Leonard Peltier ~ The World’s Longest Serving Political Prisoner

[Imprisoned since 1976 and Likely Innocent]


He remains locked away in Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida for crimes he likely did not commit.  He’s been there for almost 40 years, he’s old.  He will turn 71 years old in September.  He is not well has not aged well and has had emergency medical treatment on several occasions since his time in prison began.  His fondest wish is to spend his remaining time with his family and his few loyal friends.

Peltier was convicted of the 1975 murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI )agents, Coler and Williams following a shoot out that took place at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  He had spent some time in Canada before Canadian authorities turned him over to the FBI in 1976.

The Pine Ridge Reservation had turned into a virtual battle ground by the time that the incident took place. It is now well known as the Incident at Ogala.

Before continuing, I openly state that I have a few biases when it comes to the Peltier case. His ancestral roots and mine are each Chippewa and French Canadian.  I acknowledge my personal support for the American Indian Movement (AIM) which is an organization dedicated to furthering Aboriginal rights by way of non-violent means.

I am also not unfamiliar with weighing evidence in judicial matters. Frankly, there is little I can say about the decisions that resulted from the various court challenges over the past 40 years that has not already been said and written.  Numerous prominent figures worldwide have pleaded for freedom of Leonard Peltier.  I do so again here and now.

His Court dictated release date would be 2040. Do the math. He was born in 1944.  Few men of 96 years walk among us today little own men who have received extremely rough treatment while in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons.

I can say this much based on the evidence used to convict Peltier: that is only to say that it falls far short of establishing guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.   The thin shred of evidence upon which his conviction rode was (at best) circumstantial.  It put him at or near the scene of the murders. Trial transcripts that I have spent days and weeks reviewing confirm that Leonard was nearby as were several dozen of other AIM members.

I know this much about legitimate criminal convictions. They do not rely on the testimony of witnesses who were not present, received financial gain for their testimony and had major mental health issues. But I certainly have not a wish to recite the entire evidentiary file on Peltier and his many appeals. I know this much: enough far more prominent people than I have pleaded with every USA President since the date of Leonard Peltier’s conviction.  They have had no success.

Former USA Attorney General Ramsay Clark, Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Amnesty International, the European Parliament, The United Nations High Commissioner Human Rights, The Kennedy Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Amnesty International has made similar requests to set Leonard Free.

The remaining single hope for that freedom needs to come from the Oval Office and the desk of the President of the United States of America; Barack Obama.

President Obama is the first black person to serve as President of the United States. If he is even mildly in touch with his own roots as a visible minority, he should show human compassion by way of signing a Presidential Pardon before his term as President ends.

There should be nothing that a Native American can instruct a black man like Obama about prejudice and racial profiling. The time is right to set Leonard Pettier free by way of a Presidential Pardon.

Perhaps if enough of us wrote a polite and respectful note to President Obama, he may allow his own conscience to permit a tired and sick old man to finally walk again in the sun light.

I know that I have a large audience of readers. You have been following my regular steam on musings on Human Rights.  I am asking/inviting you to now take a turn with the pen (or keyboard) and do what hundreds of us have been regularly doing.  Write to President Obama. It does not need to be a long-winded memorandum.  Just a few polite/respectful sentences asking the President to Pardon Leonard Peltier will suffice.  Maybe your letter to President Obama will be the one that finally does the trick.

If you write, they ask that you use only 8 ½ X 11 inch paper. The proper salutation is Mr. President and the address is

President Barack Obama,

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Even easier, do you know that you can email the White House?  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Will you please join me in making one more plea to the President asking him to do the right thing and set Leonard Peltier free?

Chi miigwetch


Copyright   Thunderbird Rising 2015

 The above article is copyrighted.  You may use, copy or distribute this article conditional on attributing your source (Thunderbird Rising) and the author (Lloyd Fournier)

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