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From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Tue Oct 24 06:24:23 2000
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 17:40:11 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Bill Fitzpatrick <b.fitzpatrick@UTORONTO.CA>
Subject: 'Step up efforts to free Leonard Peltier'

Step up efforts to free Leonard Peltier

By Jim McMahan, Workers World,
26 October 2000

Blaine, Wash.—The struggle to free Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier continues to escalate this fall. On Oct. 8, International Indigenous People's Day, some 200 people marched and rallied on the U.S.-Canadian border here to demand that President Bill Clinton grant executive clemency for Peltier.

Peltier, an American Indian Movement warrior, is serving two consecutive life sentences after defending his people from an FBI-organized reign of terror on the Pine Ridge, South Dakota, reservation in 1975.

Peltier and his supporters maintain that he was falsely convicted of killing two FBI agents. He's remained in prison for 24-and-a-half years, even though the government's case against him has collapsed. The chief prosecutor in Peltier's case later admitted, We don't know who killed those agents.

Native drummers and singers, youth runners from the nearby Lummi Nation reservation, a Free Peltier banner and a woman on horseback led off the march. At the Peach Arch on the border, representatives of Canada's First Nations joined Native people and supporters from the United States.

Long-time Peltier defense organizer Harold Belmont chaired the rally. Members of Peltier's original defense team in Canada were honored. Kelley White and Coast Salish led the people in a militant four directions ceremony and tobacco offering in the spirit of Leonard Peltier, in the spirit of Crazy Horse.

Youths came from the Warm Springs, Ore., reservation, the Northwest AIM chapter in Tacoma, Wash., and the Lummi Nation. Vancouver-area youths, who have carried out occupations in support of the Native fishing-rights struggle at Burnt Church, Nova Scotia, drummed and spoke. The youths from Canada included members of the Native Youth Movement and People for Aboriginal Rights from Coast to Coast.

Arthur Miller of the Northwest Leonard Peltier Support Network, which organized the march, also spoke. He said the U.S. administration would probably rule on Peltier's long-neglected executive clemency petition before Clinton's term ends.

The clearest sign of this, he said, is a public anti-clemency campaign being waged by the FBI and right-wing members of Congress. He urged all people who believe in social justice to call the White House at (202) 456-1111 to support Peltier's clemency bid, and to intensify