the last 26 years Native American activist Leonard Peltier, a member of
the North Dakota Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribe, has been sitting in
prison for the killing of two FBI agents.
recent ruling by a Philadelphia judge that Mr. Abu-Jamal�s death
sentence should be converted to life in prison gives Mr. Peltier hope.
feels good for Mumia,� Debra Peebles, director of the Leonard Peltier
Legal Defense Fund, told The Final Call.
by telephone from her Kansas office, she explained that Mr. Peltier
believes that the Mumia ruling will energize his (Peltier) supporters.
�What we are asking for is a fair examination of the facts,� she added.
November, attorney Eric Seitz, who represented Mr. Peltier at his last
appeal hearing, filed a motion to reduce the activist�s life sentences
from consecutive to concurrent. The attorney argued that the judge who
presided over the trial was misled by unreliable evidence that Leonard
Peltier had fired the fatal shots that killed the agents.
court views this present motion favorably and Mr. Peltier�s life
sentences are run concurrently, he will have served enough time to be
released, according to his supporters, even though they maintain his
27, 1975, the theft of a pair of cowboy boots led agents Jack Coler and
Ron Williams to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. A gunfight
ensued, American Indian Movement member Joe Stunz and the two agents
were found shot.
were arrested, three were let go, but Leonard Peltier was found guilty
and given two life sentences.
was hope that former President Bill Clinton would pardon Mr. Peltier.
Thousands demonstrated around the world on Dec. 10, 2000, but to no
avail. Mr. Peltier�s supporters have accused the government and the FBI
of �politicizing� the meaning of clemency for Leonard Peltier. The FBI
says that supporting clemency for Leonard Peltier is a vote against the
federal agency, observers say.
the government now admits that he [Peltier] never received a fair
trial,� said former California Congressman Don Edwards, who also is a
former FBI agent, speaking at the National Press Club in Washington,
D.C., on Dec. 14, 2000. �I wish to speak out strongly about the FBI�s
efforts in opposing the clemency appeal of Leonard Peltier,� he said,
hoping to help influence Mr. Clinton�s decision to grant clemency.
that the FBI continues to deny its improper conduct on Pine Ridge during
the 1970s and during the trial.
Peebles explained that funding is the biggest obstacle facing their
first time we will have to pay for a lawyer,� she said.