“Friends of Peltier” recently released a well-made YouTube video entitled “Time for you to stand up for Leonard Peltier.” It featured a number of people, young and old, Native American and not, known and unknown, famous and infamous, all offering a chorus of “I will” and “We will” lend support to encourage executive clemency for Leonard Peltier. (Footnote #1)
Some, without doubt, are sincere in their belief in Peltier’s innocence, or at least that he has served enough time for his crimes; others have their own agendas.
There’s no appearance in the video, but in a voice-over Peltier says:
“I am, of course, I’m very sorry for the lives that were lost. I’m grateful if the President would give me clemency. I’m grateful if he would give me justice, give my people justice.”
Thomas Poor Bear continues with “a firefight erupted” mentioning that three were killed and that prayers are offered for their families.
Thomas is dead wrong, (no pun intended), that “a firefight erupted.” We know exactly how things started and developed that day from one of the victims. Those in the FBI’s Rapid City office, and others, heard Ron Williams on the radio describing that in the vehicle they followed - they were stopping, they were getting out, it looks like they’re going to shoot; and the shooting started. Ron then tries to describe where they are and if help doesn’t get there soon they would be dead. Those listening hear him call out that he had been shot. The crime scene photos tell the end of the story. Two dead FBI agents with their faces blown away laying face down in the dirt. Facedown meant that they were touched and moved. Were the “brave warriors” that day counting coup?
Thomas is kind to offer thoughts and prayers for the three, as there should be empathy for the Stuntz family. But what did he do that day? Through Peltier’s actions and foolish leadership Stuntz apparently believed it was acceptable to shoot at two FBI agents pinned down in an open field. Stuntz also felt it was right—and gave Peltier a smile, when he stole the FBI raid jacket from the trunk of the dead agent’s vehicle. Stuntz apparently believed it was meaningful to shoot at agents and officers who were responding to Jumping Bull; until an officer shot him. If there is remaining anger in the Stuntz family over his death it should be directed towards Peltier. Stuntz’s death lies squarely in the hands of Leonard Peltier. Stuntz followed Peltier to his own death.
This is what has been expected from those who support Peltier, a continuing message with much obsession and lacking fundamental facts that perpetuate the decades old myth that Peltier was the last Indian standing to be prosecuted for the brutal murder of Agents’ Coler and Williams at Jumping Bull, and worse yet, that his actions that day, along with other American Indian Movement members, are somehow removed from the criminal acts and linked to a storied heritage that Peltier has hijacked and adulterated since June 26, 1975. It’s essential to the folklore scenario to keep supporters away from the facts and divert their attention to the notion that somehow Peltier represents and did this, for “his people.” Nonsense.
Those in the video (excluding the children*), along with the overwhelming number of those who support Peltier, can be divided into two distinct groups; 1) Those who do not know, and, 2) Those who do not care, about the facts.
Let us not forget as well that the vast majority of Native America does not support Peltier, his criminal actions, and those committed by AIM. They recognize that Peltier and AIM contributed nothing to the betterment of their society. Perpetuating the myth does a disservice to Native American culture and history; the AIM and Peltier legacies are a dark and disturbing chapter that is acknowledged and recognized by many.
A few questions need to be asked of those who support Peltier and appear in this video:
- Was Peltier lawfully extradited from Canada?
The answer is yes. So says the Canadian government. “…I have concluded that Mr. Peltier was lawfully extradited to the United States.” (Fn. 4)
- Did Peltier receive a fair trail?
Aside from receiving years of intense scrutiny that has upheld his conviction, the answer comes from someone who actually later wrote letters in support of Peltier. Judge Gerald Heaney (may he rest in peace), Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, three times (1984, 1986, 2002), denied Peltier’s appeals based on the facts and the law.
In his impassioned April 8, 1991 letter, Judge Heaney never suggested or implied that Peltier was innocent. To the contrary he stated “No new evidence has been called to my attention which would cause me to change the conclusion reached in that case…” and "…the record persuades me that more than one person was involved in the shooting of the FBI agents. Again, this fact is not a legal justification for Peltier's actions, but is a mitigating circumstance." (Fn. 5)
(Whom else Judge Heaney may have alluded to obviously and logically points to Dino Butler, Bob Robideau and other AIM members.)
Also, in the fatally flawed and factually inaccurate 1992, 60-Minutes segment, Steve Kroft asked if Peltier received a fair trial to which Judge Heaney replied, “I believe he got a fair trial. Not a perfect trial, but a fair trial.” (Fn. 6)
Kroft then followed with criticism about the Myrtle Poor Bear affidavits.
But the final word, and a vital piece of the Peltier saga occurred during Peltier’s own trial. When Peltier’s defense team believed the government could call Myrtle Poor Bear as a witness, Peltier’s own attorney stated on the record and characterized her as a “…witness whose mental imbalance is so gross as to render her testimony unbelievable.” Peltier wants to, but cannot have it both ways. He cannot use Poor Bear’s affidavits as the excuse for an alleged illegal extradition from Canada and then demean her and prevent testimony that would have supported his allegations of a wrongful extradition. (And, apologies to Thomas if Myrtle is a relative.) (Fn. 7)
Peltier’s factual guilt beyond a reasonable doubt has been well established (for those who take the time and effort to review and understand it), but it has been his public proclamations - which have all the weight of the testimony we never heard from him, that establish much more, his actual guilt to a moral certainty. A few examples:
- Mr.X: If Peltier was innocent then why for the better part of twenty years did he (and Robideau and the LPDC and the LPDOC, etc.) claim that someone they all knew killed the agents and drove off in the infamous red pickup? Have all those in the video not heard the elaborate description in Redford’s, Incident at Oglala, where Peltier says “This story is true.” Well, it wasn’t, as has been proven time and again and even admitted as much by Dino Butler and one of Peltier’s own attorneys. So why the phony alibi? Why the elaborate hoax? Reason would dictate that a truly innocent person would be able to consistently repeat the same story. Peltier’s version has changed too many times.
- Looking back Peltier has no difficulty framing why he remains in prison. On February 6, 2010 he stated; “I never thought my commitment would mean sacrificing like this, but I was willing to do so nonetheless. And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.” In the context of this statement, referring as he did to Jumping Bull and Joe Stuntz, not excluding anything and making no exceptions, this is tantamount to a confession for the murders of Agents’ Coler and Williams. (Fn. 9)
- On August 28, 2014 Peltier stated in a public message, “I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” Can this be made any clearer for those who proclaim, “I will,” and “We will?” How do those who look at Peltier as a victim justify a statement like that? For those who are thoroughly confused and buy into the fable of Peltier the warrior, then to some it’s justifiable to murder federal agents. There’s something to be said about that kind of mentality and none of it is good. But here’s where the confusion lies, lost in the clatter surrounding Native American history they have picked a fraudulent symbol to correct any of those wrongs. (Fn. 10)
The “We will” video is all passion with no substance and ignores, deliberately to Peltier’s delight, the truth, because, facts matter. The smiling faces touting “I will” and “We will” are being scammed and they don’t even realize it. The truth they miss gets lost in the noise of the folklore, peddling to the softhearted with efforts to keep everyone’s eyes off Jumping Bull and June 26, 1975. Being “very sorry” is shallow and does not negate Peltier’s complicity.
As a minor point all have forgotten, here’s the reminder of Peltier’s disrespect and ingratitude to the political process when in 2000 he was not granted clemency, he stated, “These politicians are such sleazebags that you just don’t know.” (Fn. 11)
“Will we?” Yes, certainly as we have and will continue to do; ensure that the President, Attorney General and the USDOJ Pardon Attorney know what Peltier has said and that he remains a remorseless and unrepentant murderer who will continue his consecutive life sentences and the seven consecutive years for the armed escape from Lompoc.
Peltier should be afforded the same measure of mercy he gave Jack Coler and Ron Williams. And that would be none.
Here is the video that shows how the story should be told https://vimeo.com/74140239
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
(To all: Best for the holiday season to everyone and for a healthy and happy New Year.)
2) “Just after noon” http://www.noparolepeltier.com/noon.html
3) Leonard Peltier: “I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and I looked at him when he put it on, and he gave me a smile.” Peter Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse (Penguin Books, 1992) 552
4) Canadian Minister of Justice letter: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/canadaletter.html
5) Judge Heaney letter: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/heaney.html
6) Kroft 60 Minutes segment: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xc9ofu_leonard-peltier-with-steve-kroft_news
7) See court decision at II.B.2.i: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/585.html
8) Mr. X http://www.noparolepeltier.com/lie.html, http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2012/12/peltier-kuzma-closes-circle-much-more.html,
9) Peltier would go it again: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/debate.html#confession,
10) No regrets: http://wwwnoparolepeltiercom-justice.blogspot.com/2014/11/peltier-not-for-minute.html
11) Peltier calls President Clinton and politicians, sleazebags: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/speak.html
12) One of a number of letters regarding clemency and Peltier: http://www.noparolepeltier.com/obama.pdf
* Using children in such a way does them a disservice. Certainly, Native American children should be encouraged to embrace their proud and storied heritage and learn of the treatment their ancestors had to endure. They are too young, however, to understand the implications of their smiling endorsement of Peltier. The non-native adults are leading their children down a dangerous path by reinforcing - indoctrinating them without their full understanding - that killing law enforcement in the performance of their duties is something to celebrate. Shame on them for that.