Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? .Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? Romaine 'Chip' Fitzgerald is a former member
Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? .Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? Romaine 'Chip' Fitzgerald is a former member

Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? .Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? Romaine 'Chip' Fitzgerald is a former member

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Text of Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? .Who is Romaine Fitzgerald? Romaine 'Chip' Fitzgerald is a former member

Who is Romaine Fitzgerald?Romaine 'Chip' Fitzgerald is a former member

of the Southern California chapter of the BlackPanther Party. He is currently serving 2 life sen-tences for the murder of a security guard andattempted murder of a CHP officer.

ChildhoodRomaine Fitzgerald was raised in Compton,

CA. With his parents away at work, trying tomake ends meet, Chip began to spend his dayshustling on the streets at an early age. By age 13,he began to follow in the footsteps of those hang-ing out on the corners and soon found himself inin and out of the juvenile prison system, includinga stay at the Junior Camp in Malibu Canyon. In1967, he was accused of stealing a TV set andwas sent to Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) inTracy, CA.

While at Tracy, he was introduced to revolu-tionary politics. He soon found himself harassedby prison authorities because he spoke out onprison conditions, treatment of prisoners and theinstitutional racism that ran rampant at the facili-ty. He spent over half of his time (a total of oneyear) in the hole. Despite this, he developed polit-ical education classes and made a pact with fourother prisoners that they would all join the BlackPanthers when they were released.

As promised, when released they all joined theSouthern California chapter of the BlackPanthers.. Chip began to work in the Watts sec-tion and soon became section leader on theWestside.

Shoot-OutOn September 7th, 1969, California Highway

Patrol pulled over a Volkswagen with Romaine'Chip' Fitzgerald and two other members of theBlack Panther Party (Robert Williams and LuxeyIrvin). According to the Los Angeles Times, themen were stopped on the corner of ComptonBlvd and Van Ness Ave in Gardena, CA for afaulty taillight.

During the traffic stop a shooting broke out,leaving one officer and Chip Fitzgerald injured.The three Black Panthers managed to escapefrom the scene, leaving the injured officer in pos-session of Fitzgeralds drivers license.

The next day, Chip escaped another shootoutwith police as he and the others attempted to fleefrom the house where they were held up at. Thetwo other men were arrested during the alterca-tion with one of the men shot in the leg.Fitzgerald, still suffering from a gunshot wound tothe head, managed to escape to the Pantherheadquarters in South-Central Los A n g e l e s .There, Fitzgerald was able to receive treatment,but was informed on by a police informant. Policeraided the headquarters only to find a blood-soaked jacket. Chip managed to escape arrestfor a third time.

Chip avoided being arrested until October 9th,when he was detained without incident. Afterbeing taken custody, he was informed that hewas not only charge with the attempted murder ofthe CHP officer, but was also charged with themurder of a private security guard, Barge Miller.

Barge MillerOn September 29, 1969 at 1:42 am, Barge

Miller a security guard at Vons Shopping Centerlocated at El Segundo and Avalon Boulevards inLos Angeles was shot and robbed while sitting inhis car. Two men were seen fleeing from thescene by a witness, James Coleman.

Coleman identified Romaine Fitzgerald in courtas one of the men fleeing from the scene. While

Coleman claims he did not get a good look at theshooter due to the fluorescent lighting of parkinglot, he was sure it was Chip. Despite his confi-dence, he admitted Chip looked different in courtthan when he had seen him during the earlymorning hours of September 29, 1969. Heclaimed Fitzgeralds hair was now shorter.

During the investigation, Coleman was shownseveral photographs of suspects, including oneof Romaine Fitzgerald. However, Coleman couldnot identify Chip as the one who committed thecrime. Later, he denied ever stating that he could-nt identify Fitzgerald.

During cross-examination, the Coleman wasnot even able to describe the judge in the case,when asked to describe him without looking.

According to Chips defense, because of thegunshot wound to his head, Chip kept a two-inchwide gauze bandage on the wound for aboutthree or four weeks. He had removed the band-age about three to five days prior to his arrest onOctober 9, 1969. Coleman stated nothing about agauze bandage, something that is hard to miss.

Chip denied being in the vicinity of the Vonsparking lot during the early morning hours ofSeptember 29, 1969, and denied participating inany way in the shooting or robbing of BargeMiller. He testified that he never went outside atnight before October 9, 1969, because he did notwant to infect his head injury.

Chip had witnesses that he was not at the VonsShopping center during the murder. DorisPratt, Fitzgerald & Warren Wells

Romaine Chip Fitzgerald in 1998

Haughton and her sister, Janice Sadler sharedan apartment with Romaine Fitzgerald and statedthat he had not left the apartment on the eveningof September 28, 1969.

Despite his witnesses, he was convicted offirst-degree murder in the case of Barge Miller.He was sentenced to death in 1970.

Chip was also tried for the attempted murderof the CHP officer Leslie Clapp. During the trial,the officer admitted that he had orders to shootmembers of the Black Panther Party. Despite thisadmission, the judge in the case ordered the juryto ignore the statement. Chip was subsequentlyfound guilty and was sentenced to life for hisinvolvement in the shootout.

Chip and his supporters, believe the murder ofBarge Miller was pinned on him because of hismembership in the Black Panther Party andbecause of his previous altercations with thepolice. In both trials, the prosecutor referred tothe other cases to create fear and hysteria in thehearts of the juries. Despite the conviction, hehas maintained his innocence in the death ofBarge Miller.

When the Supreme Court outlawed capitalpunishment in 1972, Fitzgerald and others onCalifornias Death Row had their sentences com-muted to life in prison with the possibility ofparole.

Chip has now spent more time in prison thanon the streets, coming up on 40 years of impris-onment. Over the years, he has witnessed hisfamily pass away and his mother fall ill.

In recent years there has been a new mobiliza-tion on behalf of Chip, consisting of organizationslike the Brown Berets, NAACP and the AnarchistBlack Cross Federation. A new organization-known as the Committee to Free ChipFitzgerald- has been formed by representativesof some of these groups, along with former mem-bers of the Black Panther Party like ElaineBrown. The new committee has focused onChips parole hearings and legal appeals. In2008 Chip was denied parole but there is a cam-paign currently mobilizing for his next hearing.

If you wish to write to Chip, write tohim at:


Kern Valley State PrisonP.O. Box 5101

A-1-111Delano, CA 93216

Local groups working with Chip:

Committee to Free Chip Fitzgerald629 Main Street No. 195Watsonville, CA 9 5 0 7 6

f r e e c h i p f i t z g e r a l d @ y a h o o . c o mw w w. f r e e c h i p . o r g

Jericho Amnesty CoalitionPO Box 34186

Los Angeles, CA 90034

Anarchist Black Cross Federation(ABCF)

PO Box 11223Whittier, CA 90603email: la@abcf.net

Romaine ChipFitzgerald

Black PantherPolitical Prisoner

Serving life Sentence

Free Chip Fitzgerald