Leonard Peltier & Lenny Foster at U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida in January 2014.
COLEMAN, FLORIDA – Leonard Peltier turned 70 years old yesterday, September 12, 2014.
Peltier spent his birthday in prison at the U.S. Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida where he is incarcerated for his 1977 conviction in connection with a shootout with U.S. government forces, where two FBI agents and one young American Indian lost their lives.
Peltier released the following statement from prison yesterday:
Greetings my Friends, Relatives and Supporters
I want to send you all this personal message on what is now my 70th Birthday. I really want to thank you all for your years and years of support and love, I would have never made it this long without your love and support. As you can imagine, it has been a VERY long path. At times, more difficult than I could have ever imagined. I don’t regret any of it for one minute.
It has been my honor to stand up for my Native brothers and sisters and all good peoples of the world. I am very proud to have fought what we call “the good fight” for our future generations. For me, there is no other way. Unfortunately, we have not won the struggle for freedom and today we live in an even stronger police state.
I would like to share with you what our recent fundraiser was all about so that you hear it from me personally.
Over the years, many of my lawyer’s have worked pro bono. Of course I appreciated this time they gave to me for free, and was very grateful they were trying to help me.
A harsh reality is that when someone works pro bono, they often cannot put enough of their time into a case. Much like everyone else, attorneys have to take paying clients to make a living.
I asked my team to help me raise the funds to hire the best legal team we could get. I want/need people with seasoned wisdom and who have the skills to help me with what is a very unique situation, I am singled out, and my road to freedom has been paved with potholes and roadblocks since day one to now, almost 40 years later. Anyone who has looked at my case knows it is outrageous to an absurd degree; often people simply cannot believe the sheer amount of constitutional violations and injustice. People sometimes just honestly cannot believe these things happen. They do. 39 years of my life are the living (so far) proof of that. I am physical evidence.
Speaking of 40 years, you know the last time I was out in the living world, it was the early 70’s and man, from what I hear, so much has changed. I have no idea what things are like and how much things cost. For example, I had NO idea what attorneys get per hour these days. I hear a loaf of bread is sometimes 5 or 7 bucks? That’s a lot of bread! That cars cost as much as some houses?
I am 70 years old today. Everything on the outside has changed; inside here, much has remained the same, including my desire to go home.
Leonard Peltier has been in prison for nearly 40 years
Anyhow, I suppose now that I am a 70 year old dude that I am rambling on a bit. I always knew the majority of my support comes from grass-roots, salt-of-the-earth people, my people. I have never really had huge donations- YES, some wonderful and important people have been in my corner for many years, but also, as I have been in here so long, a lot of them have died. I have lost many of my friends and family. I also know there are many causes, & celebrities get asked for money every day.
My team organized a fundraiser to try and raise fees to hire the new legal team. To be honest, I was hoping the grassroots peoples would come to my rescue again as our new website has been drawing supporters in to volunteer and help out. We knew if just a small percentage of them responded with small donations we would be able to raise the retainer(s) required.
I knew as soon as the current fundraiser went into its second and third week that it was not going to be as successful as we hoped. I have heard how difficult it is to live on salaries these days, and those on minimum wage are in poverty and some are even homeless. We also had to face the fact that even if we raised the retainer (s) there would still be significant monthly costs. I was just not ready to quit, I have not served all this time just to end up staying in here because we don’t have enough money. We had to put our heads together and I am very fortunate to be able to tell you that we were able to raise enough to get started and all the attorneys that I wanted to have on my team have agreed to adjust their fees and roles in order to help me go after my freedom. I cannot go into detail about the team or strategy at this time as these things, like most legal proceedings, are confidential, but everything should be final shortly and hopefully we can go forward with trying to get me out of here.
I am so thankful to those who were willing and able to help, and also thankful to those who help in other ways besides money. The time you offer educating others about my situation, and standing up for me and all Native/Indigenous people, is and will always be held close to my heart, and I have a lot of time in here to spend in gratitude for all of you.
I will need your continued support in whatever way you can help, in what appears to be my final walk toward freedom. My team will keep you updated on what is happening and how you can help, but I want to personally assure you that I have very high standards of conduct for those who work on my team, and those standards are being upheld. I do not allow misconduct from anyone; I have spent too many years paying flesh rent to let someone use me or use our struggle. My “ cause” is also my people’s cause, it is YOUR cause, and I am not the only one who has paid a dear price attempting to uphold justice, fairness, and truth. I have a responsibility to those before and after me.
I will again encourage you to work with my team through the official websites etc, as I hear there are others out there misrepresenting themselves in my name and even saying they are part of my family, collecting money or otherwise going against my wishes.
I can only say, sitting here in this place, this hell, that I hope my years in here have not been in vain. I want my time to stand as an example to you all, that you might find a way to serve in some way, that you might find a way to do some time of your own, for a brother, sister, our children, or our very Earth. Find something to stand up for, do something, help someone. Do not accept injustice. Do not accept intolerance. Do not accept the damage being done to our planet in the name of greed and more material goods. It is up to us to hold ourselves and others to a high standard. My true wish for my birthday is that you take something…. from me.
Take the years I have given in here and be inspired to make the changes that you know need to be made, before it is too late. Take the time I have sacrificed in here and use it to shape the future for our children.
I truly hope to see you soon, to taste some cake or even just take a walk in the woods. I have so many hugs to give, so many people to thank.
I miss you.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse