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about Leonard's case, visit:

To read a June 26, 2000 letter from Leonard, visit www.lpsg-co.org

The American Indian Movement


Free Leonard Peltier!


"If in these United States, our Indian people cannot through vision and courage and unity and compassion prevail, what hope any place on earth is there for indigenous people?...

"And if we fail, who would want to be a part of what's left? Because it would be a genocidal society that had succeeded in its genocide, in the extermination of not just a peoples, but of right and decency and justice"

— Ramsey Clark, Former U.S. Attorney General


"American Indians share a history rich in diversity, integrity, culture and tradition. It is also rich in tragedy, deceit and genocide. As the world learns of these atrocities and cries out for justice for ALL people everywhere, no human being should ever have to fear for his or her life because of their political or religious beliefs."

— Leonard Peltier


Leonard Peltier
On June 26, 1975 two FBI agents allegedly searching for a young Indian accused of stealing a pair of used cowboy boots spotted several men enter a red pick-up truck. They followed the truck briefly. The occupants of the truck pulled over. Shots were fired though no one knows who fired first. Soon the situation exploded into a firefight involving 30 or so Indian men, women, and children and over 150 FBI agents, BIA (Bureau of Internal Affairs) police, US Marshals and the local police known as GOONs (Guardians Of the Oglala Nation). Two agents and a young Indian activist died.

"Within hours of the shootout, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights which labeled it "a full scale vendetta", hundreds of paramilitary equipped, combat-clad FBI agents and US Marshals staged a dragnet through the reservation in a fever of revenge in which men, women, and children were terrified and properties and homes were ransacked. There was no investigation into the death of the Native American." [From the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website.]

Leonard Peltier is an American Indian, Chippewa/Lakota to be exact. He was one of the leaders of AIM, the American Indian Movement, present during the June 26th shootout. Despite the lack of evidence linking him to the fatal shots, murder charges were brought against him.

February 6th, 2000 marked Leonard's twenty-fourth year in prison - the 24th year of two life sentences he was given for supposedly being responsible for the deaths of the two federal agents. His case has been controversial and opposed by many people during those 24 years.

Among the reasons for this opposition are, according to the Former U.S. Attorney General:

  • "You have to remember no witness really said they saw Leonard take aim at anybody. No witness said they heard him shoot at the time he could have killed an agent. There was no evidence that he did it, except fabricated, circumstantial evidence, overwhelmingly misused, concealed and perverted."
  • "The FBI laboratory, is the subject of a whole series of reports that condemn it for fabricating evidence, for falsifying evidence, for incompetence in evaluation of evidence."
  • "They covered up lab reports that said they could not connect the one bullet...with the gun they were trying to place in Leonard Peltier's hands."

And in 1993, Lynn Crooks, the main prosecutor in the case against Leonard admitted, "We do not know who shot the two agents... We did not prove who did it."

What IS known is that in only a couple years, more than 40 Indian peoples on the Lakota reservation have died violent deaths, overwhelmingly from activity provoked by the federal government. In March of 1975 alone, seven people were killed by violence. Leonard Peltier was part of AIM, the group that brought in 17 members to defend the local population from harassment and violence.

That was over 20 years ago, and the United States still holds Leonard in prison.

International Support for Leonard

Leonard Peltier
According to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, " The International campaign is an important element in the movement to free Leonard Peltier and as the Peltier case gains notoriety, the International campaign continues to grow… In April of 1999, the former first lady of France and the president of France Libertes, Danielle Mitterrand came to the U.S. on a fact-finding mission on the behalf of Leonard Peltier. She visited Leonard Peltier in prison and met with government officials on his behalf as well.

"During the same month, Archbishop Desmond Tutu made a public statement on behalf of Leonard Peltier and referred to his case as a 'blot on the judicial system of this country that ought to be corrected as quickly as possible.' "

Additionally, the Dalai Lama renewed his call for Leonard's release in a March 4, 2000 letter, which asks for him to be 'immediately and unconditionally released.' "

Although Leonard has been eligible for release since 1991 but the US Parole Commission continues to deny him parole. He was most recently denied parole on June 12, 2000. At this point, his only hope for freedom is a pardon by President Clinton. And the only hope for that is for President Clinton to be overwhelmed by public sentiment in support of Leonard.

How You Can Help

"For the good of indigenous people everywhere, and all those who depend on them, which is everybody else, it is imperative that we, you and I, secure the freedom of Leonard Peltier."

— Ramsey Clark

There is an urgent phone campain going on RIGHT NOW. The following is directly from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee website.

KEEP IT UP THROUGH JANUARY 21, 2001!!!! Our very best window for getting clemency for Leonard Peltier lies between election day in November, and Inauguration Day on January 21. The Democratic party will have carried out its campaign, and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore will have either won their offices or not. Either way, Mr. Clinton will not have so many reasons to avoid controversial issues. After that, we will have a long wait. Even if Gore wins, it will take him some time to learn all the facts and gain the political confidence to deal with this case&ldots;.probably sometime in his second term. Leonard cannot wait this long. His medical condition puts him at risk for kidney failure, blindness and stroke. Time is running out.

We need daily calls to the White House from as many people as possible. Please focus ALL your calls there. The telephone number is 202-456-1111. We will let you know if we need additional calls to Janet Reno or to members of Congress. But for now, please ALL CALLS GO TO CLINTON!!! Try to begin organizing networks of friends for the calls, and assure that during the most critical time of all, CHRISTMAS WEEK, that the calls keep rolling in to the White House. We know we are asking a lot, but if Leonard at last goes free, we will all be able to rest at last&ldots;.after one big celebration of course. At the very least, please call once a week on your regional call-in day: The northeast people call on Mondays. The southeast calls on Tuesdays, the mid-west and International calls on Wednesday, the northwest calls on Thursday and the southwest calls on Friday. MESSAGE :

1. We demand clemency for Mr. Leonard Peltier, a Native American citizen who has now been imprisoned for nearly twenty five years. His immediate release has also been demanded by Amnesty International, Coretta Scott King, the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the American Friends Service Committee, Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, the National Council of Churches, and many others.

2. Mr. Peltier never received a fair trial of any kind. The witnesses have all admitted they were heavily coerced and intimidated by the FBI, and a ballistics test proving the bullet in question did not come from Mr. Peltier's weapon was concealed from the defense attorneys. The judge who denied him a new trial has written to support clemency for Mr. Peltier.

3. Mr. Peltier is long overdue for parole, and it is clear he will not be released until he confesses to a crime he did not commit.

4. Mr. Peltier has achieved a remarkable record of humanitarian achievements during his many years behind bars. Among other things, he sponsors and annual Chirstmas drive for toys and clothing for the children of Pine Ridge, he contributes his art to assist battered women's shelters and substance abuse programs, he has established a Native American scholarship program, collaborated in improving health care on the reservation, and adopted children in Guatemala and El Salvador through Childreach, amongst many other good deeds. His also received a human rights award from the Commission on Human Rights from Spain.

5. Mr. Peltier is now in deteriorating health. He suffers from a heart condition, high blood pressure and diabetes. He is blind in one eye due to poor medical care. He risks, in the future, blindness, stroke and kidney failure given the poor prison medical care and living conditions. TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR JUSTICE.

6. Mr. Peltier is a living symbol of U.S. repression against its Native citizenry. We must remember that 64 AIM supporters were murdered on Pine Ridge during that tragic period, and that the FBI was closely collaborating with the GOONs carrying out the violence. The time has come to heal some of these old wounds. The time has come for the United States to show that it is worth to claim the position of leadership in world human rights affairs.


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