Who is Leonard Peltier?
Leonard Peltier is an activist, artist, humanitarian, and writer. He is most widely known for being a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) for which his involvement has resulted in him serving nearly 40 years in prison for the killing of two FBI agents that he did not commit. For people who do not know much about Peltier’s case and particularly young people he wishes to be known as, “somebody that stood up for his people’s rights and who tried to stop the Termination Act and all the other crimes committed against my people.” Peltier is widely supported by nobel laureates, scholars, foreign parliaments, civil rights activists, artists, celebrities, Native American and tribal leaders, unions and other individuals or organizations.
What happened at Oglala?
Leonard Peltier’s case has been shrouded in controversy since his imprisonment in 1977. He was wrongfully convicted of killing two FBI agents at Oglala on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1975. The FBI raided Oglala where Peltier and several other AIM members were encamped. The agents came onto the land in an aggressive manner causing the organization to believe they were under violent attack. This was a valid claim given the culture of fear that had emerged from the history of the FBI training given to the Guardians of the Oglala Nation, a death squad, that carried out the assassinations of Indigenous activists in Pine Ridge. Over 64 people had been killed and hundreds more injured. During the raid two FBI agents were shot and killed. Peltier was convicted after allegations were brought to light following the failed conviction of two other American Indian Movement members for the same crime. The case and following conviction was an attempt to silence the American Indian Movement and made Peltier a political prisoner of the United States Government.
Why are students demanding clemency for Leonard Peltier?
We uphold that Leonard Peltier is innocent and has been unjustly incarcerated as punishment for the deaths of the two FBI agents at Oglala. The FBI falsified evidence against Peltier in order to imprison him and keep him imprisoned. The FBI has publicly admitted to holding Peltier in prison despite his innocence. Peltier has never received a fair trial, and all other legal options have been exhausted. Now, the only option is to demand clemency.
Obama has the authority to grant executive clemency. This is the power of a President in federal criminal cases to, in Leonard Peltier’s case, commute the sentence of a person convicted of a crime.
Peltier is now a 71 year old elderly man living in a prison. He has a bad prostate, diabetes, high blood pressure, and has suffered a mild heart attack and stroke. Under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. constitution Peltier should be protected against ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ however he has been denied adequate health care and his health continues to deteriorate. Peltier has faced many violations to his constitutional rights throughout his case. In normal circumstances, a single violation is enough to set someone free. We wish to see Peltier live out the rest of his life in freedom with his loved ones and with access to adequate healthcare.
Join us as we take action on February 27, 2016, to demand that Obama grant executive clemency to Leonard Peltier. Click on the any of the tabs at the top of the screen to find out more about how to get involved.
For more information about Leonard Peltier and his case please visit his official support page by clicking here