and another cop was severely beaten. In 2009, members of the NYPD called upon the FBI to release it’s files on the Mosque un-redacted, in the hopes that such intelligence could result in prosecutions for this murder. The files were the product of FBI Informants.
The murderer of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster has also escaped Justice. On May 2, 1973 Trooper James Harper pulled a car over for a traffic violation, and was joined by Trooper Foerster in another patrol car. A gunfight ensued and when it was over, Trooper Foerster and a BLA member were dead; Joanne Chesimard, aka Assata Shakur, and Trooper Harper were wounded. Shakur was eventually convicted for the murder of Trooper Foerster, but escaped from prison in 1979. In 2013 the FBI added Assata Shakur to the FBI’s Most Wanted list. She was last known to be residing in Cuba, being protected there because of her lifelong commitment to Communism.
Herman Bell, one of the murderers of Officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini has now been granted Parole by the Board dominated by those members appointed by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. History reveals that there will be repercussions among American voters against politicians of both major political parties whose policies and actions endanger the public safety.
In 1974, Massachusetts resident Willie Horton and 2 accomplices stabbed a teenager 19 times during their armed robbery of a gas station. Despite the fact that Horton was convicted of the teenager’s death and sentenced to Life Without Parole, Horton was released for a weekend furlough during the tenure of Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, a Democrat. Horton then kidnapped a young couple, twice raping the young woman. On the lam as a fugitive rapist and murderer, Horton was apprehended by Yusuf Muhammad of the Prince George’s County Police Department in Maryland. When, in 1988, Governor Dukakis ran for President of the United States, a key factor in his defeat was his support of the Furlough Program that released convicted murderer Willie Horton onto the streets of America.
Maurice Clemmons was a career criminal whose sentence of 108 years in prison was reduced in 2000 by Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a Republican. This allowed Clemmons’ release by the Arkansas State Parole Board. In November, 2009 Clemmons spotted a police car outside a coffee shop in Parkland, Washington. Clemmons then walked into the shop, pulled out a handgun, and ambushed Police Officers Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold, and Greg Richards. Clemmons was shot and killed by a Seattle Police Officer a few days later.
Governor Huckabee’s role in this police tragedy effectively ended his potential as a serious candidate for President of the United States. Although Governor Cuomo has criticized the ruling by his Parole Board who voted to free racist cop killer Herman Bell, recent similar history is not on his side. While considered by many as a potential future Presidential candidate, Cuomo should recognize that his national aspirations are now doomed. The Governor has the blood of two hero Police Officers on his hands, and that stain can never be washed away.
J. R. de Szigethy is a New York City-based crime reporter who can be reached at this address: