Washington D.C. - Yesterday, supporters asking for the release of American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier arrived in Washington and hosted a march and rally at the Lincoln Memorial. The American Indian Movement’s Grand Governing Council (AIMGGC) began the 1,100-mile Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice on Sept. 1. The group completed their final mile on Sunday from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial with nearly 2,000 supporters. “We just walked for 1,103 miles for our elder Leonard Peltier,” walk organizer Rachel Thunder said at Sunday’s rally. “We just marched 1,103 miles for our people, for justice for our people. When Leonard is free, we are all free.” Peltier was convicted in 1977 for aiding and abetting the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in June 1975.
Leonard Peltier’s name has become a story that reflects other stories. One narrative describes Peltier as America’s longest political prisoner, serving more than 46 years in a federal maximum security prison. In that telling, Peltier has become a humanitarian and a 78-year-old Turtle Mountain elder who has been incarcerated for far too long. There is a long list of people, tribes and organizations that have called for Peltier’s freedom. The former prosecutor in the case. Members of Congress. Amnesty International USA. Pope John Francis. The Dalai Lama. The National Congress of American Indians. Dozens of tribal nations, including Peltier’s own tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. And, as of this month, the Democratic National Committee.
Volunteers demanding the freedom of Leonard Peltier have trekked 500 miles over the last four weeks in a protest walk organized by the American Indian Movement (AIM) Grand Governing Council. Peltier (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians), 78, was convicted of aiding and abetting in the murder of two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on June 26, 1975. He has spent the last 46 years in federal prison. AIM hopes the walk will raise awareness for Peltier’s plight and apply some pressure on President Joe Biden to grant executive clemency to Peltier. “The walk and prayer for Elder Peltier has been heartfelt, heavy and healing,” Walk to Justice organizer Rachel Thunder told Native News Online.
On September 1, Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice departed from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The march will pass through multiple cities, finally ending in Washington, DC on November 14. Rallies and prayer sessions will be held along the route. The walk is being coordinated by the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council to demand elder Leonard Peltier’s release from federal prison. Leonard Peltier has been unjustly held as a political prisoner by the U.S. government for over 46 years, making him one of the world’s longest incarcerated political prisoners. He is the longest held Native American political prisoner in the world. Peltier was wrongly convicted and framed for a shooting at Oglala on June 26, 1975.
The United States constantly accuses its adversaries of holding political prisoners, while insisting it has none of its own. But for its entire history, the US government has used incarceration of its political opponents as a tool to crush dissent and advance the interests of economic elites. Well-known cases are those entrapped or framed in US national security state sting operations, or imprisoned with extreme sentences for a minor offense because of their political activism, such as Black revolutionary George Jackson. Each period of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples against ruling-class control results in some activists locked up for their revolutionary work. “Political prisoner” has often meant those revolutionaries jailed for fighting their national oppression, as is the case with a great number of Black Panthers.
My name is Leonard Peltier and I am 77 years old. I am a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe. I am Anishanaabe and Dakota. I was taken to Wahpeton Indian School, an Indian boarding school, in Wahpeton, North Dakota when I was nine years old and did not leave until I was 12. This is my story. When I lost my grandfather in 1952, life changed forever. He was a good and kind man and he was my mentor and knew how to live off the land. But then he got pneumonia and did not survive. I will never forget watching him die from the foot of his bed. Even now, that sad memory comes back to me as I lay in my bunk at night in a federal penitentiary. About a year after my grandpa died, my grandma had to go to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to beg for help for her and me, my sister Betty Ann and cousin Pauline.
Jericho Movement Boston, United American Indians of New England (UAINE), and Boston BDS called for a standout in front of the JFK Federal Building in Boston on Monday, February 7, 2022 at 4:00 pm to call attention to international calls to free Native American prisoner Leonard Peltier, now 77 and ill with COVID-19. Known internationally as the most famous and longest-serving Native American political prisoner in the US, Peltier has been imprisoned since 1976 on charges that he shot two FBI agents on Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. Peltier was framed up for a crime he did not commit. Witnesses perjured themselves at the behest of federal authorities, and the FBI suppressed ballistics evidence that would have exonerated him.
Never mind that he shouldn’t be in a federal prison at all. Leonard Peltier, the Native American rights activist whom the FBI put behind bars decades ago without any evidence that he committed a crime, tells HuffPost that his facility’s prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns and failure to provide at least some inmates with booster shots has left him ― and likely others ― unbearably isolated and preparing for death. “I’m in hell,” Peltier said in a Friday statement, “and there is no way to deal with it but to take it as long as you can.” Peltier, who is 77 and has serious health problems including diabetes and an abdominal aortic aneurysm, said “fear and stress” from the prison’s intense coronavirus lockdowns are taking a toll on everyone, including staff.
Minneapolis, Minnesota - The American Indian Movement’s Grand Governing Council (AIMGGC) announced on Tuesday that it’s organizing a freedom walk for Leonard Peltier later this year, from September 1 through November 14, 2022. “Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice” will start in Minneapolis and end in Washington, D.C., where organizers plan to meet with government officials to demand the release of Peltier from the U.S. federal prison system. “The vision and prayer for this walk—Leonard Peltier’s Walk to Justice—began almost two years ago through dreams,” said American Indian Movement of Indiana and Kentucky Chapter Director Rachel Thunder to Native News Online. “We, AIMGGC, knew we had to move in a big way to see Elder Leonard Peltier released.”
Too few have heard of Leonard Peltier, an American Indian Movement activist who has been imprisoned for 44 years based on accusations that were never proven and a trial that was appallingly mishandled. Based on his mere presence in South Dakota’s 1975 Pine Ridge Reservation shoot-out, where one Native American activist and two FBI agents were killed, Peltier has spent the better part of his life behind bars. As the website FreeLeonard.org points out, this gross miscarriage of justice has been condemned by everyone from by Amnesty International and the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Rev. Jesse Jackson, among many others who consider him America’s longest serving political prisoner.
We write to request the expedited release of American Indian elder Leonard Peltier, who is 77 years old and who has served more than 44 years in federal prison, some in solitary confinement, in numerous prisons across the United States. He suffers from severe health conditions, such as diabetes and an abdominal aortic aneurysm that can be lethal if ruptured. The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic authorizing the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to release elderly inmates and those with underlying health conditions from federal prisons. Mr. Peltier is currently imprisoned at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida. Given his underlying health conditions and age, we ask he be granted clemency and immediate action be taken to release him from federal custody.
The year of 2019 is coming to a close and with it, comes the day most Americans set aside as a day for Thanksgiving. As I let my mind wander beyond the steel bars and concrete walls, I try to imagine what the people who live outside the prison gates are doing, and what they are thinking. Do they ever think of the Indigenous people who were forced from their homelands? Do they understand that with every step they take, no matter the direction, that they are walking on stolen land?
I am overwhelmed that February 6th is the start of my 43rd year in prison. I have had such high hopes over the years that I might be getting out and returning to my family in North Dakota. And yet here I am in 2018 still struggling for my FREEDOM at 73. I don’t want to sound ungrateful to all my supporters who have stood by me through all these years. I dearly love and respect you and thank you for the love & respect you have given me. But the truth is I am tired and often my ailments cause me pain with little relief for days at a time. I just had heart surgery and I have other medical issues that need to be addressed: my aortic aneurysm, that could burst at any time, my prostate and arthritis in my hip and knees. I do not think I have another ten years, and what I do have I would like to spend with my family.
By Kari Ann Boushee for International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee - Last month, a letter in support of clemency for federal prisoner Leonard Peltier was sent to President Obama by former United States Attorney James H. Reynolds. Supporters believe that Native American activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 for the deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Imprisoned for over 41 years, Peltier has the support of Amnesty International and other human rights organizations. Over 50 Members of Congress and others—including Judge Gerald Heaney (8th Circuit Court of Appeals) who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals—have all called for his immediate release.
By Leonard Peltier for CounterPunch. Here we are again. This time the year is 2016. It has been more than 41 years since I last walked free and was able to see the sun rise and sit and feel the earth beneath my feet. I know there have been more changes then I can even imagine out there. But I do know that there is a struggle taking place as to whether this country will move on to a more sustainable way of life. This is something we wanted to have happen back in the seventies. I watch the events at Standing Rock with both pride and sorrow. Pride that our people and their allies are standing up and putting their lives on the line for the coming generations, not because they want to but because they have to. They are right to stand up in a peaceful way. It is the greatest gathering of our people in history and has made us more connected than ever before.