Free Leonard in 2014::Challenge to Amerikkkan In-justice System

Bad News Bruce - Posted on 21 January 2014

Leontyne Smith

The POOR magazine' Indigenous News-making Circle/ Community Newsroom was really fierce last week when a man came and talked about the injustice committed against his relative, Leonard Peltier. As a young African-American woman I have been born and bred on corporate media and until i came to POOR's People Skool I hadn't even heard of Leonard Peltier, which, sadly is similar to many of my peers,

Peltier was wrongly imprisoned for over thirty seven years. It was painful to hear about yet another political prisoner, most of whom never get out of prison, and are treated terribly because they speak consciousness and go against injustice done by the government. I was holding back my tears while listening to this DJ/musician talk about his relative who has been locked up for so long and is still fighting for his freedom.

The Feds accused Leonard Peltier of killing two cops on a reservation during a shoot-out. The main thing that struck me was how the press published articles in the paper saying that people on the reservation were not the victims but the swat team was. People have had misinterpretations of what happened because the FBI even paid the press to not include facts of how the feds set him up. Before the shoot out (on Pine Ridge reservation) the cops were dressed down and didn’t want to reveal their identity. During the shoot-out, many children from the Jumping Bull Ranch had to run through fire bullets. Angry agents shot up the Jumping Bull home, leaving bullet riddled family portraits in their wake. The police allegedly said they went onto the reservation because one of the Native Americans stole a pair of cowboy boots! The feds make up the stupidest things as an excuse to kill and harass people. Mass destruction and trauma on indigenous land for shoes?! Members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were camping on the property at the time. They had been invited there by the Jumping Bull elders, seeking protection from the extreme violence on the reservation.

In the days following the shoot-out, FBI agents in SWAT gear and carrying assault rifles also terrorized other Pine Ridge residents through a series of warrantless no-knock assaults on their homes. After the Feds started investigating they had a selective prosecution. They charged Leonard Peltier for the killings of the two cops. There were two other members from the native land present during the shoot-out, but charges against them were dropped. Certain members of AIM bragged about killing the cops in the shootout but again they were never imprisoned. Charges against a fourth man, Jimmy Eagle (a non-AIM member), were later dropped. (Prosecutors admitted during Peltier's trial that Jimmy Eagle had not even been on the reservation on the day of the shoot-out.).

Media manipulation is a tactic used against Leonard Peltier even today. During Peltier's 1993-2001 bid for an award of clemency the FBI again put out false information about him. The FBI media had a plan to tear this man down. At POOR magazine we go straight to the root of the story and talk to the victims and not the monsters from other corporations.

After hearing this story, many of us Po' migrante, houseless and in-struggle folks in the news room at POOR magazine were quiet. We didn’t have anything to say but encouraging words reminding him to keep his head up no matter what. We agreed to tell his side of the story which is the REAL TRUTH. “DJ FreeLeonard” is a website so people can donate whatever they can to help this innocent man be free. Although the corruptness of the system has been discouraging and frustrating, Peltier’s family wants to involve president Obama because no one else will listen to them and believe them. After more than thirty-seven years, Peltier and his relatives are still fighting for justice.


Below is a press release from the Intl Indian Treaty Council



CONTACT: Alyssa Macy

IITC Communications Specialist

c: (414) 748-0220



United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, makes historic visit to American Indian Political Prisoner Leonard Peltier


San Francisco, Jan. 24, 2014:  Today James Anaya, United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, made a historic visit to American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier, Turtle Mountain Ojibway, in the United States (US) Federal Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida.  He was accompanied by Leonard “Lenny" Foster, member of the Board of Directors of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and representative of the National Native American Prisoners Rights Coalition.   


Leonard Peltier was convicted in 1977 for “aiding and abetting” in the deaths of two FBI agents during a fire fight on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975.  Two other defendants were acquitted based on self-defense. Although the US courts as well as Amnesty International have acknowledged government misconduct, including forcing witnesses to lie and hiding ballistics evidence indicating his innocence, Mr. Peltier was denied a new trial on a legal technicality.  The late Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, 55 Members of the US Congress, the National Congress of American Indians, Assembly of First Nations, the US Human Rights Network and many others -- including a judge who sat as a member of the Court in two of Mr. Peltier’s appeals -- have called for his release. 


Lenny Foster confirmed that “the visit today by Special Rapporteur James Anaya to Leonard Peltier in prison is very significant and historic for us and we thank him for working with IITC to make this possible.  This will support efforts for Executive Clemency for Leonard Peltier and promote reconciliation and justice in this case.”     


In April and May 2012, UN Special Rapporteur Anaya carried out an official visit to the US to examine the human rights situation of Indigenous Peoples in this country.  After visiting and hearing testimony from Indigenous Nations, Peoples, organizations and communities around the US he issued a report “The situation of indigenous peoples in the United States of America” [A/HRC/21/47/Add.1].  It was presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012 and contained observations regarding the case of Leonard Peltier:       


“A more recent incident that continues to spark feelings of injustice among indigenous peoples around the United States is the well-known case of Leonard Peltier… After a trial that has been criticized by many as involving numerous due process problems, Mr. Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences for murder, and has been denied parole on various occasions.  Pleas for presidential consideration of clemency by notable individuals and institutions have not borne fruit.  This further depletes the already diminished faith in the criminal justice system felt by many indigenous peoples throughout the country.”


Special Rapporteur Anaya’s recommendations to the US government included the following: 


“Other measures of reconciliation should include efforts to identify and heal particular sources of open wounds. And hence, for example, promised reparations should be provided to the descendants of the Sand Creek massacre, and new or renewed consideration should be given to clemency for Leonard Peltier.”


For more information about the case of Leonard Peltier and the current campaign for Executive Clemency contact the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee: or (505) 301-5423.





The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) is an organization of Indigenous Peoples from North, Central, South America, the Caribbean and the Pacific working for the Sovereignty and Self Determination of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition and protection of Indigenous Rights, Treaties, Traditional Cultures and Sacred Lands. 


El Consejo Internacional de Tratados Indios (CITI) es una organización de Pueblos Indígenas del Sur, Centro y Norteamérica, el Caribe y el Pacífico, que trabaja por la soberanía y la libre determinación de los Pueblos Indígenas, así como el reconocimiento y protección de los derechos indígenas, tratados, culturas tradicionales y tierras sagradas.






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