[Pnews] Ex-FBI Force Removal of Leonard Peltier Paintings

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 10 15:59:47 EDT 2017


  Ex-FBI Force Removal of Leonard Peltier Paintings

Frank Hopper 
<https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/author/frank-hopper/> • May 9, 2017

*“Freeze! Ex-FBI!”* Would you obey that command? Several State of 
Washington officials did. In November 2015 they removed four paintings 
by American Indian Movement 
activist Leonard Peltier from a state-sponsored exhibition of Native 
American art, primarily due to the complaints of two private groups of 
retired FBI Agents.

Then, in March 2017, Leonard Peltier, who is currently serving two 
consecutive life sentences for murder after a highly controversial 
conviction in 1977, filed suit in federal court along with his son 
Chauncey against leaders of the two groups as well as several State of 
Washington officials, including Governor Jay Inslee 
for violating Peltier’s first amendment rights.

    *Leonard Peltier’s Paintings Removed by a “Heckler’s Veto”*

The four paintings were originally included in a small lobby exhibition 
intended to celebrate Native American Heritage Month 
The paintings, along with work by other Native artists, were on display 
in the lobby of Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries 
headquarters in Tumwater, Washington. None of the artwork by any of the 
artists was political or controversial.

The lawsuit contends 
on November 15, 2015, Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks, his 
Public Affairs Manager Timothy Church, and Governor Jay Inslee caved-in 
to the protests of two retired FBI agents, Edward P. Woods, founder of 
the No Parole Peltier Association <http://www.noparolepeltier.com/>, and 
Larry Langberg, director of the Society of Former Special Agents of the 
FBI <http://www.socxfbi.org/>. On that date Sacks, Church and Inslee 
unceremoniously had Peltier’s paintings removed from the exhibition due 
to “knowingly false statements and slurs” from the former FBI agents 
intended “to induce [state officials] to remove Leonard Peltier’s 
artwork and expression from the exhibition.”

Although, according to the lawsuit, the state only received four 
negative comments regarding Peltier’s paintings and hundreds, “if not 
thousands,” of positive comments supporting their inclusion, Sacks, 
Church and Inslee removed the paintings anyway simply because Leonard 
Peltier himself is “too controversial” and the controversy “detracted 
from the message of the exhibit’ which was unspecified.” The lawsuit 
calls this a “heckler’s veto,” where the government bans protected 
speech because it fears a violent response.

    *Personal Thoughts: Who Are Those Guys?*

Like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid being pursued by the super 
posse, I found myself asking “Who are those guys?” when I first became 
involved in this story. In November 2015, I’d seen a report on Seattle’s 
King 5 
nightly news about the removal of Peltier’s paintings from the exhibit. 
The story called Leonard Peltier a “cop killer” and featured an 
interview with retired FBI agent Ray Lauer in which he referred to 
Leonard as a “thug.” My friends and I staged a small rally outside the 
King 5 studios on Thanksgiving of that year, protesting the ex-FBI 
agent’s and King 5’s blatant slurring of Leonard’s character.

As part of a story I wrote 
I contacted Edward Woods of the No Parole Peltier Association to get his 
side of it. The response I got was both polite and scathing and went on 
for pages. And pages. I wanted to put down my iPad and step away from it 
as I read his email. To me, Woods was more of a junkyard dog than a 
former law enforcement official. I understood why state officials were 
afraid of Woods and his fellow ex-FBI agent Larry Langberg.

They seemed organized and savvy enough to monitor the Internet for any 
news about Leonard

Peltier and ready to send representatives at a moment’s notice to attack 
any attempt to give him publicity. It appeared to me they even contacted 
King 5 and fed them the story about their success at getting the 
paintings removed. But there was one thing they hadn’t counted on: the 
good people at the Olympia Food Co-op.

Volunteers help paint a mural version of incarcerated American Indian 
Movement activist Leonard Peltier’s painting, “Black Kettle Still,” on 
the Eastside Olympia Food Co-op in Olympia, Washington. The public was 
invited to help fill in the color of an outline designed by mural artist 
Ira Coyne. Students from a local high school were even given credit for 
participating and learning about Leonard Peltier.

    *Meanwhile, Back on Planet Earth*

A year and a half after the paintings were removed, I sat in the state 
capital of Olympia having coffee at the Eastside Olympia Food Co-op with 
mural artist Ira Coyne 
Coyne has long been a supporter of Leonard’s, having grown up listening 
to alternative radio programs with his father. One day while at the 
co-op he overheard Brian Frisina, also known as Raven Redbone, the 
moderator of a Native radio program called “No Bones About It” on KAOS, 
a community radio station in Olympia. The two began talking and Frisina 
told Coyne about the removal of Leonard’s paintings. Coyne suggested 
they make a mural of one of Leonard’s paintings as a way to inform the 
community of the country’s longest-held political prisoner.

With the help of Lucas Anderson, a co-op committee member, he received 
permission to paint two murals based on Leonard’s paintings. An 
anonymous donor paid for the project and soon two super-sized versions 
of Leonard Peltier paintings went up, one on each of the co-op’s two 

“The murals are more enduring than just a meeting or a rally. They’re 
always there, keeping the spirit alive,” Coyne said.

As he created the murals, he invited the public to help. Anyone walking 
by could help fill in the outline Coyne had created, similar to a giant 
paint-by-numbers set, and volunteers were told who Leonard Peltier is 
and why his story is important. Since then, Coyne created three 
additional Peltier murals in Minneapolis and one more by Olympia’s 
Artesian Well, bringing the total to six.

At the opening of the mural on the Eastside branch of the Olympia Food 
Co-op, a strange man appeared and began taking pictures of the mural 
with a telephoto lens. He stayed back at first and then became bolder, 
snapping pictures out in front of the mural. He never spoke to anyone 
and finally got in his car and drove away.

“I asked Chauncey about it,” Ira recalled, speaking of Leonard’s son who 
was there attending the opening. “Chauncey said, ‘Oh, those guys are 
always following me around.’”

Leonard Peltier’s son Chauncey displays a print of his father’s 
painting, “On a Hunt,” while standing in front of a mural based on it, 
co-painted by Forrest Wozniak and Elijah Benson. It appears on the 
exterior of the White Page Gallery in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of 
three Peltier murals in Minneapolis designed and supervised by artist 
Ira Coyne.

But no amount of surveillance or bullying can stop the healing brought 
about by Leonard Peltier’s art. Ironically, the barking of the ex-FBI 
junkyard dogs has resulted in six separate murals in two different 
cities and countless lives being touched by them. The medicine of an old 
warrior applying color to a canvas in a maximum-security prison 
reverberates out into the hearts of communities across the country, 
creating much more awareness of Leonard Peltier and of our nation’s true 
history than the original exhibition ever would have.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/ppnews_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20170510/6379cce6/attachment.html>

More information about the PPnews mailing list