P.O. Box 54667
Cincinnati, Ohio 45245-0667
January 27, 2014
Professor James AnayaU.N. Special Rapporteur
University of Arizona, James E. Rogers College of Law
1201 E. Speedway Blvd., PO Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721
Re: Leonard Peltier“Political prisoner”
Please allow me to respond to your recent contact with Leonard Peltier and the press release describing your visit.
The press release stated, “Every piece of evidence to convict Mr. Peltier has been since proven false.” This statement is fatally flawed.
As you no doubt understand, the Peltier matter has been examined—under the proverbial microscope—for nearly four decades and has withstood every legal test. There have been no Constitutional violations, otherwise there would be no discussion regarding Leonard Peltier today.
As a Harvard educated attorney, and given your commendable accomplishments in support of Indigenous peoples, the facts and details of Peltier’s conviction and appeals should be a critical priority. Going beyond the myth and folklore that has surrounded Peltier, fabrications that have adulterated what really happened that June day, is crucial to understanding his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The facts are clear and convincing for those who care to examine the essential details of his conviction.
Beyond his conviction, Peltier himself has reinforced his actual guilt beyond a moral certainty. An innocent man would not have offered many false alibis; for instance, the two-decade-long pretext that a phantom Mr. X killed the agents, a claim disavowed by one of those personally involved and as late as last year by one of his own attorneys.
The overwhelming majority of Native Americans, especially the older generation, recognize that AIM’s activities during the seventies and beyond contributed nothing to the betterment of the Native American experience.
AIM’s sordid history of greed, destruction and manipulation is self-evident and common knowledge. This includes those AIM members and Leonard Peltier’s criminal actions at Jumping Bull that infamous day.
Many erroneously consider Peltier a political prisoner. If that were so then the events of June 26, 1975 would have, by necessity, assumed an entirely different meaning. Agents’ Coler and Williams were attacked, gravely wounded and then murdered. Or, as if some suggest this was an act of Political defiance by Peltier and other AIM members, then instead it would have been a deliberate ambush and an assassination. The facts do not support that premise. It was solely the act of cowardly criminals.
As someone with your experience, how do we reconcile Peltier as a political prisoner and allegedly innocent of the crimes that put him in Coleman, when he had this to say about what happened at Jumping Bull:
“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,” Leonard remembers. “I didn’t think nothing of it at the time; all I could think of was, we got to get out of here.” (Spirit of Crazy Horse, P.552).
So picture this if you will, Joe Stuntz takes Agent Coler’s FBI jacket from the trunk of his Bureau vehicle, puts it on, and gives Peltier a smile. Meanwhile, at their feet are too dead human beings who were first attacked and mortally wounded and lay there with their faces destroyed as Peltier and the others ransacked the vehicles and stole the agents’ weapons.
Peltier needs not be remorseful about his crimes but he has gone much further. Not taking his statement out of context, he said, “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. (Public statement February 6, 2010.) And there is much more.
Peltier, and those who support him, have succeeded in creating the myth of a brave warrior fighting for his people when the exact opposite is true. He has hijacked and diminished an otherwise proud Native history and culture for his own personal aggrandizement and self-interest.
I would welcome the opportunity to further discuss the Peltier matter with you.
There are many deserving of leniency and consideration; Leonard Peltier is not one of them.
Edw. WoodsEdward Woods