Convicted in connection with the deaths on June 26, 1975, of Ronald Williams and Jack Coler, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Leonard Peltier remains imprisoned at the United States Penitentiary in Coleman, Florida, despite proof that he was convicted on the basis of fabricated and suppressed evidence, as well as coerced testimony. In fact, the court record clearly shows that government prosecutors have long held that they do not know who killed Mr. Coler and Mr. Williams and, according to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals: "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed." In spite of these facts, Mr. Peltier has served more than 30 years in prison.
After careful consideration of the facts in Mr. Peltier's case, we have concluded that Leonard Peltier does not represent a risk to the public. First, Mr. Peltier has no prior convictions and has advocated for non-violence throughout his prison term. Furthermore, Mr. Peltier has been a model prisoner. He has received excellent evaluations from his work supervisors on a regular basis. He continues to mentor young Native prisoners, encouraging them to lead clean and sober lives. He has used his time productively, disciplining himself to be a talented painter and an expressive writer. Although Mr. Peltier maintains that he did not kill the agents, he has openly expressed remorse and sadness over their deaths.
Most admirably, Mr. Peltier contributes regular support to those in need. He donates his paintings to charities including battered women's shelters, half way houses, alcohol and drug treatment programs, and Native American scholarship funds. He also coordinates an annual gift drive for the children of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation -- a successful program that, in 2006, expanded to include other reservations throughout the country. Leonard Peltier is widely recognized in the human rights community for his good deeds and in turn has won several human rights awards including the North Star Frederick Douglas Award; Federation of Labour (Ontario, Canada) Humanist of the Year Award; Human Rights Commission of Spain International Human Rights Prize; 2004 Silver Arrow Award for Lifetime Achievement; and 2009 Red Nation Humanitarian Award. Mr. Peltier also has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize six times.
Mr. Peltier is now over 60 years of age -- a great-grandfather -- and suffers from partial blindness, diabetes, a heart condition, and high blood pressure. Rather than presenting a threat to the public, Mr. Peltier's release would help to heal a wound that has long impeded better relations between the federal government and American Indians. Mr. Peltier deserves to be reunited with his family and allowed to live the remaining years of his life in peace.
We, the undersigned, support justice and human rights for all people of all nations; recognize that the U.S. courts, by their decisions, have recognized the undisputed misconduct in Peltier's case, yet have failed to take corrective action; determine the U.S. government's handling of the Peltier case as a clear abuse of the legal standards of American justice; and do hereby call for justice for Leonard Peltier in the form of an immediate grant of parole.
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