Elmer 'Geronimo' Pratt: Former Black Panther Dies

Former Black Panther dies at 63.


Former Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt died Thursday at the age of 63 in Tanzania, according to his former lawyer. The ex-activist died in a small village where he lived with his wife and child; the cause of death is still unknown.

Pratt served two tours in Vietnam before joining the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s. In 1968 he was convicted of murdering white schoolteacher Caroline Olsen and imprisoned for 27 years before the case was overturned in 1997. The victim's husband initially identified another man as the killer, but the jury was unaware. Pratt was later awarded a $4.5 million settlement in a false-imprisonment and civil rights lawsuit.

"His legacy is that he never gave up," said his former attorney Stuart Hanlon. "He never got despondent or angry." Johnnie Cochran also assisted with getting Pratt out of jail, and Pratt went on to speak at Cochran's funeral in 2005.

Despite the grave injustice, Pratt assured the public that he held no anger over being imprisoned. "I don't think bitterness has a place. I'm more understanding," Pratt told CNN in a 1999 interview. "Understanding doesn't leave any room for bitterness or anger."

Read more at CNN.

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