LOS ANGELES : Protesters Demand Release of Ex-Black Panther Leader
About 50 protesters stormed Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti’s office Tuesday, demanding the immediate release of Elmer (Geronimo) Pratt, a former leader of the Black Panther Party.
Holding signs reading “Free Geronimo,” “Pratt--Freedom Now,” and “23 Years Is Too Many,” the demonstrators chanted in the front reception area of Garcetti’s office for several minutes.
About 25 sheriff’s deputies escorted them into the hall of the Downtown Criminal Courts Building and told them to leave the building. No arrests were made.
“They were just demonstrators after a cause,” said Evelyn Tapia, Garcetti’s receptionist. “But I’ve never seen anything like this in the seven years I’ve worked here.”
Pratt, the 46-year-old former deputy defense minister of the Black Panther Party, is serving a life sentence for the 1968 murder of a schoolteacher during a robbery in Santa Monica. His 13th parole hearing is scheduled for today at a state prison in Tehachapi.
Pratt contends he was at a Black Panther Party meeting in Oakland at the time of the murder and was framed in an FBI effort to undermine radical groups.
The protesters hoped to influence the district attorney to push for the immediate release of Pratt, said Doris Boyd-Snyder, who led the demonstration and is vice president of Local 399 of the Service Employees International Union.