Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Free allegedly innocent Native American activist from prison.
Citing the unfairness of the criminal justice system, President Obama recently commuted the sentences of 46 federal prisoners, freeing them from unjust incarceration. Native American activists and writers are calling on Obama to do the same for Leonard Peltier, an activist in the American Indian Movement who many believe was framed for the death of two federal agents forty years ago. At a trial that consisted of coerced, conflicting testimonies, many of which have been redacted by those who gave them, Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences for these crimes.
Peltier has spent the last four decades defending himself against these accusations. The case against him is murky at best, and many believe that law enforcement and the government colluded against Peltier because of his involvement in the American Indian Movement (AIM). A few years prior, AIM non-violently occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C. in protest of the government’s inattention to Native American issues, and were immediately listed as an extremist group by the federal government. Pro-Peltier activists allege that the federal government had a political interest in taking Peltier down.
Many who testified against Peltier now claim that they were coerced and bullied by law enforcement, and the “lack of any direct evidence” linking Peltier to the crimes has been acknowledged by the U.S. Parole Commission. At 71 years old, Peltier has now spent over half his life in prison, and his health is rapidly declining. Having suffered through a stroke and a myriad other health concerns, Peltier reportedly fears for his life in the chronically understaffed prison system. Urge President Obama to commute Leonard Peltier’s sentences so that he may seek adequate medical care and enjoy the freedom he’s been fighting for these last four decades.
Dear President Obama,
The case against Leonard Peltier has always been murky. The U.S. Parole Commission has admitted that there is a “lack of any direct evidence” linking Peltier to the crimes for which he has suffered so much. Coerced testimonies, flimsy evidence, and political interests of law enforcement were enough to keep Peltier in prison for four decades. Don’t let them keep him there until his death.
Peltier’s heath is rapidly declining after a recent stroke. He is suffering and near death after being subject to the prison system’s overloaded and understaffed medical system. We, the undersigned, plead with you to commute Leonard Peltier’s two life sentences, allowing him to finally walk free and seek adequate medical care.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Kenny Corbin