Have you heard of Nelson Mandela? How about Leonard Peltier? Because every american ought to know who he is, a native political prisoner.
In 1973, the Lakota-Sioux Indian reservation had the highest per-capita murder rate in the nation. Dick Wilson, the chief of tribal police, and his GOON squad, the Guardians of the Oglala Nation, murdered over 70 democracy activists. Traditional Oglala women asked for the aid of members of the American Indian Movement, activists fighting for indigenous sovereignty. A cadre of men and women set up camp at Jumping Bull Ranch in response. In what politically engaged actor and writer, Peter Coyote, described as a “climate of murder and intimidation“, an unmarked FBI vehicle approached the camp. Two guys hopped out of the unmarked car with long guns in hand.
The feds were apparently searching for Jimmy Eagle, a young AIM activist, who after a physical altercation, stole a pair of cowboy boots. Far from a federal offense, one must consider the other reasons why an FBI vehicle might arrive at that site that day as they did. Here’s a potential reason: a distraction from Dick Wilson illegally signing away Uranium mining rights of the tribe in Washington. Cowboy boots was no reason for the FBI to pull into an armed camp in the manner that they did. They were obviously trying to spring a trap.
While there were fifty tribal police on the edge of Jumping Bull ranch, when the gunfight started, they fled. Leaving the FBI members surrounded, wounded, and ultimately executed. AIM didn’t know they were feds until the deed was done. Terrified AIM leaders fled, and all hell broke loose on the reservation. Quoting Peter Coyote once more:
“the reservation was taken over by government forces. They fired 100,000 rounds of ammunition. They stripped Native elders naked. They broke down houses.”
Because sovereignty isn’t real if you make the United States government angry. AIM members, Bob Robideau and Darrell Butler were arrested for the deaths of the two feds, but they were acquited by a white jury. In line with the all-american tradition of scapegoating innocent people so that the feds can feel more competent, the turned their focus towards Leonard Peltier.
They maliciously stitched together fabricated evidence against him.
- They tied a fifteen year old boy to a chair, coerced, and threatened him until he gave a testimony against Peltier, which he later recanted. Two other witnesses later recanted due to the same cause.
- They told the jury they had been looking for a red and white van, which peltier had been seen driving, when in reality that they they had been looking for a red pickup truck.
- The jury was not allowed to hear about other cases in which the FBI had tampered with evidence and witnesses.
- A definitive ballistics report was not done at the time, due to the gun being allegedly damaged. So the superficial FBI report said the ballistics from the bodies matched Peltier’s gun. Years later, it was proven that not only was a definitive report possible, but it proved that there was no match. This evidence was surpressed.
- The prosecutor explicitely said in closing “We proved that he went down to the bodies and executed those two young men at point blank range.” when in reality, they later admited that they had no clue who killed the agents. at the appellate hearing, the government attorney conceded, “We had a murder. We had numerous shooters. We do not know who specifically fired what killing shots…We do not know who shot the agents.”.
- Peltier, who was in Canada, was extradited based on a false affadavit signed my Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed to have dating Peltier and to have witnessed the murders. She later admitted the FBI pressured her into giving false statements. Canada is still suing the United States for the false affadavit.
So, now that we know that the FBI got grumpy and lied on numerous occasions to put Peltier away, hasn’t he been released? No. He’s been imprisoned since 1977, serving two life sentences. He’s suffered a severe beating and the distress of living every day in a cage, since 1977. The Pennsylvannia Parole Commission denied Peltier parole in 1993, saying that he “participated in the premeditated and cold blooded execution of those two officers.” Though they have since stated that they “recognize… that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.”
Why is this happening? The perjury and deceipt that occured in the process of incarcerating Peltier is not radical propaganda. It’s in the books. It’s academia. When the US government said that they had no idea who killed the agents, Peltier should have been released that day. It is known that he was framed, but he still lives every day of his life in a cage. Why? Because William Webster, head of the FBI, has vindictive desire to keep him there. That’s why. Because when you fight the FBI, they’ll put you away. No evidence necessary. That’s why.
The campaign to free Leonard Peltier is ongoing. The campaign is backed by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Bono, Calvin Klein, Michael Moore, Yoko Ono Lennon, Cher, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Sting, Richard Branson, Amnesty International. Learn more at http://www.campaigntofreeleonardpeltier.com/.