During the riots, Bell was one of the residents who held a number of hostages in the District's Processing Center, and protected them from harm. During that time, Bell was able to gain access to the Interface, allowing hundreds of residents to transmit their stories to the outside world. Later, due to rumors that the hostages had been killed, a SWAT team raided the processing center, killing a number of the hostage-takers, including Bell. After it was discovered that the hostages had come to no harm, public opinion regarding the Sanctuary Districts began to change. Bell's sacrifice made the Bell Riots one of the watershed events of the 21st century and led to the closure of the Sanctuary Districts across the United States of America.
Alternate timelineIn the Deep Space Nine two-part episode "Past Tense", Starfleet officers Benjamin Sisko, Jadzia Dax, and Julian Bashir were transported back in time due to a transporter accident. After Sisko and Bashir were placed in District A, they came under attack by other residents. Coming along the incident, Bell attempted to help Sisko and Bashir, but was stabbed to death in the process. This change to history resulted in an alternate timeline which was observed by the crew of the USS Defiant in the future, which had been protected from the changes by a subspace bubble. In this new timeline, Starfleet apparently did not exist, and Romulan transmissions were detected in the vicinity of Alpha Centauri.
Later, after realizing the implications that Bell's death would have on the timeline, Sisko took it upon himself to take his place, introducing himself to the other hostage-takers as Gabriel Bell. In that capacity, he ensured that none of the hostages were harmed, and managed to gain access to the Interface so the residents could tell their story. When the SWAT team raided the processing center, Sisko was shot while protecting a guard. After the riots were over, the sympathetic guard agreed to let Sisko go and inform the authorities that Bell had died in the raid. The Starfleet officers were later able to return to their own time period.
Upon returning to their own time, Sisko and Bashir found that historical records regarding Gabriel Bell depicted Sisko's image.
The real Gabriel Bell was portrayed by John Lendale Bennett and his replacement (Benjamin Sisko) was portrayed by Avery Brooks.