Friday, August 21, 2009
Leonard Peltier, a Chippewa activist and member of the American Indian Movement who was convicted in 1977 of the murder of two FBI agents, has been denied parole. Peltier is serving two consecutive life sentences in the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Peltier had been previously denied parole in 1993.
Peltier, along with Robert Robideau and Darelle “Dino” Butler, was charged with the murders of FBI Special Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams after a shootout during unrest on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Robideau and Butler were acquitted, the jury finding the shootings of Robideau and Butler having been in self defense, but Peltier had fled the country and was tried separately on his return and found guilty.
Peltier’s attorney, Eric Seitz, stated that the announcement of Peltier’s being denied parole was made without the courtesy of informing the defense, and noted that Peltier, currently 64 years of age, is in poor health with numerous complaints. U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley, meanwhile, called Peltier “an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed FBI special agents” who is “exactly where he belongs — federal prison”.
Peltier has consistently denied that he murdered Coler and Williams and maintains that the FBI framed him. Supporters of his release include a wide range of world figures, including Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama and Amnesty International, while not classifying Peltier as a political prisoner, asserts that “there is concern about the fairness of the
proceedings leading to his conviction and it is believed that political factors may have influenced the way the case was prosecuted.”
A statement from the FBI released after the announcement that Peltier would stay in jail reads, in part, “His callous criminal acts demonstrated a complete disrespect for human life and for the law. His time served in jail for their 1975 murders has not diminished the brutality of his crimes or the pain and sorrow felt by the families of his victims or the FBI family.”
Leonard Peltier is next eligible for parole in 2024.
–Russell Means Comments—
Everything about Leonard Peltier’s case stinks of complete racism. No one including his lawyers argue this in court. Even Amnesty International is racist in not labeling him as a political prisoner.
Leonard Peltier personifies the endemic hatred the United States and its People exhibit on a daily basis against American Indian people on reservations and in society as a whole. There are two examples; the Bower case a white man, and a Croatian, Zvonko Buzic who was convicted of murdering 2 police agents, who escaped and was an exemplary prisoner identical to Leonard Peltier. He was released last summer 2008 after serving his mandatory sentence.
In all fairness, using the above as an example Leonard Peltier should have been released last February. This is further proof Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner. If all of the sell out tribal government puppets of the United States had any self dignity and self pride they would continually be up in arms over this blatant exhibition of hatred for the American Indian.
Russell Means, Chief Facilitator
Republic of Lakotah Provisional Government