Before U.S.P. Coleman inmate #89637-132 gets too excited and giddy that his name was mentioned in a Huffington blog, let’s examine what the author, Jack Healy, didn’t say and why he’s selected the wrong person to promote his cause. (Footnote #1)
With all due respect to Mr. Healy’s lifelong quest for human rights, and notwithstanding his apparent disdain and bias towards the U.S. government, he has fallen prey, become a victim himself, to the perpetual mountain of myths, folklore, lies and fabrications that have festered around Peltier for the past four decades. His energy and intellect are woefully misplaced and promoting the myth, not the reality.
Most, and certainly not this writer, would argue against or fail to recognize the crippling history against First Americans. We can neither deny nor ignore what happened and that, as Mr. Healy points out (excluding the casino-rich tribes), the majority of Native Americans need and deserve our respect and support, not just for the injustices of the past but the condition many still find themselves in today. Pine Ridge being a glaring and shameful example. (Fn. 2)
But Mr. Healy calls for clemency for Peltier as if that would somehow heal the wounds and correct those historic wrongs. He could be no further from the truth and the heart of the matter as he shamefully references the deaths of FBI Agents Coler and Williams.
Mr. Healy alludes to Peltier’s trial and “…many legal flaws…” At least Mr. Healy didn’t pander the usual Peltier tripe of “Constitutional violations.” This case has been scrutinized perhaps to a greater extent than death-row inmates. “Legal flaws” may be a euphemistic pretense for Mr. Healy but he cannot ignore the scores of attorneys who have torn apart every crevice of his conviction, and except for one (ballistics) hearing (for which Peltier’s attorneys offered no contrary evidence, even though they had their own expert in the courtroom), Peltier’s conviction and sentence has withstood the legal test of time and never altered. Perhaps, Mr. Healey should invest the time and energy to understand the details of this case and not the mythology pandered by Peltier and his sycophants. (Fn. 3)
Without an ongoing dialogue—that this writer would welcome—there is no way of knowing exactly how much of the Peltier fables Mr. Healy has accepted as fact, but for illustration sake let’s assume he has accepted at least a good portion and provide just a handful of explicit examples to keep the record straight.
For example, Mr. Healy wrongly states “…even his extradition to the United States from Canada was based on premises that were actively manipulated by the federal authorities.” There were challenges and questions regarding the use of the Myrtle Poor Bear affidavits, however, that was not the only justification for Peltier’s extradition. Perhaps simply reading the crucial October 12, 1999 letter (a full twenty-four years--after--the murder of the agents) from the Minister of Justice to U.S. Attorney General, Janet Reno where it states, “As I indicated above, I have concluded that Mr. Peltier was lawfully extradited to the united States” will clarify the misinformation from the Peltier camp and spouted by Mr. Healy. (Fn. 4)
Sophomorically referencing the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Black Panther Party (BPP) as “…dissident groups in the United States,” as Mr. Healy does, is to ignore the reality of the destruction and chaos these groups caused. They were never simply social protesters but gangland style thugs who left a wake of social disruption and sometimes murder in their wake. Ask the widows of the police officers that fell victim to the BPP and research the destruction, under the guise of Native Rights, that AIM befell on Wounded Knee II, destroying a village and terrifying the innocent residents. Ask too, the family of Perry Ray Robinson, an AIM victim, whether AIM was just a “dissident group.” Dig further as well into the other AIM related bodies still hidden and buried in the hills surrounding that leveled hamlet (Fn. 5)
Mr. Healy does not comprehend that a truly innocent person need not offer a list of alibis, contradictory at their core, to push his feigned innocence on the non-believers. His fabrications have been as transparent as glass, starting with the twenty-year-lie that someone they all knew, Mr. X., killed the agents. So pervasive was this falsehood that his biographer (Matthiessen; who admittedly didn’t really believe it from the beginning but ran with it anyway), to Redford who bought into it but didn’t have the courage to admit he was duped, but finally even his own attorney publicly admitted it. This cannot be brushed aside because it is a glaring example of the fissure, a widening crack, in Peltier’s “I did it for my people,” vacant character.
The list is endless but focusing on the recent admissions of guilt, how can anyone be accommodating to, or ignore someone who says, “And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do. (February 6, 2010),” and “I don’t regret any of it for one minute. (September 12, 2014).”
Mr. Healy frames the Incident at Oglala as “…a shooting left two federal agents dead.” Really, a shooting? Check the facts…Agents Coler and Williams were wantonly attacked, ambushed would be a better word, by a superior and violent force of AIM thugs. Outgunned and outnumbered they were first mortally wounded. There’s no doubt about how the incident started, we have Ron Williams’ own voice overheard by several people describing what was about to happen. That was the first part, but this is the scene within which Mr. Healy must frame his call for using Peltier in “a new era of peace.”
“I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and I look at him when he put it on, and he gave me a smile.” (Fn. 6)
So here’s Peltier, with two dead and mutilated federal agents at his feet as he accepts a smile from one of the other AIM shooters who’s stealing Jack Coler’s FBI jacket.
This is Mr. Healy’s cause célèbre for peace and healing and his way to “honor the memory of Agents Williams and Coler?”
Mr. Healy rhetorically asks “What does it mean for the families of FBI Agents Williams and Coler who died on the Pine Ridge Reservation?”
To accept Mr. Healy’s premise, to free Peltier, would be to dishonor their memory, their bravery and in a greater sense suggest—in real terms—that they died in vain.
Peltier is a panderer of his own heritage, he has adulterated and stolen all that is good about Native American history and culture and hides behind it like a thief in the night, or in this case a coward of Jumping Bull. Peltier is the last person to represent even a hint of reconciliation, for past wrongs against Native Americans, or the slightest hint of repentance for his own murderous actions that day at Pine Ridge.
Mr. Healy asks “What might we undo?” Perhaps we can undo a lot, but we cannot undo June 26, 1975.
The term “redskin” may be offensive but mascots are a whole other issue, and this isn’t about mascots. It’s about cold-blooded murder and an unrepentant sociopath who must continue to serve his sentence and pay his debt to society, no matter how that end may come.
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jack-healey/without-reservations-supp_b_5835422.html (last accessed 9/23/14)
4) http://noparolepeltier.com/canadaletter.html Further, “In my opinion, given the test for committal for extradition referred to above, the circumstantial evidence presented at the extradition hearing, taken alone, constituted sufficient evidence to justify Mr. Peltier’s committal on the two murder charges.” (Please read the entire letter.)
6) Peter Matthiessen, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse; The story of Leonard Peltier and the FBI’s war on the American Indian Movement. (Penguin Books, 1992) 552.