[Pnews] “Freedom Riders” demand release of political prisoner Leonard Peltier

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jun 25 10:52:37 EDT 2021


https://www.liberationnews.org/freedom-riders-demand-release-of-political-prisoner-leonard-peltier/
“Freedom
Riders” demand release of political prisoner Leonard Peltier
Sameena Rahman - June 21, 2021
------------------------------

This year marks 45 years since the illegal and cruel incarceration of
Leonard Peltier, a political prisoner and world-renowned fighter for Native
liberation. To honor Leonard’s fight for freedom and his support for the
struggle to save the environment, a group of supporters referring to
themselves as Freedom Riders set out on a horseback journey from the
Winnebago Nation in Omaha, Nebraska to Washington D.C. They are stopping
along the way in various cities to raise awareness about Leonard’s case.

The Freedom Riders describe their journey on their website
<https://freedomride2021.com/>, “As First peoples, along with our allies of
all colors, we are committed to this journey across mother earth, not only
for Leonard‘s freedom, but for the respect due to all of the two legged,
four legged and winged beings that exist here, and for their protection and
for future generations.” They will also be raising awareness about honoring
Native treaties that are routinely flouted by the U.S. government.

The Freedom Riders arrived in Washington D.C. June 21 where they are
leading prayer and drum circles in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter
movement and ending with an outdoor concert. Drummers from the Oglala
nation at the Pine Ridge Reservation, where the shootout that ultimately
led to Leonard’s illegal imprisonment took place, are also expected to
join. Since they began on June 6, the Freedom Riders have been amassing
supporters along the way, with rising excitement to fight for the freedom
of Leonard Peltier.

*Leonard Peltier’s long fight for freedom*

Peltier was wrongfully convicted for a shootout at Oglala on June 26, 1975
and surrounding events, for which the U.S. government and the FBI are
solely responsible. Since then, the U.S. government has rejected numerous
appeals for his freedom despite widespread requests for clemency.

Plainclothes, unidentified FBI agents raided the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation in South Dakota, amidst violent repression by paramilitary
groups that were backed by the U.S. government. Between 1973 and 1975, 64
people, including women and children, were victims of targeted killings by
these paramilitaries because they opposed the corrupt U.S.-aligned tribal
chairman Dick Wilson.

Without any protection from the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the FBI,
members of the American Indian Movement including Leonard Peliter were
asked by members of the Lakota nation for protection. When the FBI agents
invaded the farm on the reservation, a shootout between the FBI and AIM
defenders ensued, resulting in the death of FBI agents Jack Coler and
Ronald Williams. Two of the three Native defendants charged in the agents’
deaths were later exonerated at trial on the basis of self-defense.

However, this exoneration did not extend to Peltier, who was extradited
from Canada in an outrageous campaign waged by the FBI where they
terrorized a Native woman into providing false testimony against Leonard.
The FBI could not charge the other co-defendants so they decided to make
Leonard pay even though he played no role in the agents’ deaths.

Jeanne Roach, an eye-witness of the shootout at Oglala, summarized the
events saying, “Leonard Peltier was illegally railroaded into prison by the
FBI coercing witnesses with threats of death [and] falsifying evidence.”

Roach also said about the Freedom Riders’ journey this year, “We are here
to support Leonard Peltier’s fight for justice and freedom. For years we
came to Washington, D.C. asking for justice! Every President has ignored or
denied the genocidal attacks on our Nations! Political prisoners [are] our
history and Leonard represents continued oppression against our tribal
nation!”

For a full background on Leonard Peltier’s struggle, watch the
documentaries Incident at Oglala by filmmaker Michael Apted and Warrior
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsYAYf_2WQU> by Suzie Bare. The book In
the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen is also essential reading to
understand the U.S. war on Native people and the American Indian Movement,
and the railroading of Leonard Peltier.

To follow the Freedom Riders’ journey, visit freedomride2021.com and donate
to their GoFundMe
<https://www.gofundme.com/f/leonard-peltier-freedom-ride-2021?utm_source=widget&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet>
at Leonard Peltier Freedom Ride 2021. To receive updates about Leonard’s
case and receive newsletters, please visit and sign up at the website
<https://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info/> for the International Leonard
Peltier Defense Committee.
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