February 16, 2010 Leave a comment
Geronimo Pratt was a high ranking member of The Black Panther Party. Pratt like many of the members of the Black Panthers gained power within the black community. With that said of course the FBI wont be too far behind. The Feds started the “devils ears” aka COINTELPRO
“COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the United States. The FBI used covert operations from its inception, however formal COINTELPRO operations took place between 1956 and 1971. The FBI’s stated motivation at the time was “protectingnational security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”
According to FBI records, 85% of COINTELPRO resources were expended on infiltrating, disrupting, marginalizing, and/or subverting groups suspected of being subversive, such as communist and socialist organizations; the women’s rights movement; militant black nationalist groups, and the non-violent civil rights movement, including individuals such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and others associated with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Congress of Racial Equality, the American Indian Movement, and other civil rights groups; a broad range of organizations labeled “New Left”, including Students for a Democratic Society, the National Lawyers Guild, the Weathermen, almost all groups protesting the Vietnam War, and even individual student demonstrators with no group affiliation; and nationalist groups such as those “seeking independence for Puerto Rico.” The other 15% of COINTELPRO resources were expended to marginalize and subvert “white hate groups,” including the Ku Klux Klan and National States’ Rights Party
Cointlepro started to “neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary” aka send him to jail for a crime he didnt commit because he uplifted black people and made black communities better.
Pratt was arrested in 1970 and charged with the kidnapping and murder of Caroline Olsen, a Los Angeles teacher. Olsen and her husband Kenneth were attacked on a tennis court in Santa Monica in December 1968 by two black men. Three years later, Kenneth Olsen positively identified Geronimo Pratt as one of the assailants, from a photo given him by the LAPD. Pratt was the fourth black man whom Olsen identified under police pressure.
The frame-up was part of the war against the Black Panther Party conducted by the FBI and the LAPD. Julius Butler, the main “witness” against Pratt, had been an informer for both agencies within the Panthers, and he had been expelled from the organization by Pratt because of his advocacy of violence. At the direction of the FBI and LAPD, Butler testified that Pratt had confessed to killing Caroline Olsen.
The FBI closed its file on Butler during the trial so that he could deny that he was an informer when asked. Afterwards he resumed informing and his file was reopened. The LAPD apparently did not even bother to carry out such a cosmetic gesture, flatly denying Butler’s role as a police snitch.Even after the revelations about the FBI’s COINTELPRO program in the late 1970s confirmed that Butler had been a police spy, Los Angeles authorities continued to oppose any retrial or release of Geronimo Pratt, keeping the innocent man imprisoned for another 20 years.
The COINTELPRO operation was a systematic effort to destroy the Black Panther Party–as well as other left-wing organizations–through infiltration, frame-up and, on several occasions, outright murder. Pratt became head of the Los Angeles chapter of the Panthers after two predecessors, Alprentice Carter and John Huggins, were assassinated by George and Larry Stiner, FBI informers who worked inside the US (United Slaves) organization of Ron Karenga.
According to the memoirs of former FBI agent Wesley Swearingen, the FBI also had a wiretap of the Black Panther Party headquarters in Los Angeles during the period that Caroline Olsen was murdered. The wiretap logs, which showed that Geronimo Pratt was in the San Francisco Bay Area the day of the murder, not in Los Angeles, were destroyed.
Another FBI wiretap on the San Francisco office of the Panthers showed that Pratt was there on the day of the murder, but these records were also withheld from the defense.
After 27 years of being falsely imprisoned Pratt Pratt always maintained his innocence. During his incarceration he studied law and steadfastly built a defense. Pratt was represented by attorneys Stuart Hanlon and Johnnie Cochran in his original trial. Together with William Paparian, Hanlon contributed much to the appeals that later led to Pratt’s conviction being vacated. Pratt’s conviction was vacated on June 10, 1997, on the grounds that the prosecution had not disclosed that a key witness against Pratt, Julius Butler, was an informant for both the FBI and the LAPD, and that this fact was “favorable” to the defendant, “suppressed” by a law enforcement agency, and “material” to the jury’s decision to convict.
60 minutes investigates the unjust 27 year imprisonment of Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt -1984
Johnnie Cochran discusses the relentless struggle to free Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt.