[Ppnews] Leonard Peltier - America's Unfinished Business
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 19 11:08:12 EDT 2008
September 18, 2008 - The Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee
(LP DOC) is campaigning to raise awareness and educate the public
about Leonard Peltier for the purpose of mobilizing people to take
actions to set him free.
September 12th marked the 64th birthday of Leonard Peltier, an
American Indian male convicted to two life sentences based on
fabricated testimony and circumstantial evidence. Many of us see
this as the typical injustice perpetuated against American Indians in
the legal system that exists through today. Mr. Peltier, a citizen
of the Anishinabe and Lakota Nations, is a father, a grandfather, an
artist, a writer, and an Indigenous rights activist. He has spent
more than thirty-three years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Amnesty International considers him a "political prisoner" who should
be "immediately and unconditionally released."
Leonard Peltier was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He came from a
large family of 13 brothers and sisters. He grew up in poverty, and
survived many traumatic experiences resulting from U.S. government
policies aimed to assimilate Native Peoples. At the age of eight he
was taken from his family and sent to a residential boarding school
for Native people run by the US Government.
In the late 1960's and early 1970's Leonard Peltier began traveling
to different Native communities. He spent a lot of time in Washington
and Wisconsin and was working as a welder, carpenter, and community
counselor for Native people. In the course of his work he became
involved with the American Indian Movement (AIM) and eventually
joined the Denver Colorado chapter. In Denver, he worked as a
community counselor confronting unemployment, alcohol problems and
poor housing. He became strongly involved in the spiritual and
traditional programs of AIM.
Leonard Peltier's participation in the American Indian Movement led
to his involvement in the 1972 Trail of broken Treaties which took
him to Washington D.C., in the occupation of the Bureau of Indian
Affairs building. Eventually his AIM involvement would bring him to
assist the Oglala Lakota People of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
in South Dakota in the mid 1970's. On Pine Ridge he participated in
the planning of community activities, religious ceremonies, programs
for self-sufficiency, and improved living conditions. He also helped
to organize security for the traditional people who were being
targeted for violence by the pro-assimilation tribal chairman and his
vigilantes. It was here that the tragic shoot-out of June 26, 1975
occurred, leading to his wrongful conviction.
The court record in this case clearly shows that government
prosecutors have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler
and Mr. Williams nor what role Leonard Peltier "may have" played in
the tragic shoot-out. Despite many such admissions, Mr. Leonard
Peltier remains imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Other persons guilty of worse crimes have
been released time and time again on parole or pardoned, yet Mr.
Peltier remains imprisoned.
To the international community, the case of Leonard Peltier is a
stain on America's Human Rights record. Nelson Mandela, Rigoberta
Menchu, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, the Dalai Lama,
the European Parliament, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human
Rights, and Rev. Jesse Jackson are only a few who have called for his
freedom. To many Indigenous Peoples, Leonard Peltier is a symbol of
the long history of abuse and repression they have endured. The
National Congress of American Indians and the Assembly of First
Nations, representing the majority of First Nations in the U.S. and
Canada, have repeatedly called for Leonard Peltier's freedom.
Despite the harsh conditions of imprisonment, Leonard Peltier has
continued to lead an active life.
From behind bars, he has helped to establish scholarships for Native
students and special programs for Indigenous youth. He has served on
the advisory board of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, and has
sponsored children in Central America. He has donated to battered
women's shelters, organized the annual Christmas drive for the people
of Pine Ridge Reservation, and promoted prisoner art programs.
Leonard Peltier is widely recognized for his good deeds and in turn
has won several awards including the North Star Frederick Douglas
Award; Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of the Year
Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights
Prize; and 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2004,
2006 and again in 2007, Mr. Peltier also was nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize five times.
He has also established himself as a talented artist, using oils to
paint portraits of his people, portraying their cultures and
histories. He has written poetry and prose from prison, and completed
a moving biography titled Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance
(St. Martin's Press, NY, 1999).
Leonard Peltier credits his ability to endure his circumstances to
his spiritual practices and the love and support from his family and
Leonard Peltier is America's unfinished business and a symbol of the
injustice perpetrated against all American Indians. It is time to
stop the 34 years of injustice and is 34 years too long to have
imprisoned an innocent man. Freedom for Leonard Peltier is way overdue!
Leonard Peltier's first full parole hearing was held in 1993, at
which time his case was continued for a 15-year reconsideration.
He'll be eligible for another full parole hearing in December 2008.
An application for parole will be filed at Mr. Peltier's discretion.
The earliest that hearing is likely to occur is in January 2009
(according to the Parole Commission's schedule for in-person parole
reviews to be held at USP-Lewisburg, where Peltier is currently imprisoned).
Anyone and everyone can help Leonard Peltier get justice and freedom.
First sign the online petition that can be found at
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/parole2008/, they can also
download sample letters of support from
http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/parole.htm. Each tribal member
can urge their Tribal Nation to pass a formal Resolution also found
at http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info for submission to the US Parole Board.
To support Mr. Peltier by contributing directly to his commissary
account, can send funds through the mail to the following address:
Federal Bureau of Prisons
Leonard Peltier #89637-132, Post Office Box 474701, Des Moines, Iowa
The deposit must be in the form of a money order made out
to: Leonard Peltier 89637-132. The Bureau of Prisons will return
funds that do not have valid inmate information to the sender
provided the envelope has an adequate return address. Personal checks
and cash can not be accepted for deposit. The sender's name and
return address must appear on the upper left hand corner of the
envelope to ensure that the funds can be returned to the sender in
the event that they can not be posted to the inmate's account. The
deposit envelope must not contain any items intended for delivery to
the inmate. The Bureau of Prisons shall dispose of all items included
with the funds.
In the event funds have been mailed but have not been received in the
inmate's account and adequate time has passed for mail service to Des
Moines, Iowa, the sender must initiate a tracer with the entity who
sold them the money order to resolve any issues.
Western Union Quick Collect Program
People can also send funds to Leonard through Western Union's Quick
Collect Program. All funds sent via Western Union's Quick Collect
will be posted to Leonard's account within two to four hours, when
those funds are sent between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. EST (seven days
per week, including holidays). Funds received after 9:00 pm EST will
be posted by 7:00 am EST the following morning. Funds sent through
the Quick Collect Program may be sent via one of the following ways:
1) At an agent location with cash: You must complete a Quick
Collect Form. To find the nearest agent, they may call
1-800-325-6000 or go to www.westernunion.com.
2) By phone using a credit/debit card: Simply call
1-800-634-3422 and press option 2.
3) Via the Internet using a credit/debit card: Go to
www.westernunion.com and select "Quick Collect".
For each Western Union Quick Collect transaction, the following
information must be provided:
Valid Inmate Eight Digit Register Number (89637-132)
Committed Inmate Name (Leonard Peltier)
Code City: FBOP
State code: DC
It is very uplifting to Mr. Peltier to receive letters and
cards. Write to him at:
Leonard Peltier - # 89637-132, USP Lewisburg, US Penitentiary, P.O. Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837-1000.
At the very least if everyone that reads this would write the US
Parole Board at United States Parole Commission, 5550 Friendship
Boulevard, Suite 420, Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7286 to offer your whole
hearted support for the release of Leonard Peltier. And please
write, write, write, to Congressmen, the President, Human Rights
Organizations, and Tribal Leaders in support of freedom for Leonard
The Leonard Peltier Offense Defense Committee can be found on the web
at: www.whoisleonardpeltier.info. Contact person for the LP DOC is
Betty Ann Peltier-Solano at (701) 235-2206.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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