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On this date in 1969, Los Angeles police raided the Black Panther headquarters in Los Angeles. This was 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 could shoot Hampton through a wall because they had a detailed map of the apartment provided by an FBI agent who had also ensured 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 fortify the building successfully. The 11 Los Angeles Panthers inside the office maintained 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.
Hundreds of well-wishers greeted the then 49-year-old former paratrooper with words of peace, not bitterness.