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Free Leonard Peltier!!!

The name Leonard Peltier has become a familiar name all around the world. The name represents a long history of injustice, persecution, and oppression of Native Americans in both a historical and concrete context. Leonard Peltier is an INNOCENT man who has been incarcerated for over two decades for a crime which the government concedes there is no direct evidence against him.
On June 26th, 1975, Peltier was among 30 or so Indian men, women, and children camped on the property of Harry and Cecilia Jumping Bull, asked to maintain a presence in the area to protect those traditional people who felt endangered. At that time the tribal chairman of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota was a corrupt and vicious man who assembled a GOON Squad (Gaurdians of the Oglala Nation) to ensure the silence of his adversaries. The GOONs were armed and trained by the FBI.
On that tragic summer morning, a covert buildup of FBI and other law enforcement agents began. By early afternoon, according to radio communications of the South Dakota Attorney General's Office, FBI agents were already hiding within the Jumping Bull property. A document had been released months before regarding "the use of paramilitary law Indian country."
Agents Jack Coler and Ron Williams were also in the area, ostensibly attempting to arrest a young man who had stolen a pair of used cowboy boots. Today we know this scenario is untrue. Today we know the agents were observing activity before one of the houses in the area, and that there was back up nearby. Those observed in the area then got into a red pickup and proceeded onto the road. The agents pursued. When all vehicles pulled over, shots were fired. The result was an all day firefight involving the 30 Indian men, women, and children and over 150 FBI agents, BIA police, US Marshals, and GOONs. By the day's end three young lives were unnecessarily lost.
Four individuals were originally indicted for the deaths of Jack Coler and Ron Williams. The death of Joe Stuntz was never investigated, despite evidence that disputes the government's theory that he was killed by a long range sniper bullet.
Two men were tried together in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They were found not guilty. The jury foreman stated that even if the jurors believed these individuals shot the agents, they would have acquitted anyway due to the FBI's abuse of Indian people and the fear and terror suffered by the residents in the area. Charges against the fourth individual were dropped. This left only Peltier.
The prosecution team accompanied by the FBI began by moving the case back to the Dakotas, despite their knowledge that chances were for a fair trial were slim. Secondly they hand-picked a judge so well known for his racist, anti-Indian attitudethat he has been reversed by the Eighth Circuit for anti-Indian remarks in his own courtroom.. Peltier was exradited from Canada, where he had fled under direction of his elders, by the use of admittedly fraudulent affadavits. Member of Parliament, Honorable Warren Allmand, has investigated this for Canada and agrees with Amnesty International and the US Commission on Civil Rights that this was just the beginning of the railroading of Leonard Peltier. Jurors were convinced that at any moment, snipers would shoot them. The windows were blacked to avoid sniper fire and armed men stood sentry in and around the court house. Peltier was convicted before the jury even heard his case. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms. Today, through legal actions, investigations and the forced release of thousands of documents it can be proven that an innocent man continues to pay the price of prosecutorial misconduct. The Eighth Circuit Court has found that the trial judge erred in his rulings preventing a proper defense, the government witnesses were not telling the truth, exculpatory evidence was withheld, other evidence was fabricated, and witnesses were coerced.
Why then is Peltier still incarcerated? His first appeal was denied BEFORE the Freedom of Information Act suit saw the new documents released. The second appeal was lost on an error by his own attorney. The third appeal was denied because it was not argued in a timely fashion and the most recent appeal was a complete setup where his lawyer was not allowed to speak and the parole committee had basically ruled against him before the hearing even occurred. During the hearing the government once again admitted to having NO IDEA who killed the two agents but said someone must pay. He was denied parole on one occassion for not for not giving "a specific account of his actions...consistent with the jury's verdict of guilt." How can an innocent man satisfy such a demand , how can he find freedom. HOW LONG MUST AN INNOCENT MAN WAIT FOR JUSTICE?

Top Ten Reasons (in the words of the government) Why Leonard Peltier Should Be Free

  • "The United States government must share in the responsibility for the June 26 firefight... It appeared that the FBI was equally to blame for the shootout... - Gerald Heaney, Senior Judge in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a letter supporting clemency for Leonard Peltier.
  • "We can't prove who shot those agents... Aiding and abetting whoever did the final shooting. Perhaps aiding and abetting himself. And hopefully the jury would believe that in effect he had done it all. But aiding and abetting nevertheless." -Prosecutor Lynn Crooks in Court of Appeals, October 15, 1985.
  • "But can't you see... that what happened happened in such a way that it gives some credence to the claim... that the United States is willing to resort to any tactic in order to bring somebody back to the United States from Canada. And if they are willing to do that, they must be willing to fabricate evidence as well." -Judge Donald Ross, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, referring to the coerced and perjured affidavits used to extradite Leonard Peltier from Canada. Transcript of the proceedings (oral arguments) in US v. Peltier, CR C77-3003 "Motion to Vacate Judgement and for a New Trial," at 7326-7.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation teletype dated October 2, 1975, indicating that (FBI ballistics expert) Evan Hodge had performed a firing pin test on the Wichita AR-15 (claimed by the government to have been Leonard Peltier's) immediately after he received it and compared it to the cartridges found at the scene. Contrary to his trial testimony that the test was inconclusive, this memo conclusively stated that the rifle contained "a different firing pin" from the weapon used in the firefight. This exculpatory evidence was withheld from the defense, and only discovered years after the trial with the release of documents via the Freedom of Information Act.
  • "There are only two alternatives... to the government's contention that the .223 casing was ejected into the trunk of Coler's car when the Wichita AR-15 was fired at the agents. One alternative is that the .223 casing was planted in the trunk of Coler's car either before its discovery by the investigating agents or by the agents who reported the discovery. The other alternative is that a non-matching casing was originally found in the trunk and sent to the FBI laboratory, only to be replaced by a matching casing when the importance of a match to the Wichita AR-15 became evident." - Judges of the Appeals panel, Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, "Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota," op. cit., p. 16. The Court recognized that key evidence against Leonard Peltier could only have been fabricated, but went on to say "We recognize that there is evidence in this record of improper conduct on the part of some FBI agents, but we are reluctant to impute even further improprieties to them."
  • "The jury agreed with the defense contention that an atmosphere of fear and violence exists on the reservation, and that the defendants arguably could have been shooting in self-defense. While it was shown that the defendants [Dino Butler and Bob Robideau] were firing guns in the direction of the agents, it was held that this was not excessive in the heat of passion." -Jury Foreman Robert Bolin, after the acquittal of Butler and Robideau for their roles in the firefight.
  • Leonard Peltier was targeted for "neutralization" by the FBI years before the firefight; in 1972 two off-duty Milwaukee police officers beat Peltier and then had him charged with attempted murder. This occurred after one of the officers had shown a picture of Peltier to his girlfriend and boasted of "catching a big one for the FBI." (U.S. v. Peltier, CR 77-3003-1, U.S. Court for the District of North Dakota, November, 1990, p. 12). Both incidents were entirely consistent with the FBI's COINTEL program, which targeted any individuals or groups with political voices.
  • "...[L]ittle has been done to solve numerous murders on the reservation, but when two white men are killed 'troops' are brought in from all over the country at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars." - Civil Rights Commission Chairman Arthur J. Flemming on the reaction to the FBI agents' deaths in (his words again), "an extreme over-reaction which takes on aspects of a vendetta...a full scale military type invasion" of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
  • "... the FBI [was] determined to get the AIM movement and completely destroy it." -Judge Fred Nichol, after presiding over the "Wounded Knee Leadership Trial," quoted in NY Times, Sept. 17, 1974.
  • "We don't know who shot those agents"- Prosecutor Lynn Crooks in Court of Appeals, Nov. 9, 1992, p. 12 of oral arguments transcript.


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Free Leonard Peltier in 1998
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