"Someday They’ll Break From the Weight of Their Sins"
~ Silent Bear
On July 27, 2009, a parole hearing will be held for Leonard Peltier. Mr. Peltier has served 33 years in federal confinement for a crime I believe he did not commit. The preponderance of evidence supports my belief. Peltier’s last parole hearing was held in 1993.
Leonard Peltier is not in prison for killing the two Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Agents as is alleged, he has been incarcerated for 33 years because he belonged to a group (American Indian Movement) that dared to challenge the federal government and their lies. When one has the audacity to challenge the fedgov, he/she becomes a target for malicious prosecution, fabricated evidence, witness tampering and illegal imprisonment. Leonard Peltier has experienced all of these in the extreme.
AIM was founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1972, AIM staged a "Trail of Broken Treaties" march that terminated in Washington, D.C. They simply marched to demand a series of treaties that had been signed between various American Indian Tribes and the fedgov be honored. A revolutionary idea is it not to demand the fedgov honor its promises! The fedgov negotiated with AIM, not to honor the treaties, but to end their occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) building, which was rapidly becoming a major embarrassment for the government.
The fedgov promised to "look into AIM’s grievances." Like the previous treaties, this promise too was broken.
AIM quickly became the target of the FBI; the agency’s corrupt and illegal activities in this matter are well documented.
On June 26th, 1975, two FBI agents, supposedly in pursuit of a thief who had stolen a pair of boots, entered the Jumping Bull Ranch (private property) on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They were in civilian clothes, driving an unmarked car. This act in itself is suspicious, for the FBI is tasked with investigating felonies on Indian Reservations and their pursuit of someone who had stolen a pair of cowboy boots does not ring true. Most FBI agents consider themselves above pursuit of a common thief. Perhaps this was a ruse to check out members of AIM who were camped on the Jumping Bull Ranch.
There is no record of who fired the first shot, or why the firing started. A family with children reportedly yelled they were under attack and many present at the time rushed to their defense. When the shooting stopped, the two FBI agents and a young Indian laid dead. All were shot through the head. Ironically, there has never been an investigation into the murder of the young Indian.
In what, almost two decades later, would be seen at Ruby Ridge and Waco, the FBI surrounded the area with SWAT teams and agents. Reportedly, for the next few days FBI agents terrorized local residents with no-knock raids and home and property searches, all without warrants.
While there will be some who question my assertions of illegal activities by federal agents, I would suggest any who fall into that camp read this 10 part investigative article on federal law enforcement and prosecutorial misconduct. This quote from that article tells it all: "They lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas and convictions, a two-year Post-Gazette investigation found."
Without any corroborating evidence, warrants were quickly issued for Leonard Peltier, Darrelle "Dino" Butler, Bob Robideau and Jimmy Eagle for murder. Prosecutors would later drop the charges against Eagle when it was proved he was not even on the reservation the day of the shooting. Since no warrant shall issue without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, someone lied to obtain the warrant on Eagle. Why, then, should anyone believe the facts presented in the warrants for the other three?
Butler and Robideau would stand trial separately from Peltier because Peltier had fled to Canada. The FBI reverted to standard operating procedure (SOP) by demonizing the suspects before their trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Local authorities were told by the feds that large groups of AIM members/terrorists (they love that word) would be descending on the town. Employees in the Court House were told to prepare for shooting incidents and the seizing of hostages by marauding Indians.
The trial began on June 7, 1976 with Judge Edward McManus presiding. McManus, under vigorous objections of federal prosecutors, allowed a broad range of evidence to be introduced. Testimony was given concerning the "Reign of Terror" in and around Pine Ridge Reservation and the FBI’s tactics operating under their COINTELPRO directives.
During the trial, a federal witness admitted to being threatened into changing his testimony by FBI agents and to have provided testimony as instructed by those agents.
The jury returned a verdict of innocent, ruling there was no evidence shots fired by Butler and Robideau killed the two FBI agents and furthermore, their return fire was an act of self-defense.
Leonard Peltier was captured in Canada in 1976 and extradited to the US. The affidavit for extradition was one of three prepared by the FBI. In the affidavit finally filed with the Canadian government, focus was directed towards eyewitness statements from Myrtle Poor Bear, who claimed to have been Peltier’s girlfriend and present at the time of the shooting. It was necessary for the FBI to provide this testimony to the Canadian authorities, for it was their (Canada) legal position the FBI did not have enough evidence to warrant extradition.