Early this morning, a post appeared on the social media network, Facebook, that Leonard Peltier was being granted a presidential pardon. I immediately checked the official website. Nothingh. I googled and still found nothing. I searched Facebook and found a youtube post where Dennis Banks announced (about 1 minute into the video) that some former secretary of state revealed to him there were five names on the list for consideration of a presidential pardon, and Peltiers name is on it!
It is great news to have some forward movement in his case, especially with his health problems and age the life sentences are essentially a death sentence. And the feds (FBI agents) retired or otherwise have said repeatedly that Leonard will never walk out of prison, I've always perceived this as a veiled threat on Leonard life.
Currently, we are waiting on some form of corroboration of this development since the family has not been notified by the attorneys or Leonard. I was communicating with some of his relatives when the post came out initially say Obama had granted a pardon. They didn't know anything about it.
I want to be clear on this point, I am not speaking or writing on behalf of Leonard or the LPDOC. I hold no official capacity, I only want to share my thoughts and experiences as a former National Spokesperson, board member and support group coordinator that right now is the time to marshal your forces. We must a expect a fight from those agents who have constantly attempted to undermine the work of Peltier, his committee and the supporters. I haven't heard of the Trimbachs, Woods or any other person of their ilk, but they'll come crawling out hoping to gain some attention and credibility to their distorted facts.
This is a good time to refresh your memory about his case at the official Peltier website, the international support he has had so that you can correct their misrepresentation of the facts. Keep pushing the petitions, hold meetings and show the documentaries that are available, and get other social justice organizations involved.
The last time Leonard was being considered for a pardon, the agents rose up in an uproar when Amy Goodman took a call on her show "Democracy Now" from then president Bill Clinton who was stumping for Al Gore. Ms. Goodman seize the opportunity to ask Clinton about Peltier. Clinton replied to the effect he was aware there was a lot of attention to this case and he would give it a look-see like anyone else." No commitment one way or the other, but the agents rallied to the White House, and while I am not privy to all the details, representatives from both sides met in the White House. When the commutations came as Clinton's last act in office. He apparently pardon a relative, but he left Peltiers application unsigned on his desk. When Bush took office, someone realized there was an unsigned pardon application there so a campaign was mounted to get Bush to sign off. He quickly denied it. That application took quite a few years to get to the president's desk.
The current pardon application began a few years ago and was intentionally kept quiet as I have been understood. There is a school of thought that the government despises being made to look as if they capitulated on the demands of the people. Yes, it sounds ludicrous, but I see the truth in it. Now that the application is apparently on Obama's desk, the agents will know and as soon as I can find that list in whitehouse.gov we'll know it for a fact.
In November 1999, we held a month long rally in DC, and we "forced" a meeting with a representative from the Justice Department when Janet Reno (former US Attorney General), it was such a condescending meeting, but afterwards on the sidewalk of the Justice Department I was compelled to say something that I normally would say or ask of others. I was asked to speak at a press conference outside of Justice and I told everyone that we just had another bullshit meeting with the government. Their representative acted all outraged and indignant that this was happening to this poor old Indian man and that she would bring it to Reno's attention in 7 minutes, then she would hear from someone else and continue to tell us she'll tell Reno in x number of minutes. I explained that this woman, who is Native, knows about Peltier's case, but her role was just to appease us as if we actually accomplished something. I said that if you want to see Leonard free before Bush takes office then everyone will have to make real sacrifices. By that I mean I don't care if you have to give up your job, your home and your relationship! Leonard has already given up half of his life and is counting on us to bring him out. Once he is out we can rebuild our own lives!
After I concluded, I wondered where those words came from. I wouldn't ask anyone to do something that I wouldn't do and then it hit me. This is what I had to do, and I did it. I went back to Oklahoma to no job, and a partner who wanted to file for divorce. When I rolled out of Oklahoma that night, all I could carry from my life was in a mini-van. She had hidden my family pictures, paintings and crafts given to me by prison inmates, and the human rights award I received. I returned to DC and gave it my best with raising awareness and building support, but the feds got to Clinton.
I shared this personal story with you to help you understand what it means to make a commitment and to know that I wouldn't ask you to do something I wouldn't do or that I have already done. Regardless of if Leonards name is or is not on presidents list for commutation and pardons. I'm going to ask you to make a commitment for at least the next seven months until the Christmas commutations is released. If his name is not there, then keep the pressure up before Obama leaves. We'll know then who will be in the White House and the committee will plot a course of action.
If you can make this commitment, then I will ask you to begin by contacting the LPDOC and submitting an application to begin a support group. The support groups is Leonards feet on the ground staging events and activities to increase awareness about his case. If there were active support groups in each community with a college or university it can have a far reaching effect. Sign up and take direction from the LPDOC, coordinate with them, provide updates and run your ideas by them. I know we are in the digital age, use it as a tool to organize and get in the streets or wherever you can have an impact. If you are physically able, get out there and network with other organizations and groups, Leonard needs that solidarity to come to fruition fast, Leonard is running out of time. That is why I ask that each of you make this commitment to bring him home.
The following are some of the events planned or taking place now:
- Chauncey Peltier, Leonards oldest son, is organizing a Freedom Ride and he'll need support for this cross-country motorcycle ride, contact him and see how you can help.
- Footprints for Peace just began a Ride for Freedom from the prison where Leonard is held captive, Coleman, FL to Washington, DC. They are doing what they can to raise awareness and if you check their website give them some support.
- There is also a "Horse Riders for Justice" that will take place in Philadelphia, PA on July 26. Their point of contact is their Facebook page, Anonymous Indigenous Movement.
There may be other events, if so, let me know and I'll update them here.