L.A. D.A.'s New Persecution of
Revolutionary Worker #988, December 27, 1998
On June 10, 1997 hundreds of people crowded around the door of a Santa Ana, California jail to witness an event many had waited for their whole lives. On that day, Geronimo ji Jaga walked free into the sunshine, released on bail after a Superior Court judge reversed the false murder conviction that had kept him unjustly locked up for 27 years.
Now the L.A. District Attorney is trying to put Geronimo back in prison!
On Tuesday, December 15, a California Appeals Court in Los Angeles heard oral arguments from the L.A. District Attorney's office and Geronimo's lawyers. The DA is asking the Appeals Court to put Geronimo ji Jaga back in prison by overturning the reversal of his conviction. Hundreds of supporters came to protest this outrageous move, including actors Marlon Brando and Sean Penn.
In 1969, Geronimo ji Jaga, known then as Geronimo Pratt, was a young revolutionary in the L.A. Chapter of the Black Panther Party when its leader, Bunchy Carter, was shot down on the UCLA campus with fellow Panther John Huggins. Geronimo became Bunchy Carter's successor--and a major target of the government COINTELPRO program, which sought to "neutralize" radical and revolutionary leaders. Government agents recruited an ex-cop named Julius Butler to infiltrate the Panthers and Butler informed for the FBI, LAPD and the L.A. District Attorney's office. In December 1970, false information supplied by Butler was used to indict Geronimo for the small-time robbery and killing of a school teacher that had happened two years before. Geronimo was arrested, railroaded and sentenced to life in prison.
When Julius Butler testified at Geronimo's trial in 1972, he repeatedly denied being an informant. The DA, knowing this was a lie, repeated the denial to the jury. The judge who dismissed Geronimo's case over 25 years later noted that the fact that Butler was a police agent would have put the entire case "in a different light." Now the DA is making the same arguments that were rejected in 1997--saying there was enough evidence to convict without the testimony of Julius Butler and insisting Butler wasn't an informer--even though their own files admit he was.
On the day he got out of jail, when Geronimo ji Jaga was asked why he had prevailed after long years of having appeals rejected, he said, "It was the power of the people." As a team of lawyers, including Stuart Hanlon and Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., worked for many years to expose the frame-up and railroad, an international movement grew to demand Geronimo be free. Hundreds demonstrated at every court hearing, including youth from the new generation who had not even been born when Geronimo was first imprisoned.
It is up to the people to defeat this outrageous effort by the system to put Geronimo ji Jaga back in prison. Geronimo must stay free!
This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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