I knew Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt through books and stories passed by old head revolutionaries in Los Angeles. He was part myth and part hero—a comrade and political prisoner in conscious circles, and a brother effed by the police in the larger black community.
I can recall going to Leimert Park in Los Angeles circa 1997-98, to celebrate and see Geronimo upon his release. He was like Mandela and Michael, and pre-Obama, much more grassroots, and more like a legendary dream.
Leimert Park, the black arts Mecca in Los Angeles was packed with everyone from thugs to business folk. On that day, we all one. Every person that was unjustly treated by the justice deparment, from all walks of life, and races, hugged and shook hands in a small slice of victory.
Los Angeles used to be a blood bath during the 60s and 70s when it came to black liberation struggle. There were more Panthers killed in Los Angeles, than any other city, including the home of BPP, Oakland. We couldn’t believe that not only did he get released and was acquitted of the bogus charges, but he also got paid several million dollars.
Folk gathered and hugged, and waited to see Bro. Geronimo.
But as soon as we saw him he was whisked away to finally get a small taste of a life that was robbed from him.
I never once spoke to Geronimo, but I met him in the living room of Johnny Cochran. That day I met Geronimo, through the thick narrative of Mr. Cochran who was miles away from O.J. or gloves. He spoke with a passion that epitomized his practice of being a revolutionary with a 3-piece.
I had made the trek to a nice area of the city to go speak with Mr. Cochran on his next career venture. It was my last interview for a black local paper. I was thinking about suing them, but Mr. Cochran talked me out of it. Instead he shifted to his law firm and all the cases he vividly served as counsel.
He said with unapologetic assurance, it was the pro bono case he had fought for over two decades, the Geronimo Pratt case that was his proudest and most paranoid experience.
Mr. Cochran would detail the wire tapping at his residence and office, him being followed, and most importantly, a pact he made with Geronimo.
I remember what he said like yesterday. Mr. Cochran told me that the day he agreed to fight all the way with the Black Panther Party leader, it was through a glass where Geronimo was detained. Mr. Cochran put his hand to the glass and Geronimo put his hand where Cochran’s was located, and they made a brotherhood pact.
I confessed that I was always interested in law, but the learning about the realities of an unjust system, discouraged my efforts. He said it was never too late as we wrapped up our conversation. If I were to free a Geronimo, I would clearly understand.
The last time I heard from Mr. Cochran was an endearing thank you note for the Ndebele doll I gave him when I went to South Africa. He would die several years later.
Now those brothers are dapping each other in another dimension.
Justice was served. You will forever be in our hearts and in struggles all over the world.