Saturday, June 04, 2011

Geronimo Pratt, 1947-2011

Black Panther leader Geronimo Pratt, a symbol of the desperate and illegal measures utilized by the U.S. government and the FBI to destroy the Black liberation movement, died on June 2 in a Tanzanian village. He was 63. The top leaders of the movement - Malcolm X, Martin Luther King & Fred Hampton - were assassinated; the activists just below that level were falsely imprisoned. After spending 27 years in prison for a Santa Monica, Calif murder in he did not commit, in 1997 Pratt's conviction was overturned on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. In 2000 he received $4.5 million from the federal and local governments for wrongful imprisonment. Although there were a number of reasons that California Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey vacated the conviction, the main one was that the LAPD, the FBI and the prosecutors failed to inform the defense that their star witness was a government informant. A juror told the NYT:
If we had known about Butler's [the government's eye-witness] background, there's no way Pratt would have been convicted.
Geronimo Pratt spent most of his post-prison life in Imbaseni, a Tanzanian village, following the same ideals that had drawn him to the Panthers in the first place. Among other things he helped install an irrigation system .


No comments: