Leonard Peltier Denied Parole After Practically 50 Years In Jail

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Leonard Peltier was denied parole on Tuesday, that means there’s probably just one different method the ailing, 79-year-old Native American rights activist will ever be launched after serving practically 50 years in jail: If President Joe Biden intervenes and commutes his sentence.

Peltier has been in jail since 1977 when the U.S. authorities convicted him for killing two FBI brokers in a 1975 shoot-out on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

However his trial was stuffed with misconduct, together with federal prosecutors hiding proof that exonerated Peltier and the FBI threatening and coercing witnesses into mendacity. The federal government’s case fell aside after these revelations, so it abruptly revised its fees in opposition to Peltier to aiding and abetting whoever did kill these brokers — on the grounds that he was certainly one of dozens of individuals current when the shoot-out occurred.

There was by no means proof that Peltier dedicated against the law. The FBI and U.S. lawyer’s workplace by no means did determine who killed these brokers.

Peltier is extensively thought of America’s longest-serving political prisoner.

“Today is a sad day for Indigenous Peoples and justice everywhere,” Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective, an Indigenous-led advocacy group, stated in an announcement.

“They denied parole to a survivor of genocidal Indian boarding schools and as he struggles to survive his unjust incarceration, they insist on holding him for a crime for which they have no physical evidence against him,” stated Tilsen. “Clearly, the Parole Commission – which is supposed to be an independent body – was influenced by the FBI.”

The FBI continues to oppose Peltier’s launch and is the principle cause, if not the one cause, that he’s nonetheless in jail. However its acknowledged causes for opposing Peltier’s launch are stuffed with holes, outdated and remarkably simple to disprove.

The FBI additionally has not publicly addressed the important thing context of that 1975 shoot-out: That the FBI itself was deliberately fueling tensions on that reservation as a part of a covert marketing campaign to suppress the actions of the American Indian Motion, or AIM, a grassroots motion for Indigenous rights. Peltier was an energetic AIM member and an FBI goal.

Peltier has maintained his innocence your complete time he’s been in jail. It has virtually actually contributed to him being denied parole.

Previous to Tuesday, the final time Peltier was denied parole was in 2009. He’s unlikely to reside lengthy sufficient to attempt for parole once more, given the yearslong course of concerned, his superior age and his poor well being. Peltier has diabetes and an aortic aneurysm.

Leonard Peltier, practically 80, was denied parole once more after serving practically 50 years in jail. It is probably on President Joe Biden now to determine if he can ever go house.

In his parole listening to final month, Peltier’s crew made the case that he be allowed to reside out his closing years in house confinement, together with his household and tribe in North Dakota. His supporters have arrange a home for him there.

Presently, Peltier spends most days confined to a cell with inches of house to maneuver inside, as his most safety jail in Florida is commonly in a state of lockdown. He requires a walker to get round. He’s blind in a single eye from a stroke.

Biden is probably going Peltier’s final greatest hope for going house. The president has the authority to unilaterally launch him at any time. A few of Peltier’s allies have recommended they plan to throw all the pieces they’ve bought at pressuring Biden to particularly commute his sentence ― an motion that might grant Peltier his freedom with out the implicit forgiveness related to a pardon.

Up to now, Biden hasn’t stated a factor about Peltier.

A White Home spokesperson didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

In a uncommon interview in 2022, the imprisoned Native American rights activist stated he knew what he would say to Biden if he had 5 minutes alone with him.

“I’m not guilty of this shooting. I’m not guilty,” he advised HuffPost. “I would like to go home to spend what years I have left with my great-grandkids and my people.”

There may be an argument to be made that Biden is uniquely positioned to be the president who lastly lets Peltier go house.

In contrast to just about all of his predecessors, Biden has been a proud ally to Native communities and tribes since he stepped into the White Home. He has overseen historic investments in Indian Nation. He respects tribal sovereignty. He talks concerning the want for justice in Native communities, significantly relating to stopping violence in opposition to girls. He’s put unprecedented numbers of Indigenous judges onto the federal bench, and several other Indigenous folks into senior positions in his administration.

He made historical past when he appointed Inside Secretary Deb Haaland, the nation’s first Native American Cupboard secretary. She passionately urged for Peltier’s launch in her former position as a member of Congress.

Past that, Biden’s personal celebration has been pleading with him to point out compassion for Peltier. The Democratic Nationwide Committee voted unanimously in 2022 to cross a decision urging the president to launch Peltier. Dozens of senators and members of Congress, together with Biden’s former presidential rival Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Senate Indian Affairs Committee chairman Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), have known as on the president no less than 4 occasions to free Peltier.

“Mr. Peltier’s continued imprisonment defies the promises of justice, and the power to exercise mercy in this case lies solely within your discretion,” reads one of many senators’ letters to Biden.

“We commend the steps that your administration has taken to right past wrongs of our government’s treatment of Native Americans, particularly through Secretary Haaland’s leadership and her Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative. Furthermore, your administration has demonstrated a laudable commitment to upholding the core American values of liberty and justice, and rectifying inequities in the criminal justice system,” stated the senators.

“Consistent with these actions, we urge you to grant clemency to Mr. Peltier by commuting the remainder of his sentence,” they conclude.

President Joe Biden is proud of his record of lifting up Native American communities and people. Here, he embraces Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, his historic pick for the job.
President Joe Biden is pleased with his document of lifting up Native American communities and folks. Right here, he embraces Secretary of the Inside Deb Haaland, his historic decide for the job.

Chip Somodevilla through Getty Photos

Indigenous leaders and human rights advocates have been stepping up their calls on Biden to launch Peltier, too. Final yr, the president of the Nationwide Congress of American Indians, the biggest and strongest Native American rights group within the nation, advised HuffPost that Peltier’s freedom is a 2024 election precedence for the group.

“You’ve become complicit in this injustice for Indian Country,” Fawn Sharp, the president of NCAI on the time, stated of Biden for remaining silent about Peltier’s launch.

Suzan Harjo, a longtime Indigenous rights advocate and 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, has been urging Peltier’s launch for many years. In a name final month with reporters, she stated folks want to grasp that Peltier has come to signify a lot greater than himself for Indigenous folks.

“Leonard is in prison for all of us,” Harjo stated, highlighting Peltier’s activism with AIM to attract consideration to treaty rights violations, discrimination and police brutality concentrating on Native Individuals. “He is an example of the AIM movement for all of us who could be in prison.”

There’s a cause why “people who are oppressed everywhere” can establish with Peltier’s combat for justice, she stated. And if he is ready to go house, she added, he’ll see that the nation has modified for the higher for Native Individuals ― partly due to the issues he fought for.

“He doesn’t have to go out and defend us as he had to do before,” Harjo stated. “Everyone will be very joyous and say, ‘OK, let’s stand down now.’”

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