Kevin Sharp, a former federal judge who serves as the attorney for Leonard Peltier, got word that his famous client tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday evening.

“I received an email on Friday at 7:50 p.m.-EST that Leonard tested positive for COVID-19,” Sharp said to Native News Online on Saturday evening.

Because it is the weekend, Sharp says Peltier’s case manager and counselor have not been part of the overall assessment of the extent of Peltier’s COVID-19 case.

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According to Sharp, members of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC), became aware that Peltier was not feeling well on Friday.

Leonard Peltier (Photo/Courtesy)

Peltier had cold or flu-like symptoms on Friday and then decided to ask to be tested for COVID-19.

Sharp was told on Saturday from an employee at the United States Penitentiary at Coleman, Fla. (USP Coleman 1) where Peltier is incarcerated that he is in quarantine at the housing unit’s medical unit and is under scheduled observation. Peltier’s medical statistics are being monitored.

Leonard Peltier, 77, (Turtle Mountain of Chippewa) has been incarcerated for 46 years for the killing of two FBI agents at Oglala on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975.

The International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee on late Saturday afternoon distributed a news release says the federal prison has acted recklessly when it comes to Peltier’s care during the COVID-19 pandemic and has contributed to him contracting the deadly virus.

A portion of the news release reads:

“Peltier is a 77-year-old inmate with a host of co-morbidities that should, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC Guidelines), have prioritized him for a COVID booster shot. CDC guidelines call for booster shots at seven months, yet 11 months after Peltier received his COVID 19 vaccine, he had not received a booster shot.

Visitors to USP Coleman 1 have noted the facility is not mandating vaccines for its guards or staff. Guards and staff were seen both without masks and improperly wearing masks, social distancing was neither encouraged nor enforced and booster shots had not, until recently, been available to any inmate at USP Coleman 1. Both the ILPDC and mutual aid organizations offered to donate N-95 masks for every inmate at Coleman were denied.”

"Now due to the reckless disregard of the United States Bureau of Prisons in failing to follow CDC Guidelines for Correctional and Detention Facilities (Correctional and Detention Facilities | CDC) has caused Mr. Peltier to face a virus that could end his life." the news release continues.

Sharp expects to get a better update on Monday after the full staff returns.

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Levi Rickert
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Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected]