This article was originally published at Countercurrents.org
On June 2nd, 2011, former Black Panther and ex-political prisoner, Geronimo ji Jaga, previously known as Geronimo Pratt, died at the age of 63 in Tanzania.
Pratt’s story sheds light to the lie that is US justice. Geronimo Pratt, a veteran in the US’s invasion of Vietnam, was a proponent of Black liberation and armed self-defense against reactionary violence. As a member of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, Pratt trained Black cadre and the masses to defend themselves against violent racists and the reactionary state.
After the deaths of Alprentince ‘Butchy’ Carter and John Higgins in 1969, Pratt, then 20, agreed to lead the Los Angelas Black Panthers chapter. In 1970, as part of the countrywide repression of the BPPSD, Pratt was targeted, arrested and charged with a homicide that had occurred in the city in late 1968. Pratt was at a Party meeting in Oakland when the murder occurred and thought he would be acquitted based on evidence and testimony. Instead, an FBI infiltrator inside the Panthers read a script for the prosecution and key evidence for the defense was “lost.” Pratt was convicted and spent 25 years in prison, the first eight of which in solitary confinement, before the ruling was overturned and he was release in 1997.
Institutions of the imperialist state claiming to carry out justice, such as the police and courts, really serve the imperialist state and work against justice on a daily basis. Pratt’s case, as well as those of others like him, sharply illustrates this point.
Today, the US, along with other imperialist powers, are attempting to exercise the same oppressor “justice” against Muammar Gaddafi. On March 31st, 2011, NATO, western imperialism’s global military wing, began bombing the country’s defenses in support of a small, US-backed rebellion in the oil rich Western region of the country. Since then the West has escalated the offensive to include air-strikes in and around the capital city of Tripoli, along with assassination attempts against the north African leader. On May 16th, 2011, the so-called “International Criminal Court,” based in the Netherlands, formally sought an arrest warrant against Gaddafi for “crimes against humanity.”
The common claim is that Gaddafi is “killing his own people.” Yet, this viewpoint ignores the fact that Amerika is killing people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and now, Libya. What court is seeking an arrest warrant against Barack Obama or George Bush for their crimes? Where is the justice for Hosni Mubarek and Ben Ali, the former US-backed dictators of Egypt and Tunisia, both neighbors of Libya, who killed and used terror against their own people for decades? Or for the Saudi monarchy, which has sent its military to violently crackdown on protest movements across the Arabian Peninsula?
Capitalist-imperialism is the biggest human rights violation of them all, itself structural. Millions of people, mostly in the Third World, die from preventable starvation or preventable diseases so a global minority, mostly in the First World, can live in relative paradise. The International Criminal Court, along with NATO, is an instrument used to perpetuate this social divide.
It is the duty of all revolutionaries to oppose imperialist meddling in any country. Freedom and justice for the masses will never follow behind Western intervention or through the institutions which serve imperialism.
– Nick Brown