Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Peltier denied parole; supporters vow to keep trying: Written by JoKAY DOWELL Native American Times


Peltier denied parole; supporters vow to keep trying PDF Print E-mail
Written by JoKAY DOWELL Native American Times   

Peltier's attorney, Eric Seitz, said the parole board did not even have the courtesy of notifying him.

BISMARK, N.D. – In spite of an exemplary record during more than 33 years of incarceration for an offense he has repeatedly denied committing, Chippewa American Indian activist Leonard Peltier has again been denied parole in a closed hearing by the United States Parole Commission, U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley announced Friday.

 Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier is exactly where he belongs, in federal prison, serving two life sentences," Wrigley said in an AP report.

Peltier, 64, was convicted in 1977 for the killings of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota during a shootout with American Indian Movement members.

Many have called for an investigation into Peltier's trial and conviction. Several lawsuits have been filed on his behalf without success.

Peltier's attorney, Eric Seitz, said the parole board did not even have the courtesy of notifying him, saying that, "Bush Administration holdovers on the U.S. Parole Commission adopted the position of the FBI that anyone who may be implicated in the killings of its agents should never be paroled and should be left to die in prison."

In a statement received by NAT, Seitz said the parole commission informed Peltier that his release on parole would depreciate the seriousness of his offenses and would promote disrespect for the law.

But Seitz responded with outrage that the parole board would continue to keep Peltier in prison, "despite judicial determinations that the unrepentant FBI fabricated evidence and presented perjured testimony in Leonard Peltier's prosecution; despite a jury's acquittal on grounds of self-defense of two co-defendants who were found to have engaged in the same conduct of which Mr. Peltier was convicted; despite Mr. Peltier's exemplary record during his incarceration for more than 33 years and his clearly demonstrated eligibility for parole; despite letters and petitions calling for his release submitted by millions of people in this country and around the world including one of the judges who ruled on his earlier appeals; and despite his advanced age and deteriorating health."

Seitz said at his parole hearing in July, Peltier expressed regret and accepted responsibility for his role in the incident in which the two FBI agents and one Native American activist died.

"Mr. Peltier emphasized that the shootout occurred in circumstances where there literally was a war going on between corrupt tribal leaders supported by the government on the one hand, and Native American traditionalists and young activists on the other. He again denied, as he as always denied, that he intended the deaths of anyone or that he fired the fatal shots that killed the two agents, and he reminded the hearing officer that one of his former co-defendants recently admitted to having fired the fatal shots. Accordingly, it is not true that Leonard Peltier participated in 'the execution style murders of two FBI agents,' as the parole commission asserts and there never has been credible evidence of Mr. Peltier's responsibility for the fatal shots, as the FBI continues to allege. Moreover, given the corrupt practices of the FBI, it is entirely untrue that Leonard Peltier's parole at this juncture will in any way 'depreciate the seriousness' of his conduct and/or 'promote disrespect for the law.' We will continue to seek parole and clemency for Mr. Peltier and to eventually bring this prolonged injustice to a prompt and fair resolution."

Along with Seitz, supporters disagree with Wrigley's statement and vow to remain vigilant in their work for his release.

"While Leonard Peltier remains in jail Arthur H. Bremer shot presidential candidate George Wallace during a campaign stop in Maryland. Bremer recently left prison after serving 35 years," Ben Carnes, a Peltier spokesperson said. "Hinkley, the man who tried to kill President Reagan is now allowed to visit his mother more, get a driver's license and spend more time away from the mental hospital where he lives. Lynnette 'Squeaky' Fromme, a Charles Manson family member who pointed a gun at President Ford was released this month after serving 33 years."

Carnes expressed his outrage further saying, "When presidential assassins can walk free while an innocent man remains imprisoned, is an injustice to the conscience of all people."

In a previous NAT story Peltier's National Spokesperson Wanbli described the events leading to the shootout between the two agents and American Indian Movement members at the Jumping Bull family compound on Pine Ridge, June 26, 1975.

"On June 26, 1975, two FBI agents . . . invaded, basically, the Jumping Bull ranch. A gunfight ensued and at the end of the gunfight, two federal agents were dead and an Indian man, Joe Stuntz, was dead," he said.

Peltier fled to Canada and fought extradition, causing him to arrive back in the U.S. too late to be tried with Bob Robideaux and Dino Butler who were both found innocent on the grounds of self-defense by a federal jury in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Robideaux recently died of cancer. No one was ever tried for the shooting of Stuntz.

Peltier has received support over the years from the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winners Nelson Mandela and Rigoberta Menchu, the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights, the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Rev. Jesse Jackson and several American Indian nations and organizations including the National Congress of American Indians and the Assembly of First Nations.

In 1992, actor Robert Redford produced the Michael Apted film, "Incident at Oglala," described as "persuasive in both its detail and its case against brutal federal policies toward Indians.

Supporters have said former President Clinton promised to free Peltier, but in the end he did not.

Peltier's home reservation, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians affirmed it would take Peltier back into the fold of his home community should he be paroled.

Carnes is asking for the public to raise its voice in support of Peltier's freedom as long as he remains in prison, saying clemency is now an objective.

"We still have the ability to call the White House and demand freedom for Leonard Peltier. Also, everyone has the opportunity to meet with their Congressional rep while they are home on recess back in their home state," he said. "We will begin expressing our outrage to the White House, demanding that President Obama grant clemency for Leonard Peltier. This has to happen and our time is now."

People can call President Obama's comment line at (202) 456-1111 and make the comment, "Grant clemency to Leonard Peltier."

Peltier was denied parole 15 years ago. He will not be eligible for parole again until 2024 when he will be 79 years old.

Education for Liberation! Venceremos Unidos!
Peter S. Lopez {aka:Peta}
Sacramento, California,Aztlan
Yahoo Email: peter.lopez51@yahoo.com 
Come Together! Join Up! Seize the Time!



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