1) Lewisburg Penitentiary; July 28, 2009; Peltier parole hearing:
Sometime after Peltier’s parole denial he wrote a letter to a rabid supporter and bragged about what a tough guy he was during the hearing and claimed to have intimidated one of the witnesses. “I seen in his eyes even for the brief second he dared and forced himself to look at me total fear in his eyes. I’m not shitting you…this guy had fear in his eyes.”
Peltier, in his jailhouse bluster, was pretending to intimidate one of the other witnesses. However, what he actually did was stare lamely at his prison sneakers, which could not have been easy because there was this huge mass in the way. He sat there knowing he was getting severely trounced with a mountain of evidence against him and a marginal attorney to his right.
I never gave it a second thought when I sat next to him, not to even acknowledging his presence, which I didn’t. I wasn’t there for Peltier anyway; I was there for two guys named Jack and Ron.
But let’s look at a few other things the tough guy had to say:
“A cold chill ran up the back of my neck when we drove past the long, long eighteen-foot-high wall and then up to the front entranceway of Leavenworth.” “Suddenly your mind plays tricks on you and it’s as if you hear your spirit telling you to run, to not go there, and then the fear rushes on you almost unbearably, your knees grow week, you feel as if you’re going to wet your pants, you feel like crying, call out for help. I had a barely resistible urge to turn to the marshals and plead with them, beg them not to take me in that place. I’m sure, if I had, my voice would have cracked and I would have broken down in tears.” (Prison Writings, p.154-155)
Cold chill, urge to run, unbearable fear, weak-kneed, urinating, crying, tears; that’s more like it, and far indeed from when Peltier’s pointing a weapon at a severely wounded human being.
Excepts from Editorial Essay, “Mission to Lewisburg:”
“…Admittedly, I was nervous, not because Peltier was present but because there was so much at stake. I would have preferred to debate the issue rather than just make a presentation that I felt was rushed. I didn't want to take any more time than necessary away from the other witnesses and wanted to verbally present the reasons why Peltier has not earned the right for release; instead, I read most of the prepared talking points and added additional comments.”
“It was interesting though that when my testimony was finished, knowing full-well that Leonard Peltier was painfully aware of how much the NPPA had been in his face for the past nine years, that I was the only one he acknowledged. After thanking the hearing officer I got up and headed for the door when I heard something behind me. I couldn't tell if it was, "Hey Ed," or "Agent Woods," but I turned and saw Leonard smiling and waving goodbye. Perhaps it was his half-hearted attempt at humor or sarcasm. It didn't matter. I waved back, "Take it easy Leonard…"
“With certainty, Ron Williams, in his final moments did not face the same Leonard Peltier I met at the parole hearing. The angry Leonard Peltier at Jumping Bull, much younger and stronger, was not the same bloated figure in the Lewisburg hearing room. Perhaps Peltier is no longer the direct danger to society that he was in 1975, but that does not lessen his crime. Making the fateful decision to murder the agents that day carried with it the responsibility of a lifetime…”
2) Peltier’s First Escape Plan: Part 1
First, a little Peltier history and folklore; July 20th 1979, Lompoc Penitentiary, California:
Peltier tells us that he had been alerted to a government plot to assassinate him, first possibly at Leavenworth then following him with his transfer to Lompoc. “My days at Lompoc were definitely numbered. Unless I wanted to wake up dead one morning soon, I had no choice but to make a break for it. Of course, they really wanted me to try to escape. That would make killing me both convenient and totally justifiable. Still, in retrospect, I deeply regret trying. It was a setup and I fell for it. (Prison Writings, p.165-168)”
Peltier doesn’t explain how it’s possible to “wake up dead.” Logic would dictate that you simply wouldn’t wake up at all. But he offers a dual-scenario, a conundrum that serves his purpose either way to justify an armed escape. Either there was an assassination plot or there wasn’t, or they just wanted him to think there was as an excuse to kill him during an attempt. Brilliant, the folklore works either way.
But then there must be a third element to the plot that Peltier wants us to ignore, which is better explained by Matthiessen: “His shots (a prison guard’s) were answered by what turned out to be diversionary fire from outside persons who had positioned themselves near the northeast corner of the prison, where a service road ran along a tree line; one of these people gave a Mini-14 rifle to Peltier as he ran past. (ITSOCH p. 384)” And, when arrested, “Although equipped with a rifle, binoculars, and maps, (Peltier) seemed very tired and disoriented after travelling without food for five long days. (ITOSH p. 392)”
Note Matthiessen’s description, no doubt coming from Peltier himself; “person(s),” and “these people.”
“On February 4, 1980, Peltier was acquitted of conspiracy and assault and was sentenced to five years for escape plus two years for possession of a weapon by a felon; the seven years were added on to his two consecutive life terms. (ITSOCH, p. 400)”
Odd though, with all those “persons and people” involved, Peltier was acquitted of the conspiracy charge.
This blog will end with a question for Leonard Peltier, which he will receive, via the U.S. Mail at Coleman 1, as he always has:
Have you ever planned another escape from prison when there wasn’t this mythical assassin lurking about between the cellblocks?
Peltier is challenged to answer this question. He certainly can bloviate and play the tough guy with his handful of mindless followers, but will he step up to the plate when someone gets in his face.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”