Leonard Peltier Will Remain In Prison

Peace Advocate July 2024

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By Craig Simpson

The Federal Parole Commission has denied Leonard Peltier parole.

Tuesday July 2 the FPC dismissed  the evidence of his declining health- Diabetes, hypertension, partial blindness from a stroke, despite his nonviolent record in the prison, and bouts of COVID, his age- 80; is one of America’s longest serving political prisoners- with over 50. He will be 94 at the next parole hearing. It is an outrage. People around the world have sent letters of appeal including faith leaders, human rights groups, and lawmakers from around the US and the world.


Peltier was part of the American Indian Movement encampment on Pine Ridge during the worst government violence against activist Native Americans in the era following the occupation of Wounded Knee. On June 26 1975, two FBI agents drove into the encampment  preparing to fight. They were following a suspicious car. A firefight broke out between camp occupants and the FBI. AIM activists and camp occupants escaped before additional armed forces came to defend the agents. The two FBI agents lay dead when the smoke cleared. There were no witnesses to the killings. Much of the evidence gun evidence was contradictory and inconclusive. Two of three people activists accused of the murder were found not guilty. Leonard Pelteir was in Canada and later extradited to the US was later found guilty of the murders. Leonard admitted to being in the encampment but denied having participated in the murders. He was found guilty and given two life sentences.


During this period the American Indian Movement was targeted for extinction by the FBI and other secret agencies, like the Black Panthers and Brown Berets and Young Lords.The FBI infiltrated these groups and worked to set up murders and provoke violence. Right wing thugs hired by the reactionary tribal council roamed the Pine Ridge Reservation terrorizing anyone sympathetic to AIM. Many innocent people were murdered or disappeared. Leonard was arrested in this atmosphere so long ago. 


Many convicted murderers have been released from prison after long sentences but the FBI and its associated organizations lobbied to keep Leonard in jail. It is an outrage that he has been in prison so long.


He has become known by Native people throughout the country for standing up for their rights. Not all Indigenous people support Leonard. They accuse Leonard of many things he was not arrested for. AIM and the AIM activists came from the residential schools, prisons, and terrible racist welfare system. Leonard was not perfect but he is old now and should be sent home. President Biden could pardon him now– but politically everything is stacked against Leonard and parole. He is 80 and is still a political threat to some people. He needs to be released. Keep writing those letters and cards.


-Craig Simpson is a member of MAPA’s Indigenous Solidarity Action Group.