…for the Watertown Public Opinion in Watertown, South Dakota.” read the email received on January 30, 2015 from, Jennifer Thomas, Special Feature Reporter, (firstname.lastname@example.org) that continued with;
“I am currently working on a story regarding Leonard Peltier and his supporters' current calls for amnesty. I have received statements and interview commitments from Friends of Peltier and Amnesty International Reps, but would like to fairly report on all sides, offering readers enough information to form their own opinion on the case. The article is currently scheduled to run next week marking the anniversary of his arrest and subsequent extradition from Canada. Is there any way I could receive a statement on the case from a representative of your organization or arrange for a brief phone interview?”
I politely declined the phone interview but provided a couple of links for reference and an offer to answer any questions, provide additional references, and pointed out that there was a lot of folklore surrounding the Peltier matter, but that the facts are out there.
There was no reply but I did follow up with two more emails and several more references on Peltier issues making the point that without specific details readers would not be able to make an informed decision regarding Peltier’s guilt. I pointed out the recorded fabrications (lies), on film, in Redford’s, Incident at Oglala, from Bob Robideau and Peltier himself, a YouTube compilation of Peltier’s ever-changing version of the facts and his inability to provide consistent answers to very simple questions. I sent a link to the letter from the Canadian Government that put to rest Peltier’s claims of an unlawful extradition.
I did receive a reply on February 2nd from Ms. Thomas thanking me for my time and information and that it would be useful in writing her article.
At that point I believed that if she had explored the NPPA website and reviewed the material I’d forwarded, that perhaps she would write a balanced article that would “fairly report on all sides.”
I did though find it unusual, considering, not a complicated case but one with a long history, that she didn’t have at least one follow-up question.
The article “Special Report: Leonard Peltier at 70,” appeared several days later and was far less than expected, and a disappointment. It rehashed points that would have been easily disproven, and, in sum, portrayed Peltier as a victim and a martyr, adding as well, insult to injury, claiming Peltier’s alleged humanitarian efforts (a complete and provable sham*), and also lamenting his age and poor health**.
Jack Coler and Ron Williams, given the option, would willingly trade Peltier’s infirmities for the cold-blooded deaths they suffered in 1975.
I contacted the editor, Roger Whittle (email@example.com) for an opportunity of a rebuttal. He then provided the Letter-to-the-Editor policy, one of which was that it had to be 300 words or less. Easier said than done.
I sat down and within about fifteen minutes typed what I considered a concise reply to Ms. Thomas’s special report, until I realized it exceeded 600 words.
Some seventy-plus editorial essays, nearly fifteen years of involvement honoring the sacrifice of two young FBI agents, dealing with all manner of attacks, a law suit, threats of lawsuits and outrageous slander from Peltier fringe elements, and to say it all in 300 words seemed impossible. Over two hours later, after a series of what felt like endless edits, the response was finished and forwarded to Mr. Whittle, who replied and said it would be printed in Saturday’s, 2/14/15, edition***.
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Letter to the Editor, The Public Opinion, February 11, 2015
Response to “Special Report: Leonard Peltier at 70”
Unfortunately, The Public Opinion (TPO) article was factually inaccurate and regretfully repeated many issues that have long been discredited. The answers to those lingering allegations are available at www.noparolepeltier.com
A truly innocent person would have no difficulty reciting the facts, yet Peltier’s versions have changed repeatedly.
Peltier’s own public statements have proven his guilt beyond all doubt:
“I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and he gave me a smile.” (ITSOCH p.552) With two dead and mutilated agents at their feet Peltier and the others steal their weapons. The “Joe,” was Joe Stuntz, who was killed that day as he and others fired upon responding law enforcement. There was an investigation and it was a justifiable shooting. Simple premise, shoot at police and they’re going to shoot back.
During Peltier’s escape with other AIM members from Pine Ridge he bragged about what happened at the agent’s vehicles. This came out in sworn testimony at another murder trial in 2004; “He (Peltier) said the (Obscene Expletive) was begging for his life, but I shot him anyway.” The TPO article failed to paint a fair picture of the devastation wrought by AIM.
"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." (2/6/10) Two wounded, then brutally slain agents. Peltier is both unrepentant and remorseless.
“I don’t regret any of this for a minute.” (8/28/14) No regrets?
The only thing Peltier has is to keep the myth alive, and unfortunately the TPO article just perpetuates the folklore and failed to provide concrete solutions upon which readers can make informed judgments.
* * *
“In the Spirit of Coler and Williams”
** A hard copy of the article, along with the initial email to Ms. Thomas and Mr. Whittle, was sent to Peltier at USP Coleman, as are all updates and blogs from the No Parole Peltier Association. This has been standard practice for over a decade when it became apparent that Peltier’s network leadership, which has changed a number of times, was not sharing everything with him, specifically, the criticisms and attacks on his feigned and alleged innocence and destroying the myth and folklore: In other words, the truth. Also included with each mailing is an autographed copy of Peltier’s FBI wanted poster. Autographed by me, as promised years ago, to dispel the myth that the aiding and abetting charge against Peltier was somehow magically, and later, inserted into the case. Highlighted with a yellow marker on FBI Identification Order #4681 is the date of “November 25, 1975” and, “charging Peltier with murder – first degree, killing two Federal Officers in the performance of their duties and aiding and abetting.” Also highlighted in yellow are two of Peltier’s known aliases, John Yellow Robe, and Leonard Williams; the irony not being missed either by Peltier or anyone paying even the slightest attention.
*** The letter may have appeared in TPO, but I haven’t seen it and perhaps it doesn’t matter all that much. Not certain what kind of attention TPO gets and would imagine that most in South Dakota, whether Native American or not, have already made up their minds, one way or the other, regarding the American Indian Movement and Leonard Peltier. This blog will be posted and also forwarded to right around 5,000 recipients, so at least the response to Ms. Thomas’s “Special Report” will get some attention.