Dozens gather to urge activist Peltier's release after 31 years
Associated Press Published Saturday, November 29, 2008
FARGO — Dozens of Leonard Peltier’s supporters gathered Friday in front of the federal courthouse in Fargo, where he was convicted more than 30 years ago in the execution-style killings of two federal agents.
Carrying signs that read, “Don’t let Leonard die in prison” and “Peltier is innocent, FBI is guilty,” the group heard from Peltier’s sister, Betty Ann Peltier-Solano, who read a letter from her brother.
American Indian activist and actor Russell Means spoke at the rally, saying Peltier was wrongly convicted. Means urged the public to pressure federal officials to free Peltier when he becomes eligible for release early next year.
Means said he spoke to Peltier recently by phone. “You can tell how lonesome he is,” Means said. “He didn’t want to get off the phone. It teared me up.”
Peltier, 64, formerly of Grand Forks,is serving two life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents during a 1975 standoff near Oglala, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler were shot in the head at point-blank range.
Peltier has claimed the FBI framed him, which the agency denies. His supporters have said he was treated unfairly because of his political activism. Peltier has filed numerous appeals since he was convicted by a jury in Fargo in 1977.
Peltier has been shifted among several federal prisons in recent years, including Leavenworth, Kan., Terre Haute, Ind., and Lewisburg, Pa., where he now is held. His relatives said he has health problems including diabetes, arthritis and the loss of vision in one eye after suffering a minor stroke.
A couple of good books to read:
In The Spirit Of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen
Prison Writings by Leonard Peltier
Words to the 8th Court of Appeals, after that court refused to grant a new trial despite mountains of new evidence:
“I spoke out for many years against the injustices Native People suffer before they sent me into prison for speaking out and organizing against the Human Rights violations of our Mother Earth. I have not stopped speaking out just because my body has been locked away…. This vocal opposition and my organizing work are the real reason they have put me in prison.
I firmly believe the FBI and the US prosecutors who have worked on this case know I am not guilty of aiding and abetting murder. I have never advocated violence. I have never used violence.
And I never will.”