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Former Black Panther Robert Seth Hayes Dies at 72

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Hayes served 45 years in prison, one of the longest-held political prisoners in the United States.

A founding member of the Black Liberation Army passed away at the age of 72 last weekend. Robert Seth Hayes, a New York native, was a former Black Panther and Vietnam War veteran.

After returning from Vietnam, commanding officers ordered Hayes' unit to pacify protestors after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. Subsequently, Hayes joined the Black Panther Party. "It was the saddest day of my life," he said of the orders, "and I could never identify again with the aims of the armed forces or the government."

READ: Five Things to Read or Watch to Learn More About Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party

As a member, Hayes assisted in the Party's medical clinics and free breakfast programs. As the Party's membership declined towards the 1970s, the Black Liberation Army arose in New York City. In 1973, Hayes was convicted of the murder of policeman Sidney Thompson and other weapons charges. Until his death, Hayes denied involvement in Thompson's death. He received a 25-year sentence, yet served 45 years in Sullivan Correctional Facility.

Despite a clean disciplinary record behind bars, the parole board denied Hayes ten times, before July 24, 2018. On August 9, 2018, Hayes stepped free for the first time in decades. New York City's Jericho Movement played a major role in his parole.

Memorial services will take place in Buffalo, New York Friday, December 27. More information about services is available on the San Francisco Bay View's website.

H/T: DemocracyNow