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On this date in 1969, Los Angeles police raided the Black Panther headquarters, in L.A., four days after police assassinated Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago.
During the battle, the Panthers withstood the police attacks, including a bomb dropped on the roof of the building. Frustrated, the police arrested Elmer Geronimo Pratt, the Panther's Deputy Minister of Defense, on a fabricated robbery and murder charge that was later dismissed. In Chicago, they were able to shoot Hampton through a wall because they had a detailed map of the apartment provided by an FBI agent who had also made sure Hampton would be on the other side of that wall by drugging his food the night before.
Pratt, a decorated Vietnam veteran, had used his military training to successfully fortify the building. The 11 Los Angeles Panthers inside the office kept up their resistance for five hours on that December night! On June 10, 1997, after 27 years in prison, many of them under severe hardship in solitary confinement, Elmer Geronimo Pratt’s conviction was overturned and he was released.
The then 49-year-old former paratrooper was greeted by hundreds of well-wishers with words of peace, not bitterness.