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Date: Thu, 28 Dec 1995 18:18:01 GMT
Reply-To: Joe Quickle <R2JSQ@VM1.CC.UAKRON.EDU>
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
From: Joe Quickle <R2JSQ@VM1.CC.UAKRON.EDU>
Organization: The University of Akron
To: Multiple recipients of list ACTIV-L <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>

Summary of Leonard Peltier's case

28 December 1995

1972-1976 on Pine Ridge reservation marked a reign of terror, supported by the US government and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The US installed a puppet regime to expedite seizure of uranium-rich land from the reservation, and then overlooked and even supported attacks and murders directed against the traditional Lakota who opposed the U.S.-backed regime.

Drive-by shootings, firebombings, and other assaults against traditionals were rampant, giving Pine Ridge the highest per-capital murder rate in the country. Despite maintaining the highest agent-to-citizen ratio anywhere in the U.S. at the time, the FBI cited inadequate manpower as their reason for not investigating the bulk of the violence. Testimony by former members of the tribal chair's paramilitary squads has revealed that the FBI aided and directed much of the violence, providing information and even ammunition.

In June 1975, two FBI agents engaged in a firefight with still unknown individuals after following their pickup truck onto a private ranch. A group of American Indian Movement members had been asked to camp on the ranch by its owners, traditional elders, to protect them. Believing they were under attack, the AIM members returned fire in defense. Two agents and one Indian activist died in the firefight that ensued.

Two participants in the firefight were tried in the agents' deaths and were found not guilty based on self-defense. Another, Leonard Peltier, was extradited from Canada based on a perjured affidavit which had been coerced by FBI agents. At Peltier's trial the judge barred most of the overwhelming amount of evidence in Peltier's defense. FBI agents were allowed to perjure themselves (giving statements that conflicted with their own written reports and their testimony at the earlier trial), and the FBI provided fabricated evidence (although this did not come out until after Peltier's conviction, with the release of FBI documents under the Freedom of Information Act).

Leonard Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, without ever having a fair trial. Despite FBI documents demonstrating that the original evidence against him was falsified, he has been denied all appeals.

Leonard Peltier has widespread support from around the world: over 25 million people have signed petitions for his release: he has the support of over 50 members of the US Congress, 50 members of the Canadian Parliament, Amnesty International, the National Association of Christians and Jews, Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Nelson Mandela; and the Canadian Justice Ministry is currently investigating the circumstances of Peltier's extradition.

(Note: this is only the briefest of summaries; a great number of improprieties and illegal acts on the part of the government have been left out for the sake of brevity. See the For more information section below if you are interested in learning more.)

Current Status

Leonard Peltier's early December parole hearing went very well, providing an important window of opportunity for supporters to contact the U.S. Parole before they make their decision in the next several weeks.

A campaign for presidential clemency is also underway, as an appeal for clemency is currently being reviewed by President Clinton.