Page contents: Peltier, parole 2000, FBI and what
happened that day
Free Leonard Peltier page
Leonard Peltier Updates Fall 2000
Jan.-early Fall Peltier, FBI, parole 2000
1999 Mar. 1998
Past Health Reports Leonard Peltier on mining
June 26, 2000
The "fingerprint" was not found on Coler's gun..a single "thumb print" was found on the paper bag in which the gun was found. FBI misconduct in the case against those arrested on the traffic stop in Oregon is essentially what got that case thrown out of court after the longest running criminal trial case in US history.
SA Williams is the agent who accompanied SA David Price on the questioning of Anna Mae Aquash, who along with Michael Anderson is also deceased under questionable circumstances. Interesting, yes?
So, if the remainder of the 6,000 documents are not released due to lack of funding...justice is then only for the wealthy in this country? Think about it.
The news article states that Coler was purchasing a starter home in Rapid city..but his family remained in Colorado per the agent who testified he had spoken with him that morning, and who also testified he was looking after his house and collecting mail while he was gone.
Below is an urgent action protesting Leonard Peltier's denial of parole. Please stay alert for further information regarding the campaign for executive clemency. We are now at the most urgent stage of this year's campaign. Plan to be in Washington DC on October 27 to demonstrate this injustice. Thank you for your ongoing support. Time to dust ourselves off, and forge ahead.
In Solidarity, The LPDC
Yesterday, June 12, 2000 a parole hearing for Mr. Leonard Peltier was conducted at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Mr. Peltier attended, together with his attorneys, Carl Nadler, Jennifer Harbury and Ramsay Clark. Despite the extraordinary presentation of evidence as to his eligibility, described below, Mr. Peltier was denied parole before the hearing officer had even read the materials offered. The decision will still be considered by the U.S. parole commissioners in Washington D.C. before the denial is finalized. However, it is abundantly clear that there will be no release, no matter how uniquely eligible Mr. Peltier may be, unless he confesses to a crime he did not commit.
An arbitrary, irrational and capricious denial of parole is a due process violation under the United States Constition.
A decision to deny parole before the evidence is even read or considered is a denial of a fair hearing and constitutes a due process violation of the US Constitution as well.
A denial of parole in order to force mr. Peltier to confess to a crime he did not commit is a due process violation as well.
Please call Janet Reno's offices and comment : the main switchboard number is 202 ?514-2000
Also : White House switchboard 202-456 1414
WHAT WAS PRESENTED AT THE HEARING :
1. 10,000 letters from supporters around the world, all from the last three months
2. Scores of letters from Nobel Peace Laureates, National and International religious networks, human rights luminaries such as Amnesty International, Coretta Scott King, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and the Kennedy Memorial Center on Human Rights.
3. Scores of Tribal resolutions demanding Mr. Peltier�s immediate release.
4. A multi page listing of Mr. Peltier�s humanitarian work from behind bars, including sponsorship of a Native American scholarship program, an annual Christmas drive for the children of Pine Ridge, the adoption of children in Central America, and the establishment of a prisoner art program, among many other praiseworthy activities and contributions.
5. A multi page medical evaluation from a doctor affiliated with Physicians for Human Rights, detailing his deteriorating medical conditions including his diabetes and blood pressure problems, the inadequate medical care at Leavenworth, and the potential complications, including kidney failure and blindness.
6. Eight employment, social services and housing offers from across the United States and Canada.
7. Statements of support from and request for his release from representatives of the National Congress of American Indians as well as the Assembly of First Nations.
8. A character reference and call for healing from a survivor from the Reign of Terror.
9. Calls for his immediate and unconditional release from representatives from Amnesty International and the Interfaith League of Political Prisoners, an affiliate of the National Council of Churches.
The parole hearing officer received some of these materials, told us to mail him the rest, and declined to even read the medical evaluation or the other written materials. His key issue was the fact that Leonard�s version of the events that day do not square with the FBI version, for which he was convicted.
1. Mr. Peltier did not receive a serious or fair hearing on his parole request.
2. Mr. Peltier is more qualified for parole than almost any other prisoner. Yet he will not be given parole unless he confesses to a crime that he did not commit. That fact that he was denied a fair trial and that false testimonies were used to convict him, and that a critical ballistic test showing his innocence was withheld, will not be taken into consideration. Nor will the fact that even the U.S. Attorney now admits that no one knows who pulled the trigger.
Call the White House Comments Line Today Demand Justice for Leonard Peltier! 202-456-1111
LEONARD PELTIER REVIEWED FOR PAROLE United States Parole Examiner Refuses to Consider New Evidence
Native American rights activist, Leonard Peltier was reviewed for parole today during a hearing held at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary in Kansas. The hearing was held to determine whether there is any reason why the Parole Commission should change their 1993 decision to deny Peltier parole. Today Peltier�s representatives told the Commission that Peltier�s health, serious family needs, and his positive program achievements were all reasons for the Commission to reconsider their denial of parole to Peltier. They also argued that the Commission�s original decision to deny parole was wrong. They said the Commission has yet to justify their reasons for denying his release in excess of what their guidelines recommend.
The Parole Examiner refused to read a report from Dr. Peter Basch who, after reviewing Peltier�s recent medical records, determined that problems with Peltier�s health could result in �recurrent central retinal vein occlusion, stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure.� The doctor also noted that several of Mr. Peltier�s health problems had not been treated appropriately by prison medical staff.
Attending the parole hearing were representatives for Amnesty International, the National Council of Churches, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Assembly of First Nations. Legal council included attorneys Jennifer Harbury, Carl Nadler, and former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Jean Ann Day, survivor of the Pine Ridge �reign of terror� also testified.
The Parole examiner did not respond to pleas from Amnesty International or the National Council of Churches, and he showed no interest in the eight parole plans offering Peltier housing and employment from various Native Organizations and tribes.
Furthermore, the examiner refused to accept or consider the 10,000 letters collected over the last three months from US citizens, human rights organizations, luminaries and members of the international community supporting Peltier�s release.
Without deliberation or the consideration of any documents presented, the parole examiner recommended that Peltier�s sentence be continued until his next full parole hearing in 2008. Those in attendance reported that the examiner wrote the denial while the presentation was still being made.
Peltier�s defense council will continue to protest the Parole Commission�s denial of parole to Peltier in federal court. Supporters will continue efforts to gain Peltier�s release through a grant of Executive Clemency. Leonard Peltier was originally convicted for the murders of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. However, formerly withheld documents supporting Peltier�s innocence would later force the prosecution to admit that they could not prove who actually killed the agents. Despite this, Peltier has remained in prison for 24 years. Amnesty International considers him to be a political prisoner who should be immediately released.
Answers To Common Questions About
QUESTION: I thought Leonard would not have another parole hearing until the year 2008.
ANSWER: In 1994, the Parole Commission denied Leonard Peltier parole and set his next full hearing date for the year 2008. However, the Commission is required to hold what is called an �interim parole hearing� every two years in order to see if there is any reason to change their original decision to deny parole. At this time, an inmate can argue that the commission�s original decision was based on error. An inmate can also present �extraordinary circumstances� such as serious medical problems or exceptionally positive behavior.
QUESTION: What are the possible results of an interim parole hearing?
ANSWER: The commission can either 1.continue Leonard�s sentence with no change in their original decision 2. Move his next full hearing to a closer date 3. Grant his release
QUESTION: What are the chances? Do things look good?
ANSWER: On one hand, things look pretty positive. For the first time, Amnesty International is planning to attend the hearing in person. The National Council of Churches, the AFN and the NCAI will also be represented. Over seven thousand letters have been collected in support of Leonard Peltier�s release. Several delegations have met with the Justice Department this year to urge the US to grant Leonard Peltier his freedom. Overall activity around his case is on the increase. On the other hand, the Parole Commission has never treated Leonard�s case fairly. They have denied him parole far beyond what their guidelines recommend with no justification whatsoever, treating his case with malice and discrimination. The parole commission, which is in the process of being dismantled, has been mandated by law to give all �old law� prisoners a presumptive parole date. Yet, they have not done so with Leonard Peltier. Therefore, we do not want to mislead anyone by saying there is great reason to be optimistic. However, it is possible that the Parole Commission will be more cautious in the way it treats the case, leaving there reason to be hopeful.
QUESTION: When will we know what the results of the hearing are?
ANSWER: A Parole Examiner will facilitate the parole hearing. He will assess the situation and then make his own personal recommendation. However, the Commission is not bound to the examiner�s decision and it can take anywhere from a week to two months for them to produce their final decision. In 1995 the parole examiner actually thought the commission should reexamine their decision to deny parole and noted the lack of proof against Leonard, his excellent conduct in prison and his human rights achievements. However the commission refused to reconsider. For this reason, it will be important for us to continue pressure on the justice department after the hearing concludes. More details in this regard will be made available soon. (We will report the parole examiner�s initial recommendation immediately after the hearing concludes.)
It comes as no surprise that a new organization named the "No Parole Peltier Association" or NPPA is in fact another guise for the FBI to continue their campaign of disinformation against Leonard Peltier. The NPPA consists of a website sponsored by an FBI agent, asking people to sign a petition against Leonard Peltier's parole release. Once again the FBI are going beyond their jurisdiction as law enforcement officials to defame Leonard Peltier, while further misinforming the public about the case. In doing this, the FBI is further obstructing justice in the Peltier case and interfering in his right to due process under the law.
The NPPA's position as to why they do not support Leonard Peltier's parole release is unclear. They make no mention of why Leonard Peltier should be held in prison far longer than the laws and guidelines of the Parole Commission require. Most everything mentioned on their website is irrelevant, and makes no case against Leonard Peltier's parole release. Instead, they attack Leonard Peltier's character, Mr. X, and the trial of Robert Robideau and Dino Butler. To see the site for yourself go to: www.noparolepeltier.com
However futile it may seem, we would like to respond to some of the allegations made on the NPPA site because we feel it is important to strongly reinstate our reasons for supporting Leonard Peltier's release.
The "PURPOSE" section of the NPPA site contains a paragraph titled "Correcting Wrongs of the Past." It is here the NPPA implies that supporters of Leonard Peltier are simply blinded by their sorrow for the US government's brutal past with Native Americans. They go as far as to say "history cannot be altered. Nothing can change the broken promises and treaties and subjugation of the first peoples to inhabit this continent."
However, the Peltier case has long underlined the CURRENT attitudes and continuing racism against Indigenous Peoples by the US government. Leonard Peltier was accused of killing two FBI agents during a time when the FBI themselves were illegally seeking to destroy AIM.
In the years surrounding the shoot-out over 60 members and supporters of the American Indian Movement were murdered on Pine Ridge. Despite an overwhelming FBI presence, virtually no prosecutions were brought. Former GOON leader, Duane Brewer, has told us that the FBI helped to arm the GOONs and they intentionally looked the other way when crimes against AIM members and supporters were committed. In short, the GOONs were given the green light to murder and beat people with impunity. Hardly is this ancient history and surely the FBI should be held accountable for their participation in the violence. The double standard that allows an innocent man to pay for the deaths of two FBI agents while the murders of AIM members and supporters are given no priority whatsoever is what most of Leonard Peltier's supporters find disturbing and unacceptable.
Secondly, the NPPA state throughout their web site that the agents only shot 5 times before they were killed, that there was no gun battle between the Jumping Bull residents, and that the agents merely shot in self defense.
They say that "agent Coler had fired one shot from a service revolver, one shot from a 12-gauge shotgun and one shot from a .308 rifle . . . Agent Williams had fired two shots from his service revolver. . ."
However, there is no evidence to support this contention and it contradicts the testimony of all of those who were at the scene, including the testimony of Angie Long Visitor, who said the agents repeatedly fired their guns. It would be hard to imagine agent Coler picking up three different guns, and firing each one once within a ten minute period, as the NPPA claims.
Further, the NPPA claim that though Robideau and Butler were acquitted on grounds of self-defense, it does not mean they were actually innocent. The LPDC, they say, fails to consider the "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" standard. However, we contend that the NPPA fails to recognize the "innocent until proven guilty" standard, meaning they cannot continue to accuse Butler and Robideau of being guilty, and Leonard Peltier of aiding and abetting them, when in fact no evidence of this exists.
[**COMPARISON OF THE TRIALS: http://www.freepeltier.org/trials_comp.htm#top ...**]
[**POOR BEAR AFFIDAVITS:
In response to this they said, "we recognize that there is evidence in this record of improper conduct on the part of some FBI agents, but we are reluctant to impute even further improprieties to them." They concluded the following:
[**FIRING PIN TEST:
Lastly, the NPPA attempts to demoralize Leonard Peltier's character, pointing to perceived flaws in his lifestyle. However, Leonard Peltier is not being held in prison for imperfections in his personality, and we do not feel it is necessary to respond to such allegations.
In conclusion, we insist that the complete lack of evidence against Leonard Peltier combined with his excellent conduct in prison and his continued advocacy for human rights from behind bars, make him a perfect candidate for parole. We find that the FBI's continued attempts to obstruct justice in the Peltier case in order to protect their own reputation to be a disgrace. We urge those who view the site to express their concerns on its message board.
They decry agency's attempt to keep Clinton from pardoning activist
By Jessica McBride
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Peltier backers see FBI's lobbying as example of repression:
On Jan. 26, 1978, with a Milwaukee jury seemingly deadlocked in the attempted-murder trial of Indian activist Leonard Peltier, defense attorney Stephen Glynn learned that Circuit Judge Christ T. Seraphim wanted to declare a mistrial.
As Glynn recalls, the prosecutor announced he would not retry the case. For a criminal defense attorney, it was the best possible news, short of acquittal.
But Peltier told Glynn to seek counsel from Leonard Crow Dog, a Lakota Sioux medicine man who was one of thousands of people who came to Milwaukee to support Peltier. Crow Dog, who carried the sacred peace pipe of Sitting Bull, told Glynn to let the jury decide.
"Crow Dog said, 'Look, I don't think you understand,' " Glynn recalls.
" 'I know what is going to happen here. There will be two or three
electrical storms, with lightning, and then the jury will come back
with a not-guilty verdict.' I walked back to the courthouse and I
thought, 'This is going to turn on how many times lightning
That night, in the depth of winter, Glynn stood on his apartment balcony and watched "a lightning storm like I have never seen before." A few hours later, the jury was back with a not-guilty verdict after deliberating 11 hours.
The acquittal in Milwaukee was little more than an academic exercise, however. Eight months earlier, Peltier had been convicted in federal court in Fargo, N.D., of killing two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge, S.D., Sioux reservation in 1975, and was sentenced to life in prison.
More than two decades later, Peltier's conviction for the agents' murder remains the subject of heated debate, with supporters arguing his innocence. The movement to free him has become international and celebrity-studded.
Ranks of supporters have grown to include Hollywood celebrities such as actor Robert Redford - who made a documentary about him - and international groups such as Amnesty International, which regards him as a political prisoner. Peltier has been seen by some as the Nelson Mandela of the West.
As President Clinton considers invoking executive clemency for Peltier - a power he exercised last year in freeing a group of imprisoned Puerto Rican nationalists - the FBI has launched an extraordinary campaign to keep him behind bars. The agency sent letters to the Journal Sentinel and other publications around the country this week arguing against Peltier's release.
In the letter to the Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee FBI bureau chief David Williams wrote: "Clearly, the record has established Peltier's responsibility for the willful murders of the FBI agents and a continuing penchant for violent confrontations with law enforcement officers. Peltier should be required to serve the totality of his life sentence and never again be allowed to taste freedom."
Williams could not be reached Friday for further comment at the office.
There is an understanding among American Indians involved in the tumultuous activism of the 1970s that Leonard Peltier's fate could have belonged to any of them. They see his story as far bigger than the experiences of one man.
Many Indian people put Peltier's story into a broader framework of repression, brutality and struggle, a modern Indian war that the government has waged against their people. They see the FBI's letter-writing campaign to keep Peltier behind bars as merely the latest attempt to crush a movement to combat that repression.
"I think they (FBI officials) do not need another Richard Jewell," said Paul DeMain, publisher of News From Indian Country, a national publication based on Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Reservation near Hayward, Wis. (A letter from DeMain appears today on Page 11A.)
"They don't need another Waco, they don't need another Ruby Ridge and Leonard's case seems to me to encompass a little of all of this," DeMain said. "This is not an indictment of all agents. I have relatives who are law enforcement officials. This is an indictment against a handful of people I believe have staked their reputation on keeping Leonard in jail, period."
His supporters argue that he is innocent. At worst, they say, the case against him for killing the agents was flawed and unfair for a number of reasons, including the government's reliance on a mentally disturbed Indian woman who gave inconsistent testimony. Supporters also highlight an admission by the prosecutor on the case in 1985 that the government is not sure who killed the agents; governmental supporters argue that even if that's true, Peltier admits being there and firing at them.
DeMain believes that the FBI's PR blitz was initiated because of the growing pressure on Clinton for clemency. "Clinton's presidency is a lame duck presidency and it's coming to an end," DeMain said. "This is the longest-standing clemency request that ever sat on a president's desk."
He said that in recent months, Clinton has been approached by organizations representing tribal governments from Canada and the United States and that international pressure is even stronger, as Peltier was visited in recent months by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Rigoberta Menchu.
"Leonard is probably more famous than any other Native American, in other parts of the world," DeMain said.
Peltier's imprisonment stems from a confrontation in June 1975, when FBI agents Jack Coler and Renald Williams arrived at the South Dakota reservation to arrest another man for stealing a pair of cowboy boots. Prosecutors contended that the agents stopped a van in which Peltier and other activists were riding. A firefight erupted - perhaps involving as many as 47 people - and the agents' car was riddled with 125 bullets. Both agents were shot and killed; an Indian man named Joseph Stuntz was killed, as well.
The shootout occurred against a backdrop of violence at Pine Ridge that stretched back to the massacre of Indians at Wounded Knee in the late 1800s, and included the unsolved murders of more than 60 Indians between May 1973 and June 1975.
Peltier, in an interview with United Press International, once said: "We're at war. We're defending ourselves. I'm sorry those agents died but I'm also sorry my people died. I never killed nobody . . . I don't claim to be an American. I'm a citizen of my own country. The American people almost annihilated us. Whole tribes are gone. Their names are now forgotten."
Peltier himself, DeMain said, "was no angel." The movement called for rough times, he said. Peltier worked as a security enforcer and interrogated people he believed were FBI informants. "He did things that people would even today believe were repugnant," said DeMain.
Peltier was wanted on a warrant for not appearing in court on the Milwaukee case, which had involved a Nov. 22, 1972, confrontation with two off-duty Milwaukee police officers in a south side restaurant. Glynn says that the officers had used racial epithets against Peltier and that he pulled the gun, which was inoperable, in self-defense.
According to News From Indian Country and other written and online sources, Peltier was born in 1944 in Grand Forks, N.D., and was raised on the Turtle Mountain reservation there. He is of mixed Sioux, Chippewa and French heritage. He attended an Indian boarding school and found work as a welder and auto mechanic before being drawn to the fledgling American Indian Movement.
Vernon Bellecourt, a leader of the national AIM movement who lives in Minnesota, described Peltier as "typical of many young men and women who . . . came, stood up and were sincerely committed to serving their people."
Peltier walked into an AIM office Bellecourt ran in Denver. Pretty soon he was attending conferences and working on Indian issues. Like many in the movement, he moved from place to place, wherever Indians needed the assistance of AIM. He wound up in Milwaukee in the early 1970s, where an Oneida man, Herbert Powless, had founded AIM's third national chapter.
Powless recalls that he liked Peltier and offered him a job with the group. He became actively involved in the high-profile takeover of a novitiate in Gresham by the Menominee Warriors Society.
"Leonard became like a Legal Aid officer in my AIM office," Powless said. "He helped Indians who had wound up in the courts, if they needed help coordinating with the Legal Aid Society, or if some guy was in jail and needed to talk to his parents or family, or needed clothes, those types of activities. Leonard did all the runs."
Like many people who know him personally, Powless said: "I know he didn't kill those FBI men. It wasn't in his makeup. Leonard wasn't really a fighter. Most Indian guys who worked for me had been boxers. But Leonard was a kind, soft-hearted guy, and he had a personality and disposition that was not cruel."
Dorothy Ninhman, an Oneida woman who was married to Powless, mostly recalls how Peltier spent his time in Milwaukee being a surrogate father to his girlfriend's children. Over the years, Ninhman has remained close with him, frequently visiting him in prison, where he has spent his time as an artist painting traditional scenes.
"He's hopeful," she said of the possibility for clemency. "We've talked about it. He just thinks that when the time is right, the Creator will see to it that he's freed."
Glynn - who believes Peltier was set up in Milwaukee by the FBI and that he was under surveillance because of his activism - is less confident Clinton will act in his favor.
"I'm not real optimistic about things, although I think it would 100 percent be the right thing to do," Glynn said.
Then again, he added, he didn't believe that lightning would strike either.
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