[Pnews] Leonard Peltier - 40th Anniversary of the Incident at Oglala
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Jun 25 10:29:25 EDT 2015
40th Anniversary of the Incident at Oglala
*contact at whoisleonardpeltier.inf
Forty years ago, on June 26, 1975, two agents of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI)—Jack Coler and Ron Williams—entered private property
on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, South Dakota. They drove unmarked
vehicles, wore plain clothes, and neglected to identify themselves as
law enforcement officers. They allegedly sought to arrest a young Indian
man for the theft of a pair of cowboy boots.
Members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were camping on the
property (having been invited there to protect elders from the extreme
violence on the reservation at that time).
For unknown reasons, a shoot-out began. A family with small children was
trapped in the cross fire. Throughout the ranch, people screamed that
they were under attack and many of the men present hurried to return
fire. When the skirmish ended, the two FBI agents were dead. A young
Native American man, Joe Stuntz, also lay dead, shot through the head by
a sniper bullet.
Activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 in connection
with the shooting deaths of the FBI’s agents. Imprisoned for nearly 40
years—currently at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida—Peltier has
been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International. Nelson
Mandela, Desmond Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others—including a
judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals—have
all called for his immediate release. Widely recognized for his
humanitarian works and a six-time Nobel Prize nominee, Peltier also is
an accomplished author and painter.
For two years prior to the shootout, reservation residents were victims
of beatings, drive-by shootings, and stabbings carried out by local
vigilantes who collaborated with the FBI. The AIM activists were forced
into a defensive posture to protect not only their lives, but the lives
of others—elders, women, and children. Indeed, Mr. Peltier’s
co-defendants were acquitted on grounds of self-defense. Had he been
tried with his co-defendants, Peltier also would have been acquitted.
The evidence shows the U.S. government’s intent to achieve Mr. Peltier’s
conviction by any means—including falsifying extradition documents and
intentionally committing fraud on a Canadian court, as well as coercing
witnesses, intentionally using false testimonies, and suppressing
evidence of Mr. Peltier’s innocence during his trial. By the
government’s own admission, the critical part of the prosecution’s case
against Mr. Peltier was the ballistics testimony which, years after his
conviction, was discovered to be false. Although the courts have
acknowledged evidence of government misconduct, Peltier has been denied
a new trial.*
The Peltier case has been examined by renowned author Peter Matthiessen
(“In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”) and by a documentary film produced and
narrated by Robert Redford (“Incident at Oglala”). The absence of
fairness in every stage of Peltier’s case troubles many people around
the world and compels foreign governments and international human rights
organizations to question Peltier’s continuing imprisonment.
The power to commute Peltier’s two life sentences now rests with
President Barack Obama.
*US Versus Leonard Peltier: Evidence of a Wrongful Conviction. From the
files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at http://goo.gl/ZbP45h
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