Chair Grijalva, 10 other members send a letter to President Biden, DOJ, pleading for mercy on indigenous activist Leonard Peltier | news
WASHINGTON, DC – Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) Along with 10 other House Representatives sent a letter to President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing the expedited release and pardon of the American Indian Movement activist, Leonard Peltier, challenged. The letter is available at https://bit.ly/3DsQ5KD.
Mr. Peltier, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, was arrested in connection with the 1977 murders of two Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, South Dakota. After a trial of evidence and procedural issues, Mr. Peltier was sentenced to two life sentences.
As the authors of the letter note, Mr. Peltier’s trial included “a critical alleged eyewitness who later withdrew her testimony and admitted that the FBI threatened her” and revelations following a 1980 Freedom of Information Act ruling that “the public prosecutor’s office” withheld documented evidence that could have helped Mr. Peltier’s case. ”
Despite these human rights violations, Mr. Peltier was never given a fair retrial. He is currently housed in the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Florida and has served in federal prison for more than 43 years. The 77-year-old has serious health problems such as diabetes and an abdominal aortic aneurysm.
As an indigenous rights activist, Mr. Peltier worked to raise awareness of systemic problems faced by American Indian and Native American communities in the 1970s, including federal treaty violations, discrimination and police brutality.
Individuals and groups who have called for Mr. Peltier’s release include Amnesty International, the National Congress of American Indians, the late Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, and others United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rigoberta Menchú, seven other Nobel Peace Prize winners, Rage Against the Machine, Pete Seeger, Carlos Santana, Harry Belafonte, Gloria Steinem and Robert Redford.
A petition demanding his release recently garnered more than 275,000 signatures. Even former US Attorney James H. Reynolds, who oversaw the original conviction of Mr. Peltier, has written to ask President Biden for mercy on Mr. Peltier. Last year, Chairwoman Grijalva, together with then MP Deb Haaland, who is now Interior Minister, co-chaired a similar letter of grace.
The full list of signatories includes:
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Representative Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL)
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO)
Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO)
Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA)
Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM)
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN)
Representative Melanie Stansbury (D-NM)