Freedom fighter Leonard Peltier sits in prison today, 36 years after being framed in connection with the incident at Oglala. He is still defiant, projecting the dignity and pride of a man whose only crime was to stand up in defense of his people.
Leonard was accused of aiding and abetting in connection with the killing of two FBI agents on June 26, 1975. These charges have never been proven. His trial was a mockery of justice. Tens of thousands of pages of evidence were never even shared with the defense team. Witnesses were coerced and later recanted their testimony and physical evidence was manufactured. Even the Judge and prosecutor in the case have since made statements asserting that Peltier was not responsible for the agents’ deaths.
Peltier’s real "crime," in the eyes of the government, is that he was born Native American and stood up to the state repression that was being inflicted on the people of the Pine Ridge reservation. During the two years leading up to the 1975 Oglala shooting, 65 Native Americans were murdered either by shootings or beatings. Not one has been investigated to this day.
Torture and intimidation were part of daily life on the reservation, carried out by either the FBI or BIA (Bureau of Indians Affairs). The American Indian Movement, an organization inspired by the broader revolutionary movement of the era and the Black Panthers in particular, fought back and its members became primary targets.
The injustice of his conviction led to the creation of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, demanding his release or minimally a retrial. The group has brought together a broad movement of progressive people and organizations, and has worked tirelessly for decades, raising money for lawyers, widening the movement and protesting in the streets. Although his appeals have been unjustly denied, his supporters, inspired by the example Peltier himself sets from within the prison walls, will never give up.
The Defense Committee now has branches around the world and Peltier is known in many countries as “the Nelson Mandela of America.”
The PSL joins with people all across the world in demanding: Free Leonard Peltier and all political prisoners!