How The FBI Has Consistently Undermined Black Resistance

front of the FBI building in minnesota
Ricky Riley
September 12, 2022

Black Panther Elmer "Geronimo" Pratt was identified as a “Key Black Extremist” and framed by the FBI for killing an elementary school teacher, Caroline Olsen, during a robbery in 1968.

The FBI’s entire case relied on testimony from an informant and the victim’s husband – though the husband later identified a different man as the culprit, and Pratt’s team demonstrated that he was 350 miles away during the robbery. Despite this, Pratt was sentenced to 27 years in prison.

In 1997, a judge finally freed Pratt, overturning the conviction because the informant lied. Pratt ended up winning a $4.5 million civil rights settlement against the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Although Pratt was freed and paid, his 3-decade prison stint was a huge blow to the momentum of the Black Panther movement.

His case wasn’t the only one. The FBI refused to investigate white supremacists within police departments for decades. It investigated Marcus Garvey instead of the roots of the Tulsa Massacre. And with COINTELPRO, infiltrated movements like the Black Panthers in order to take them down.

The long white supremacist history of the FBI shows the priorities of the U.S. government – and reveals how a large-scale transformation of our entire system is necessary if we’re ever going to truly get justice.