Statement von Chase Iron Eyes vom Lakota Peoples Law Project zur Free Peltier Aktion in Washington DC
I’ve just returned from a productive, week-long trip in Washington, D.C. At the behest of Carol Gokee, president of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, I joined people from around the nation in taking action to raise awareness about Leonard’s imprisonment, in hopes that he’s eventually freed. I encourage you to watch a speech I gave on a Black Voters Matter stage in D.C., in which I express our solidarity for all political prisoners everywhere.
Watch: I talk to the crowd about Leonard from the Black Voters Matter stage in D.C.
The events in the capital were scheduled around this past Saturday, which marked the 46-year anniversary of the shooting deaths of two FBI agents at Pine Ridge, for which Leonard was falsely convicted and sentenced in 1977. I have met with Leonard — an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe and an original American Indian Movement activist who fought hard to combat racism and police brutality. I visited him in Coleman, FL, at the federal prison where he has been incarcerated for more than 43 years. He is a good man. The movement to free Leonard is strong, and people showed up from all around the U.S. this past weekend. Though President Obama denied his petition for clemency in 2017, the list of those who have voiced support for Leonard’s freedom includes the Dalai Lama, Mother Teresa, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela, and Amnesty International. 55 members of Congress and counting have also called for his clemency, as has our first Indigenous U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. After Robert Redford visited Leonard in prison, he made the powerful documentary “Incident at Oglala — the Leonard Peltier Story,” which I strongly recommend you watch, if you have not already done so.
It’s a grave miscarriage of justice that Leonard remains behind bars, even after the FBI admitted that nobody knows who actually killed the agents. And it’s not right that Leonard was never allowed to present evidence about 57 unsolved murders of Native people at Pine Ridge, a true reign of terror against AIM during the early 1970s. That’s why I and Lakota Law will continue to work with a diverse coalition of partners — including Carol and her committee, Leonard’s lead counsel, Kevin Sharp, and AIM activist Jean Roach — to ensure we’re doing everything possible to get him out.
Wopila tanka — thank you for standing with us for fairness!
Chase Iron Eyes
Co-Director and Lead Counsel
The Lakota People’s Law Project