[Ppnews] Peltier supporters to seek clemency during White House meeting

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Oct 30 10:30:25 EDT 2009

Peltier supporters to seek clemency during White House meeting

Originally printed at http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/67580927.html

WASHINGTON – Leonard Peltier supporters will seek 
clemency for the imprisoned 
<http://www.aimovement.org>American Indian 
Movement activist during a historic meeting 
between President Barack Obama and hundreds of 
tribal leaders of federally recognized nations.

for Clemency for Leonard Peltier is organizing a 
peaceful and prayerful act of solidarity “to 
bring attention to Mr. Peltier’s continued unjust 
imprisonment as a Native American political 
prisoner,” according to Rob Fife, one of the organizers.

The event will take place in conjunction with the 
House Tribal Nations Conference on Nov. 5 from 9 
a.m. – 5:30 p.m. at the Interior Department building in Washington, D.C.

Fife, a Nez Perce Cayuse Indian, and Ben Carns, a 
member of the 
<http://www.choctawnation.com/>Choctaw Nation, 
fasted and offered prayers for seven days in 
September in front of the White House in the hope 
of having an audience with Obama and asking him 
to consider issuing an executive order of 
clemency for Peltier. The meeting did not occur, 
but the gesture gave rise to a renewed focus on 
Peltier’s plight in the indigenous community.

The Circle for Clemency was founded in October by 
Fife, Carns, and indigenous rights activists 
Wanbli Tate, Larry Monterrey and Barbara Low.

Peltier has been in prison for more than 33 
years. He was convicted in 1977 and given two 
consecutive life sentences for the murder of FBI 
Special Agents Jack R. Coler and Ronald A. 
Williams, who were killed during a shootout on 
the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota June 26, 1975.

Although Peltier has served more than the minimum 
sentence required for the crime, he was denied 
parole Aug. 21. Parole officials said granting 
parole would diminish the seriousness of the crime.

The 64-year-old Peltier has maintained his 
innocence, but controversy over whether he 
committed the murders, and over the fairness of 
his trial persist. Those convinced of his guilt 
say he shot the two agents in cold blood and 
deserves to stay in prison for the rest of his life.

Peltier’s supporters, which include a huge 
international component and human rights 
organizations such as Amnesty International, say 
he is America’s most famous and longest serving political prisoner.

Fife, a horse-trainer, said he has never met 
Peltier, but he has signed petitions and written 
letters in support of him. The decision to deny 
Peltier parole was devastating both to Peltier and his supporters, Fife said.

“I wouldn’t really describe myself as an 
activist, but I want to do the right thing by my 
mother’s side of the family and more than 
anything I want my country to do the right things 
as they promised, but they’re making up the laws as we go along.”

Fife said Peltier’s innocence or guilt is no longer relevant.

“There are people who have committed much more 
heinous crimes. Leonard has served his time. 
There are people who can argue Leonard’s 
innocence or guilt much better than I can. But I 
do know the guilt of this nation in dealing with 
Leonard and with indigenous people and doing it 
in a way that’s different from the way they deal 
with people of European ancestry.”

The White House Tribal Nations Conference seemed 
like the logical next step to take in pushing 
forward Peltier’s cause, Fife said.

“We wanted to find a spiritual connection to this 
so it wasn’t just a protest or demonstration, but 
something that is unifying and would bring 
attention to Leonard’s imprisonment again, bring it back into the public eye.”

The Circle for Clemency and supporters will 
gather at Lafayette Park in front of the White 
House for sunrise prayers conducted by 
traditional spiritual leaders at 6 a.m. Nov. 5. 
Then they will walk to the Interior Department 
building “to respectfully greet their tribal 
representatives, welcome them to the conference 
and ask that each of them include within their 
individual nation’s agenda a simple request for 
clemency regarding Leonard Peltier,” Fife said.

The participants will spend the rest of the day 
in a prayer vigil for Peltier’s release at the Interior Department.

Freedom Archives
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