In response to the death of Geronimo Pratt, ACLU/SC Chief Counsel Mark Rosenbaum issued the following statement:
The ACLU represented Geronimo throughout his terrible nearly three decades-long ordeal along with Stuart Hanlon and Johnnie Cochran, first during his federal habeas action and then his successful state habeas. I was privileged to argue his case before the state Court of Appeal; the decision of that court resulted in his freedom.
It’s not well known that the State several times offered Geronimo parole if he confessed to the brutal murders for which he was convicted and framed by local law enforcement and the FBI. Geronimo refused each time, though it meant he could not be free, could not be with his wife and the child he had never spent time with because he was born after Geronimo was sent to prison. Geronimo spent almost ten years in solitary confinement, but never wavered as to his insistence of innocence. I’ve never met a man like Geronimo who was willing to sacrifice his life to maintain the integrity of his soul. He valued human life far more than his oppressors—the officers of the LAPD and the District Attorneys office and the FBI, all of whose racial bigotry cost a good man the prime of his life. Geronimo was profuse in his gratitude to his lawyers and supporters, but it really should have been the other way around. He forever inspired us by his fealty to the truth and his belief that racial justice would not be furthered by an innocent black man confessing to a crime he did not commit. His was a life of a blessed justice within a system of harsh injustice.