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RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors
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RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors

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RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors

RBG Tribute: Geronimo Ji Jaga (Pratt) Joins the Ancestors

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  • 1. Geronimo Ji Jaga on 60 Geronimo Ji Jaga in the Geronimo Pratt is Free GERONIMO (JI-JAGA) PRATT Minutes Living Luminaries movie & FARRAKHAN SPEAK ! 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 1
  • 2. Geronimo ji-Jaga (September 13, 1947 – June 2, 2011), formerly known as Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, was a high rankingmember of the Black Panther Party. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted him in a COINTELPRO operation, whichaimed to "neutralize Geronimo as an effective BPP functionary." Geronimo was tried and convicted of the kidnap andmurder of Caroline Olsen in 1972, and spent 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. Pratt wasfreed in 1997 when his conviction was vacated. He was working as a human rights activist up until the time of his death.Geronimo ji-Jaga was also the godfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur. He died of a heart attack in his adopted country,Tanzania, on June 2, 2011.Early yearsPratt was raised in Morgan City, Louisiana. He served two combat tours in the Vietnam War and came to Los Angeles,After he served his two tours, Pratt used the GI Bill to go to UCLA. When Geronimo joined the Black Panthers, his years inthe army proved useful. He rose to be Minister of Defense of the local organization, after two of its officers were killed.Pratts wife Saundra was killed in 1971 while 8 months pregnant and left in a ditch. The murder was blamed on a Partyschism between supporters of Huey Newton and supporters of Eldridge Cleaver with Pratt and his wife belonging to theCleaver faction.By January 1970, the Los Angeles FBI office had sought permission from headquarters for a counterintelligence effort"designed to challenge the legitimacy of the authority exercised" by Pratt in the local Panthers. Another FBI memo datedfive months later noted that the Bureau was constantly considering counterintelligence measures designed to neutralizeGeronimo "as an effective (Panther) functionary."Murder chargesIn 1968, Caroline Olsen, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher, was murdered by gunshot during a robbery on a SantaMonica tennis court. Olsens husband, Kenneth, who was also shot but survived, initially identified another man as thekiller. Julius Butler, a Black Panther and police informant, fingered Geronimo Pratt as the killer. In 1970 Pratt was arrestedand charged with murder and kidnapping…More below 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 2
  • 3. 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga: Former Black Panther released after 27 years By Allen Hougland http://www.fantompowa.net/Flame/hougland_geronimo.htm Introduction by Seán Mac Mathúna One event that received little coverage in 1997 Picture by Allen Hougland was the release of the former GI, Vietnam veteran and Black Panther, Geronimo ji Jaga(who changed his name from Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt in jail) after 25 years - the first eight years insolitary confinement - as a political prisoner in the USA. It was Geronimo who named the famous Rapsinger Tupac Shakur in 1971. His mother Afeni Shakur, who was also a member of the Black Panthers,was sent to prison despite being pregnant, after being wrongfully accused in a robbery. When the babywas born three months after her release, it was Geronimo ji Jaga, who suggested the name "Tupac" toAfeni . Like so many of the Black Panther leadership, Tupac would be shot dead in disputedcircumstances. 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 3
  • 4. RBG Street Scholar /Editor Insert Outlawz - Geronimo Ji Jaga Track 15 From Outlawz AlbumTupac Shakur: Geronimo ji Jaga gave him his name "Ride Wit Us Or Collide Wit Us".Geronimo is lucky to be alive today, as he was also targeted for assassination by the FBI as part of theirsecret COINTELPRO operations against political dissent in the USA. On December 4th 1969, at 4 am inthe morning, a 14-strong police team slammed into the home of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton andshot him three times - twice in the head and once in the chest. Also murdered was Mark Clark, anotherBlack Panther activist. Another three were wounded in the attack. An FBI informer had supplied a mapof the house to the police before the attack, showing where Hampton was sleeping. Four days after theassassination of Hampton and Clark, forty men from a LAPD SWAT squad, and more than a hundredpolice raided the house where Black Panther leader "Geronimo" Pratt was staying. Like with theHampton/Clark murders, the FBI used an informer who supplied the FBI with a detailed floor plan ofthe house where Pratt (who later changed his surname to ji Jaga) was staying. However, unknown to theFBI, Geronimo had decided to sleep on the floor that night, consequently the open burst of gunfirewhich was supposed to kill him, missed entirely. And thanks to the alertness of other Black Pantheractivists staying in the house that night, a sufficient number of them were awake when the shootingstarted to mount an effective resistance. His struggle for justice and equality in the USA would cost him25 years in jail.ji Jaga wins $4.5m (£2.8m) for wrongful convictionIn April 2000, ji Jaga, won an estimated $4.5m (£2.8m) in an out-of-court settlement from the FBI andthe Los Angeles authorities for "prosecutorial misconduct" in a murder trial which sent him to jail for 25years. ji Jaga had always maintained that he had been framed for the shooting of a schoolteacher,Caroline Olsen, on a tennis court in Santa Monica, California, in 1968. He was sentenced in 1972,mainly because of the testimony of a police informant, Julius Butler. As is common the USA in suchcases, the jury was never told of Butlers criminal record and his links with the police, but aninvestigator later found his name on an index of secret informants kept by the same district attorneysoffice which prosecuted ji Jaga. He finally won a retrial in 1997 when a superior court judge ruled that ifjurors had known the witnesss background they would not have found ji Jaga guilty. 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 4
  • 5. ji Jaga always maintained that on the day of the murder, he had been in Oakland attending a BlackPanther meeting. He also claimed that the FBI and police had wiretap recordings proving he was there,but had destroyed the evidence. The FBI has denied the allegations. On April 26th 2000, ji Jaga wasreported as saying in the Los Angeles Times that his false imprisonment was part of a FBI scheme toundermine the Black Panthers in the 1960s and 1970s.Here we present Alan Houglands account of the release of Geronimo ji Jaga release in1997.The cries of "Free at last!" rang out from the jubilant crowd outside the jail. On June 10th 1997, afterover 27 years in California prisons, Geronimo ji Jaga (born Elmer Pratt) was released twelve days after ajudge ruled that the main testimony against him had been supplied by an informant for J. Edgar HooversFBI - a fact not revealed to the defense at the time of the original trial. "Its a great day for justice inAmerica," said Johnnie Cochran, lead attorney in the successful murder defense of O.J. Simpson in1995, who has represented ji Jaga for over two decades - a job he has called his "lifes work" and his"Waterloo." Cochran has said he would feel ready to retire if ji Jaga were freed.ji Jaga, 49, was a highly decorated Vietnam soldier and head of the Los Angeles branch of the BlackPanther Party in the late 1960s. In 1972, he was convicted of the so-called Tennis Court Murder ofschool teacher Caroline Olsen in Santa Monica, California on the evening of December 18, 1968.Olsens husband was critically wounded but survived."Everyone knew I didnt do the murder that I wasgiven all this time on," said ji Jaga, who was in Philadelphia July 11 for a street rally in his honor and insupport of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a journalist and also ex-Panther, now on death row in Pennsylvania."Johnnie Cochran went to the community, and people whispered in his ear. Johnnie came back and said,But you didnt do that murder. I said, Thats right. You should have believed me.""It is reasonably probable that ji Jaga could have obtained a different result in the entire absence of theinformants testimony," wrote Orange County Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey in his May 29ruling. The judge added that the prosecution had wrongly suppressed information about the informantthat could have "put the whole case in a different light," and that its suppression "underminesconfidence in the verdict."Until prosecutors appeal Dickeys ruling, ji Jaga will remain free on $25,000 bail. If their appeal isdenied, they will then have the option of retrying ji Jaga for the murder - but say they have not yetdecided whether they would.The main testimony against ji Jaga at his trial was provided by Julius "Julio" Butler, now 64, a formerL.A. Deputy Sheriff who infiltrated the Black Panthers. Butler stated that ji Jaga had confessed to him ofthe killing. Butler also testified that he had seen ji Jaga replace the barrel of a gun - thus overcomingdefense evidence that the bullets from the murder scene could not be matched to the gun police said wasused in the crime.Butler denied on the stand ever having been a paid informant for law enforcement. But FBI recordsmade public in 1979 indicated the Bureau - as well as the Los Angeles Police Department and DistrictAttorneys Office - had been paying Butler for information on the Panthers for over two years before ji 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 5
  • 6. Jagas trial. Johnnie Cochran called Butler a "conniving snake" and a "pathological liar."While serving his seven-year-to-life sentence, ji Jaga spent more time in solitary confinement - overeight years - than any other U.S. prisoner. "They even put me on death row in 1974," said ji Jaga, "whenthey said that I was involved in the kidnapping of Patricia Hearst and with the SLA. Now, back then wedidnt have radios or TVs in prison, and you sure didnt get any news in the hole - so I didnt even knowwho Patricia Hearst was. I stayed on death row for 18 months - and death row aint no joke." His parolewas denied 16 times over the years, with an L.A. District Attorney stating in 1987 that ji Jaga should notbe released because he is "still a revolutionary man." "They offered me a million dollars and freepassage to Algiers if I would give them Tom Haden," said ji Jaga, noting he turned down this and otheroffers made with promises of early parole:"You know, someone told them that I was up on Tom Haden and his wife, Jane Fonda."ji Jaga has always maintained his innocence, claiming that on the night of the murder he was some 400miles away, attending a Black Panther Party national leadership meeting in Oakland. At ji Jagas trial,FBI agents testified that the meeting had not been monitored. But later, when confronted by proofuncovered by ji Jagas defense team, the Bureau admitted to the electronic surveillance - yet claimed tohave lost the logs, which could establish definitively whether ji Jaga was present or not.In the 1990s, two private investigators have stated that they saw the "missing" logs while working onanother case and that the documents clearly showed that ji Jaga was at the Oakland meeting at the timeof the murder. At the time of his arrest, ji Jaga was listed in the FBIs National Security Index and hispicture was displayed in their Black Nationalist Photo Album, featuring persons the Bureau consideredprime targets for what they termed "neutralisation." ji Jagas defense team have obtained his FBI files,numbering over 100,000 pages and showing he was a principal target of Cointelpro, the FBIs CounterIntelligence Programme (CONITELPRO), which aimed to undermine the Black Panthers during the late1960s and early 1970s.Appearing robust and healthy, ji Jaga said he was able to hold up under harsh prison conditions for 27years because of his commitment to black nationalist struggle, and the embrace he says he always feltfrom people all over the world. And he said he was never disrespected by gang members he encounteredbehind bars, which gave him encouragement. "And the knowledge that someday we will be free if wecontinue to struggle," he said:"Our lives are not important - the liberation of our people is. Its not the personality, its the principle.So whatever might happen to us individually as soldiers, it was understood. Because we were fightingthe kind of enemy who would kill us, put us in prison, cause us to go underground and into exile. Wewere pretty much prepared for that."ji Jaga said it is still too early for him to judge how the outside world has changed in 27 years. "I need tolisten to my elders. I need to listen to all the brothers and sisters I see, and get advice, so they can helpde-alienate me from these 27 years of alienation. Im a student right now. Im very ignorant about a lot ofthings. My mind after 27 years is still pretty much hung up in a lot of bullshit behind those walls. Im notready, I think." 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 6
  • 7. The agenda of African America is one topic about which ji Jaga is ready to offer concrete proposals:"The brothers in prison want me to get the Congress of the United States to hold hearings into the FBIspsychological war program known as Cointelpro, as it relates to our comrades who are still in prison. Ifit could have been done while I was in there - we would have been out of prison years ago. Because thegovernment cannot stand that test of what Cointelpro did. They played dirty. We didnt cry, but welearned from our mistakes. And we know they cannot stand that test. A Congressional hearing would bevery similar to what they did for Ruby Ridge, for Waco. Thats all we are asking."ji Jaga believes some things have not changed during his incarceration: "A lot of brothers and sisters outhere have not taken the time that they know there supposed to, to get with these youngsters," he said."These youngsters are being sunk by some of the forces that we were faced with back in the sixties, andwe have to share that knowledge with those youngsters. They want to hear it. We have to be patient withthem and take time. And I want to ask these youngsters to respect our African queens, to respect allwomen. I would add on to that to respect the elders."ji Jaga called for a plebiscite supervised by the United Nations, in which the United States would onlyparticipate as observers, to decide whether African America should have independent nationhood. "Weare the second largest group of Africans in the world," he said. "Nigeria is number one. We are thesecond largest African nation in this world. Yet we do not govern ourselves. And we have the largesteconomy of any African nation. We have the wherewithal, we have the doctors, we have the scientists,we have the engineers - we have everything that a nation requires, yet we still call Clinton our leader. Idont understand that."According to ji Jaga, the treasury of the new nation would have the machinery necessary to collect themoney he feels is owed to African Americans by the United States in reparation for slavery:"If they somehow dont come forward with the reparations, then we would initiate another phase ofarmed struggle - which is legitimate and is our duty. All these 400 years of slave labour is what madethis country the richest country in the world. With the reparations owed to us, our ancestors - who died,and toiled, and bled and were raped - would directly be supporting the foundation of our new nation."ji Jaga said he came to Philadelphia especially to show his support for the release of Mumia Abu -Jamalfrom death row."Of course Mumia is the first on my list, because he is not just a name to me - I always called him mylittle brother. I remember when we brought him out to the Panthers national headquarters in Oaklandback in the sixties. Mumia stood out so much that he was like a prodigy. We were all so proud of him. Iremember the Panthers Minister of Culture, Henry Douglas, just loved to work with him on thenewspaper, which Mumia always excelled in, as a young revolutionary fighting for his people. "Yearslater, when I heard that Mumia was arrested, I couldnt believe it - because I know Mumia, I saw hes abeautiful brother, comes from a very strong family, hes a soldier. And we did a full investigation, andwe found out (just as I already suspected) that Mumia did not do that murder. "The truth came out aboutthe frame-up of me, and the truth will come out about the frame-up of our beautifully great brotherMumia Abu-Jamal." 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 7
  • 8. Born Elmer Pratt, ji Jaga changed his name at age 20. "My name Pratt was never my name," he said, "itwas the name of a slavemaster in Louisiana. And I did a check, and he was a dirty dog. So in 1968 Ichanged my name to Geronimo ji Jaga. Ive declared my own reality, and I encourage everyone to do so."We have to get back in touch with our true historical selves. Were still walking around with the namesof slave masters. Were giving our children the name of a slave master who possibly raped their great -great-great grandmother. By taking back our African names, we can reconnect with our historicalpersonality. We have to deal with everything from an Afro-centric standpoint."ji Jaga said he urges all black Americans to struggle to maintain their national dignity. "We have toconquer that fear of freedom that has troubled our people since the so-called EmancipationProclamation, when newly freed slaves went and said, Damn, Master, you done freed me - now whatam I gonna do? People still have the fear that they cant function without the United States. "We dontwant to enter the next millennium as second-hand, Chicken-George-type mealy welfare recipients. Its ashame: Weve got all this beauty, all this royalty and talent, and its being usurped and exploited by ourown former slave masters and their descendants." As for the immediate future, ji Jaga to continuemaking appearances across the country in support of causes he considers vital to the survival andprosperity of the African-American community.Allen Hougland, 1997 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga, Allen Hougland Page 8

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