Leonard Peltier was a leader of the American Indian Movement in 1976 when he was arrested and charged with the deaths of two FBI agents during a shootout at the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala-Lakota Nation. He has now been imprisoned for 34 years — one of the world’s longest-held political prisoners. Peltier sent the following message to an international teach-in held Feb. 13 in Philadelphia on the struggle to free death row inmate, journalist and former Black Panther Party activist Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Greetings, brothers and sisters, and thank you for attending this event to listen, learn, teach and organize. I am Leonard Peltier, a proud Lakota and Anishinabe American Indian activist, organizer and patriot. I am likewise, unfortunately, a fellow political prisoner in this “land of the free.”
I, along with my family, my supporters and American Indians everywhere know full well what the justice system of the United States can mean to the Brown man, the Black man, and any man or woman who dares to think or talk truth to power.
That we have been made targets in our own country should outrage every single man and woman everywhere, no matter the color, background or political leaning. That this country continues the barbaric practices of executions should be opposed by all people of conscience.
Whether or not you approve of capital punishment is irrelevant as long as minorities are executed with alarming disparities. Whether you approve or not is of secondary concern when people like Mumia Abu Jamal, myself and many others are convicted and sentenced to die with evidence that would exonerate ‘most any white man. As such, every single progressive organization should oppose the death penalty as we now know it.
That we have been made targets in our own country should outrage every single man and woman everywhere, no matter the color, background or political leaning. … (But) as long as you are willing to work for justice, all political prisoners can still hope for freedom.
This has not been a case of justice or the law, it has been politics, racism and control, and we should confront these issues long before we decide who to execute. As long as we have these inequities in our midst, we will continue to convict and execute innocents. Execute – let’s call it what it really is – state sanctioned murder! Why does America allow this brand of “justice” to exist?
That is a question that must haunt the soul of every true American patriot. For as long as it does, America can never be the bastion of freedom it has claimed to be, the light in the darkness it wants to be, nor the high ground of morality it hopes to be.
Pay attention to the names this government uses when it is opposed. The American government has called other countries “evil empire” and “axis of evil.” The rest of the world hears this and scoffs!
Why? Because they see this country convicting, imprisoning and executing innocent minorities and political liabilities while claiming to be a free society, because they see corporate personhood allowing the rape of the Earth and desecration of the sacred, because they see this country waging illegal war while claiming to love peace, and because they see this country propping up murderous dictators while giving lip service to human rights. The rest of the world sees all of this and wonders, is not America the real evil empire?
I, like Mumia, have been called a terrorist by my own government. Well, I never knew a terrorist who advocated the rule of law as we have. Some people need to find a new dictionary!
There may be other parts of the world which are breeding grounds for terrorism, but this government makes sure they have fertile ground to harvest. We are not the terrorists! I love my country. Progressive thinking people love this country. It is thusly our patriotic duty to respond to such government with righteous indignation! It is only when we allow a corrupt government to corrupt our very minds that a patriot becomes a terrorist!
As long as you are willing to work for justice, all political prisoners can still hope for freedom. Real power starts from the bottom and goes up, not the other way around. Free Mumia!
Word was received on Feb. 25 that Leonard Peltier’s parole denial appeal was rejected. He is not scheduled to go before the Parole Board again for 15 years, when he will be 80 years old. Because he is in very bad health, the parole denial is a death sentence. Supporters are urged to appeal to the White House on the Comment Line at (202) 456-1111 or (202) 456-1112, by email at www.whitehouse.gov/contact/, by mail to President Barack Obama, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, DC 20500 or by fax to (202) 456-2461.
Send our brother some love and light. Write to Leonard Peltier, 89637-132, USP Lewisburg, US Penitentiary, P.O. Box 1000, Lewisburg, PA 17837. Learn more at www.whoisleonardpeltier.info.