Black Men : Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt

Discussion in 'Black Men - Fathers - Brothers - Sons' started by Ankhur, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. Ankhur

    Ankhur Well-Known Member MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2009
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    Before we turn to our guests, I’d like to play part of a radio interview I did with Geronimo Pratt in 2000, three years after he was released from jail. We were also joined in WBAI’s studios in New York for this conversation by one of Geronimo ji-Jaga Pratt’s attorney’s, Johnnie Cochran, who died in 2005.
    GERONIMO JI-JAGA PRATT: Well, I grew up in segregation, and we had to deal with the terror from the Klan violence and, you know, other forms of ignorance from those peoples. But growing up in that kind of environment instilled in me a pride of—or a sense of nationalism, that we can govern ourselves, and we can protect ourselves, and we didn’t need to be with anyone who didn’t want to be with us. So, out of that, I was part of a group that was selected by the elders to get military training, to come back to the community, you know, and help protect it, relieve the old soldiers. It just so happened that when I was selected, Vietnam was happening, and I ended up in Vietnam and survived that, two tours, or two and a half. And when I came back, it was shortly after Martin Luther King was assassinated, so the black nation was more or less at one now with the—just being fed up. And everyone was saying, "Look, we have to do something." So us young militant types were employed quite extensively throughout the nation. And so, this is how I ended up in these cities contributing what little I could contribute.
    AMY GOODMAN: And you got involved then with the Black Panther Party?
    GERONIMO JI-JAGA PRATT: Well, with various organizations, including the Black Panther Party.
    AMY GOODMAN: So, how did you end up in a courtroom being tried for the murder of Caroline Olsen? She was killed playing on a Santa Monica tennis court with her husband in 1968. You were caught and charged when?
    GERONIMO JI-JAGA PRATT: Well, I was arrested two years after that, in 1970, in Dallas, Texas, where I was instrumental in helping to organize the first Black Panther chapter there in Dallas, Texas, and other parts of the South. I was charged because of a conspiracy by the government that was led by the Hoover—what we call the Hoover-Nixon regime, which was an illegal conspiracy directed against the entire left, entire movement.
    AMY GOODMAN: Johnnie Cochran, how did you get involved with Geronimo’s case?
    JOHNNIE COCHRAN, JR.: I was appointed by the court, by Judge Kathleen Parker, to represent Mr. Pratt in the murder case. I had met him and had sat alongside him in another case, the so-called Panther shootout case that took place in 1970, ’71, in L.A., was then the longest trial ever. And all the Panthers were pretty much acquitted of all the charges in that, and it was a bogus case. The court then appointed me to represent him in the tennis court murder case.
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