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News ::
Leonard Peltier's Defense Committee Reorganizes & Sets Sights on 6000 pgs at FBI
10 Sep 2001
This press release comes from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
Leonard Peltier's Defense Committee Reorganizes and Sets Sights on 6000 Pages Still Held by FBI

On the eve of imprisoned American Indian activist, Leonard Peltier's birthday, September 12, the committee that has long waged the crusade for his freedom is unveiling a restructured organization and strategic campaign. President Clinton's failure to grant clemency in January of 2001, in spite of documented FBI misconduct and serious questions about Peltier's guilt, has made Peltier supporters even more determined to rally for justice.
Peltier was tried in 1976 for the killing of two FBI agents who with back up from a swat team-like force, chased a red pick up truck onto the Jumping Bull residence on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, June 26, 1975. The FBI claims the day of the shoot out, they entered
the ranch in search of a young Indian man accused of stealing a used pair of cowboy boots. Peltier, with other young American Indian Movement (AIM) members - mostly in their teens, were on the ranch to protect Mr. and Mrs. Jumping Bull, traditional elders of the Lakota people. The Jumping Bulls
had asked for AIM protection from a community at odds over traditional versus contemporary values. Excessive violence against Lakota traditionals had often been reported in the years preceding the shoot out. FBI involvement in such action was a disturbing factor in tribal disputes over land management and sale of reservation natural resources. As the shoot out ensued between AIM supporters and FBI agents, the leader of Pine
Ridge's
tribal council, a nontraditional, signed in secret, an agreement
transferring 1/8th of the reservation, rich in minerals and uranium
over to
the federal government. The government came away with highly prized
natural
resources, at the price of two FBI agents. As for the traditional
Lakota,
the loss of one young Indian man - his death never investigated, and
loss of
tribal lands.
Peltier's case has never come to rest satisfactorily. FBI
and
prosecutor misconduct rife throughout the trial, has not moved a
judicial
system that in 1985 admitted, "We can't prove who shot those agents."
Some
of what is now known about that day in 1975 has been obtained by
acquisition
of FBI files through the Freedom of Information Act. However, to date,
the
agency refuses to release 6000 further pages of unreported
documentation.
Restructuring Peltier's Defense Committee started last
winter
after President Clinton's notorious list of clemencies failed to
include
Peltier. The Committee includes a new Board of Directors beginning
with Dr.
Michael Yellow Bird, Associate Professor of Social Work at the
University of
Arizona, Glenn Marshall, Council President of the Mashpee Wampanoag
tribe of
Massachusetts and Matt Hill, a Mohawk grassroots activist. Also
joining the
head office in Lawrence, Kansas is Debra Peebles, a Red Lake Chippewa,
writer, media coordinator and long time activist for Native spiritual
rights
in prisons, and sits on the Board of Chaplains for the Department of
Corrections in Missouri. As for strategy, the Leonard Peltier Defense
Committee plans to file a major civil rights lawsuit seeking damages
and
injunctive relief for the FBI's obstruction of Peltier's clemency and
parole
through the dissemination of misinformation to both key officials and
the
public. Peltier's legal defense team will also file a Freedom of
Information Act lawsuit seeking the 6,000 concealed FBI documents.
Additionally, Peltier's defense team is preparing a new case which
seeks to
reduce Peltier's sentence to time served.
Mr. Peltier, detained in Leavenworth Prison, Leavenworth,
Kansas
says of another birthday behind bars, "Last year at this time I really
believed I would be enjoying this day with my grandchildren, but I
continue
to keep faith. Today I think about how I walked in here a young man
and now
I am an elder just like those people I was protecting. But really, I'm
grateful for all those people around the world who have worked hard on
my
behalf, and those who have come forward with fresh energy and insight.
I am
really honored by the loyalty and support, so I trust the Creator that
one
day the truth will be told and I will walk out the front door."

Support Senate Hearings on Peltier Case!
Call Senator Leahy: 202-224-4242
See also:
http://www.freepeltier.org & http://www.peltiersupport.org/
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correction to URLs
10 Sep 2001
The correct URLs are:

http://www.freepeltier.org (Leonard Peltier Defense Committee)
http://www.peltiersupport.org (Boston's local group website)