Monday, June 06, 2011

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

Written by RBGStreetScholar on Jun-3-11 7:16pm

Geronimo ji-Jaga (September 13, 1947 – June 2, 2011), formerly known as Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt, was a high ranking member of the Black Panther Party. The Federal Bureau of Investigation targeted him in a COINTELPRO operation, which aimed to "neutralize Geronimo as an effective BPP functionary." Geronimo was tried and convicted of the kidnap and murder of Caroline Olsen in 1972, and spent 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. Pratt was freed 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 years

Pratt 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 in the army proved useful. He rose to be Minister of Defense of the local organization, after two of its officers were killed. Pratt's wife Saundra was killed in 1971 while 8 months pregnant and left in a ditch. The murder was blamed on a Party schism between supporters of Huey Newton and supporters of Eldridge Cleaver with Pratt and his wife belonging to the Cleaver 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 dated five months later noted that the Bureau was constantly considering counterintelligence measures designed to neutralize Geronimo "as an effective (Panther) functionary."
Murder charges

In 1968, Caroline Olsen, a 27-year-old elementary school teacher, was murdered by gunshot during a robbery on a Santa Monica tennis court. Olsen's husband, Kenneth, who was also shot but survived, initially identified another man as the killer. Julius Butler, a Black Panther and police informant, fingered Geronimo Pratt as the killer. In 1970 Pratt was arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping…

More in the download 1997: Free at Last - Geronimo ji Jaga: Former Black Panther released after 27 years

By Allen Hougland

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