[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
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. Peltiers 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
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
Peltiers 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.
Peltiers supporters, which include a huge
international component and human rights
organizations such as Amnesty International, say
he is Americas 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 wouldnt really describe myself as an
activist, but I want to do the right thing by my
mothers side of the family and more than
anything I want my country to do the right things
as they promised, but theyre making up the laws as we go along.
Fife said Peltiers 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 Leonards
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 thats 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 Peltiers cause, Fife said.
We wanted to find a spiritual connection to this
so it wasnt just a protest or demonstration, but
something that is unifying and would bring
attention to Leonards 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 nations 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 Peltiers release at the Interior Department.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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