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Leonard Peltier, three decades of freedom denied.
February 6, 2006 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Leonard Peltier...three decades of freedom denied. Thirty years ago today—February 6, 1976—the Canadian government arrested Leonard Peltier...later extraditing him to the U.S. for trial (sic). Some Peltier FAQ. Another informative site. How the other side sees it. Peltier and the American Indian Movement (AIM). Sign the online petition. As Dylan sang about Hurricane: "To see him obviously framed couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land where justice is a game."
posted by mickeyz (40 comments total)

 
George Bush doesn't care about black red people
posted by matteo at 7:28 AM on February 6, 2006


Thanks for posting this, its a overlooked story and it shows a lot about socitey.
posted by wheelieman at 7:39 AM on February 6, 2006


This case has never been clear to me. While Hurricane was pulled over in a car after the crime had taken place, and later successful appealed his case and had his conviction overturned.

In contrast, Mr. Peltier was arrested after direct involvement in an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement officials, attempted armed escape from prison, and hasn't been successful in appealing his case.

I'm not convinced that the federal authorities were completely in the right, but I'm also not convinced that Mr. Peltier wasn't involved in the shooting.

I think Dylan is being quoted inappropriately.
posted by ewkpates at 8:19 AM on February 6, 2006


If you make the claim that George Bush doesn't care about red people then you also have to make the case that neither does Clinton, the previous George Bush, Reagan and Carter.
posted by Qubit at 8:23 AM on February 6, 2006


Thanks for posting this, its a overlooked story and it shows a lot about socitey.

An overlooked story? By that I would have to assume you mean looked at over and over?

If you make the claim that George Bush doesn't care about red people then you also have to make the case that neither does Clinton, the previous George Bush, Reagan and Carter.

Don't forget Ford. Carter became president January 20th, 1977.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:29 AM on February 6, 2006


I could be wrong, but I don't think Peltier was arrested in Canada until the USA presented (false) documents claiming he was guilty of a crime. He was extradited immediately. Your post makes it seem like he was arrested there, but there was no reason for the gov't to arrest him.

Canada not asking for Peltier back, after sufficient evidence that the "proof" presented by the FBI was obtained by duress and consisted of out and out lies, is a mar on the country, imo. In fact, I believe that there have been protests for the Canadian gov't to do exactly this, back when Mulroney was fucking things up and lying about helping David Milgaard (one of Canada's own fuckups of justice).

Those interested in Peltier (or interested in the FBI and the way they enforce the law), should check out Peter Matthiessen's excellent book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, which the US gov't has tried to suppress and censor. Cinephiles and the illiterate may enjoy Michael Apted's Incident at Oglala.

I also think the Dylan quote is bizarre in this context. In the first place, there have probably been more songs written about Peltier than Carter. In the second... well, it just seems bizarre.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:41 AM on February 6, 2006


The Dylan quote really is bizarre...and the comparison to Hurricane Carter is unfortunate...check out this one on Carter:
http://crimemagazine.com/hurricane.htm

Carter was not as "innocent" as portrayed by Dylan's song, by any stretch of the imagination.
posted by aldus_manutius at 9:18 AM on February 6, 2006


If you make the claim that George Bush doesn't care about red people then you also have to make the case that neither does Clinton, the previous George Bush, Reagan and Carter.

I hate to support Bush on anything, but this is true. One of my big disappointments with the Clinton presidency was that he refused to pardon Peltier.

At the time, I felt that it was because he felt like he couldn't get away with pardoning a guy who had been convicted of killing government agents.

Now I'm not sure why not, but it's true you can't lay this at Bush's feet without doing the same to every other President in the past 30 years.
posted by illovich at 9:43 AM on February 6, 2006


Clinton was considering clemency, not a pardon.
posted by Pollomacho at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Can someone please explain, in non-partisan, non "Free Mumia!" terms, why Peltier deserves clemency/a pardon/acquittal? The way I understand it, he shot at and killed two FBI agents. I could be misinformed, but I'm genuinely curious.
posted by fandango_matt at 9:55 AM on February 6, 2006


Peltier don't care about FBI people.

/sorry.
posted by iamck at 10:07 AM on February 6, 2006


he refused to pardon Peltier

this is incorrect. he was about to, in late 2000, but then 500 FBI agents and their families started picketing the White House, and Director Louis Freeh himself (the great man whio busted Richard Jewell and Wen Ho Lee and solved so brilliantly the Waco standoff) wrote Clinton asking him to keep the red man in jail.
posted by matteo at 10:19 AM on February 6, 2006


and yes, of course it was clemency, not a pardon
posted by matteo at 10:20 AM on February 6, 2006


fandango_matt, I don't think Peltier deserves clemency/a pardon/acquittal. But I do think he has a right to a fair trial, something he has never had.

His guilt/innocence regarding the two agents has never been firmly established (and probably never will be). However, for certain, the FBI fabricated evidence against him and coerced/threatened witnesses for the prosecution in his original trial. I don't think these things have ever been properly dismissed or denied and evidence of the wrong doing in the trial is well researched by Matthiessen in the above-mentioned book.

As a quick, but by no means exhuastive, example, in order to get Canada to agree to arrest/extradition, the FBI produced signed affidavits by a woman named Myrtle Poor Bear. She said she was Peltier's girlfriend and saw him shoot the agents.

In reality, Myrtle had never met Peltier and has gone on record to say that the FBI threatened her and her family if she didn't sign the affidavit. Omitted from the FBI's account is how, if Myrtle had witnessed the executions, she was never mentioned in any of the evidence/documents surrounding the crime itself. In essence, they claimed that she claimed that she was present, yet they never presented her as a witness nor did they charge her with any crime. Nor was her presence qualified in the accounts of the shootouts and the escape of the criminals.

This is just one of the many holes in the FBI's case and, from any angle, it is a significant one. Of course, it doesn't mean Peltier is innocent, but the fact of this frabrication, in and of itself, should be enough to say that his trial was not a fair one and that he at least deserves a retrial.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:23 AM on February 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


I can't help but think that people who claim this case, and others, are unreported either just aren't paying attention or only get their news from tv.

In the Peltier case I have to believe they just aren't paying attention, since there was a movie about it starring Val Kilmer.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105585/

Sure, it was only loosley based on the real events, but don't you people read? Hell, I did a term paper on it back in 89.
posted by nyxxxx at 10:29 AM on February 6, 2006


An interesting take on the whole picture, from Outside Magazine in 1995, hardly a raging partisan in the issue... examines Peter Matthiessens' role, the famed 60 minutes news feature about Pelletier, and many more surprises.

"In just 20 years, the Peltier story has so entered the realm of myth that apparently its architects no longer feel the need to adhere to the most rudimentary of facts."
posted by zaelic at 10:38 AM on February 6, 2006


I used to intern at a congressional office in the Dakotas (I'm not saying which one). The file on Peltier was a few feet thick with documents. The director of our office said that they know Peltier was framed but the FBI is just irrationally insane about this and refuses to see reason.
posted by Ber at 10:39 AM on February 6, 2006


FREE HAT!
posted by Gungho at 11:26 AM on February 6, 2006


What gets me about this case is not so much Peltier's case itself, his guilt or innocence, but that so much attention is given to him and so little to the undoubtedly, hundreds of others like him that rot in jail because they don't have a glitzy story or major funding for a "Free X" campaign.

Most of them aren't Native Americans though, so screw them.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:47 AM on February 6, 2006


He used to be America's only political prisoner.

:(
posted by 31d1 at 11:52 AM on February 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Pollomacho, precisely which cases of injustice are going neglected because of the attention given to Peltier, and what evidence do you have that that specifically is the reason? Please also demonstrate, with examples, that Native American advocacy is rampant and directly and significantly detracts from advocacy for other causes.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:01 PM on February 6, 2006


I want to see ALL America's political prisoners freed. And George W. Bush should be impeached for treason.
posted by davy at 12:16 PM on February 6, 2006


Besides those at Camp X-Ray, who are America's political prisoners? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2006


Characterizing Leonard Peltier as nothing more than a "political prisoner" is being wilfully obtuse. I urge everyone to read the Outside piece cited in zaelic's post. His trial certainly left much to be desired, but that doesn't automatically make him innocent (any more than it automatically makes him guilty).
posted by pardonyou? at 12:28 PM on February 6, 2006


Want to have fun? Ask a hipster wearing a “Che” t-shirt what he thinks about Leonard Peltier.
Lots of “ums” in that conversation usually.
You’re not real counterculture unless you have a t-shirt. Y’know, that people can buy at the Gap n’stuff.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:33 PM on February 6, 2006


I don't care whether Peltier's innocent or not. He's been in prison for 30 years; how many people who clearly did worse have been freed after less time than that?

And they still haven't even tried to impeach Bush for treason; if they do impeach him (and less likely, convict him) I bet he won't get 30 years for anything, including being responsible for the murder of far more people than Peltier's ever been accused of.

Kill two FBI agents in a gunfight, get life in prison; slaughter hundreds of Afghani and Iraqi villagers, get re-selected President.
posted by davy at 12:37 PM on February 6, 2006


I'm going to take a bold position and say that if you kill two FBI agents, you should get life in prison.
posted by smackfu at 12:44 PM on February 6, 2006


Under any circumstances?
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:48 PM on February 6, 2006


posted by smackfu I'm going to take a bold position and say that if you kill two FBI agents, you should get life in prison.

I agree. However, this isn't the debate. The debate is whether Peltier got a fair trial.
posted by fandango_matt at 12:56 PM on February 6, 2006


Ask a hipster wearing a “Che” t-shirt

Wait, a hipster would wear a "Che" shirt unironically? That sir, is not a hipster.
posted by iamck at 1:14 PM on February 6, 2006


Although the movie, "Incident at Oglala" probably wasn't the best representation of the circumstances surrounding the event, it did bring up some useful evidence. The evidence was overwhelming that Peltier had nothing to do with the killing. He was blamed and persecuted as a scape goat by the Federal government. Evidence was manufactured and if examined critically could be seen for the crap that it was.
posted by JJ86 at 1:25 PM on February 6, 2006


Pollomacho, precisely which cases of injustice are going neglected because of the attention given to Peltier, and what evidence do you have that that specifically is the reason? Please also demonstrate, with examples, that Native American advocacy is rampant and directly and significantly detracts from advocacy for other causes.

George_Spiggot, would you like to explain where I made any such statement? Peltier is a flashy case that gets a lot of media attention and has for the last 30 years, that neither adds to nor detracts from hundreds of other cases similar to his that don't get any media attention. What I said was that it was sad that the others get virtually no attention

Here's an example of Native Americans as a cause celebre.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:29 PM on February 6, 2006


Kill two FBI agents in a gunfight, get life in prison

But this isn't what Peltier was accused of doing. He was accused of executing two defenseless, wounded people point-blank in the face.
posted by me & my monkey at 1:41 PM on February 6, 2006


“That sir, is not a hipster.”

I concede to the fluidity of language, sirrah.
A true ‘hipster’ most likely is past the “Che” phase and only a hipser poseur would be wearing the t-shirt now. I blame my dowdy 20th century upbringing.

----

I suppose if I was around in the Pine Ridge reservation I’d be a little pissed off.
Particularly considering just recently the bullshit with Abramoff ("monkeys", "troglodites" "idiots”, etc.) and the indian casino crap.

I suppose wuz I an American Indian I’d have some serious problems with the U.S. government.

Mandela supports him. That’s a decent enough reason to (re)think about it.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:14 PM on February 6, 2006


That is what Pelletier is accused of doing, yes. But an accusation has to match the evidence - we are talking pre-OJ here - and that evidence is so tainted and contradictory that it would seem to not stck up into a conviction, based on what is known today.

What is known today is that the FBI made a botch of the case and is standing by their story even if one Indian has to spend his life in jail. Wounded Knee in the 70s wasn't a simple criminal issue, it was a shooting war. The FBI decided to make an example out of Pelletier - whether the evidence stacks up or not.

No, it is NOT OK to shoot FBI agents. But it is not ok to tamper with evidence and witnesses and railroad people into life terms either.
posted by zaelic at 2:16 PM on February 6, 2006


What gets me about this case is not so much Peltier's case itself, his guilt or innocence, but that so much attention is given to him and so little to the undoubtedly, hundreds of others like him that rot in jail because they don't have a glitzy story or major funding for a "Free X" campaign.

I dunno. I hear a lot more about the Innocence Project than Leonard Peltier.

That said, he did run for president in 2004, and I voted for him (though I much preferred Walt Brown--America needs to hear from more pro-life socialists).

I used to see Free Leonard T-shirts all over. Now you still see bumper stickers.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:35 PM on February 6, 2006


> If you make the claim that George Bush doesn't care about red people then you
> also have to make the case that neither does Clinton, the previous George Bush,
> Reagan and Carter.

And me. I won't be President until 2012. I can't speak for Condi.
posted by jfuller at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2006


yeah, she'll carry all those Southern states in the GOP primaries, yessir! all of them! (I'm looking forward to her Bob Jones University speech)

anyway, back to topic: I don't really know whether our "fry the Indian" friends do that just to troll or they don't really grasp the concept of "fair trial" (which, by the way, is the cornerstone -- Jefferson's words, not mine -- of the American system many of you guys seem so eager to export to savage Mesopotamia). but really, Peltier never had a chance in court -- kangaroo courts are distinctly un-American, to use a terminology that recently came back in fashion.

and since the Pavlovian reflex of invoking Mumia is always there, well, Peltier's trial was even more unfair than Mumia's, and that's saying something.

if the government cannot arrest and indict and try and convict an accused person fairly, then that person must be set free, regardless of his or her actual guilt -- it's the democratic, American way. anything else, it's sheer desire to lock away the differently-skinned.
posted by matteo at 12:33 AM on February 7, 2006


I voted for Leonard Peltier for president.
posted by telstar at 1:26 AM on February 7, 2006


oh, and re: Guevara --

El Mito Hecho Hombre
posted by matteo at 3:42 AM on February 7, 2006


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