Leonard Peltier has been in prison for over 42 years
Published January 28, 2018
International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier – February 6, 2018
By Peter Clark
It has now been a little over a year since President Obama denied clemency to Leonard Peltier, a decision that will never be forgotten by the millions of people worldwide who supported his release. Obama’s decision was seen as a death sentence for the ailing Peltier, who had urgent triple bypass surgery in August 2017, has a dangerous abdominal aortic aneurysm and diabetes, and likely needs hip replacement surgery.
We continue the effort to find relief for Leonard Peltier and join the call for groups and individuals to observe International Day of Solidarity with Leonard Peltier, commemorating Peltier’s arrest, 43 years to that date, on February 6, 2018. The entire network of supporters is working to encourage others to pick up the effort. It is encouraging to see that people continue to organize in support of freedom for Peltier, especially after such disappointment in Obama. In 2012, there were over 30 events held worldwide to mark February 6th, and throughout the clemency campaign, some 500,000 petition signatures and over 50,000 postcards were delivered to the Obama White House. (The ILPDC main office, then in Albuquerque, NM, stamped and mailed off approx. 10,000 of those completed postcards.) Together, we must reach and surpass that level of participation once again, to ensure that Leonard does not die in prison.
Leonard Peltier has spent over 42 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and for which his co-defendants were acquitted by reason of self-defense. Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against Peltier (including the so-called “murder weapon”), hid proof of his innocence, presented false testimony obtained through torturous interrogation techniques, ignored court orders, and lied to the jury.
To this day, the FBI refuses to produce over 70,000 documents related to the Peltier case. These documents are over 25 years old and are therefore considered historically significant. More importantly, they may contain information that would exonerate Leonard Peltier.
Media manipulation is a tried and true tactic used by the FBI against Leonard Peltier. Government documents show that, in 1993, the FBI developed a media plan by which to interfere with an executive order of clemency by the then President Bill Clinton. Then and since, the FBI has engaged in a systematic and officially-sanctioned campaign of misinformation and disinformation designed to prevent Peltier from receiving a fair hearing on his claims, both for clemency before the President of the United States and for parole before the U.S. Parole Commission. The FBI has done so in direct contravention of statutory and regulatory requirements designed to preserve the impartiality of the FBI and to preserve the due process rights of Leonard Peltier.
There is no doubt that the FBI’s most recent vehement and active campaign against Peltier’s 2016 clemency petition was a major factor in President Obama’s decision to condemn him to life in prison. There is much to be learned about the process and discussions among the Department of Justice, FBI and White House that lead to the denial of Peltier’s petition. Why, in the face of overwhelming worldwide support, too lengthy to list here, did President Obama reach this tragic decision? Unfortunately, unless a courageous champion who participated in that flawed process comes forward, the content of those discussions will remain unknown and are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
Please join these events and plan your own:
In early November 2017, the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee released a call for supporters to:
Write a letter to Warden Roy Cheatam- USP Coleman 1 P.O. Box 1023 Coleman FL. 33521, asking him why Leonard has not been transferred to a Federal Facility closer to his home, despite the fact that he suffers from an abdominal aortic aneurysm, battles diabetes, and has a deteriorating hip that has been causing him much pain over the last two years.
Peter Clark was a director at International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, Albuquerque, N.M., from May 2015 through January 2017. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.