This blog maintained by and property of The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Leonard's defense team returned in person to Fargo this week (June 15, 2005).

It has been nearly 30 years since Leonard was a captive in Fargo. Years later after the trial, Amnesty International declared that Mr. Peltier is a political prisoner.

About three weeks ago, Mr. Barry Bachrach, Leonard’s counsel, contacted me stating that Leonard had given my name to him. Mr. Bachrach said he was not getting cooperation from the federal court in securing a certified copy of the jury decision in the case of North Dakota C77-3003. It turned out to be relatively straightforward for me to get the copy. Because the case is nearly 30 years old, I expected that it would take a fair amount of time to find it.

At the clerk’s office , I stated that I was looking for a copy of a jury decision from 30 years ago and was told that it would be housed in the Denver archives. I mentioned that it was the Leonard Peltier case and the clerk said, “Oh, we have that here. Have a chair and I will get it and make a copy for you.” I found it interesting that the case of Leonard Peltier would be easily recognizable by someone, who may only have been born about 1977 or perhaps 10 years prior. It took about 10 minutes. She apologized when she came back and said she had to wait because a judge was using the library.

I went to the hearing this week. We listened to the federal prosecutor explain how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. At the end of the hearing, Leonard, who had been listening by phone, asked if he could speak. I watched the body language of the judge. He seemed surprised. He hesitated for a fairly long time; for what reason, only he really knows. Leonard reminded the judge that Mr. Crooks, who was present at this hearing, had admitted (at a previous hearing or challenge to the conviction) that the government convicted on the basis of aiding and abetting.

I saw the certified copy of the jury decision with my own eyes and it definitely reads first degree murder on two counts. There is nothing about aiding and abetting. You have to dance angels on the head of a pin to draw that conclusion.

To convict, someone has had to manufacture evidence, which the Peltier defense team has shown to be the case through the Freedom of Information Act over these many, too long years for Leonard. To keep Leonard in prison, those agents of our government keep jigging and rigging the dancing angels.

I remain convinced the trial was rigged. I wrote the following piece in 1977. It was intentionally written with very stark contrasting words of contextual meaning. In 2005, someone may be offended by them. You also must remember that when this was written, none of the Freedom Of Information Act files had been released. The description of the vehicle that I wrote about in 1977 is what was placed into my mind by the prosecution and into the minds of the jurors. That description was wrong because the prosecution and Judge Benson made sure that no one that day understood what kind of vehicle Leonard drove.

These words are offered with the request that you will work hard for the release from prison of the One Who Stood Alone.

He Stood Alone
Two duly-sworn law enforcers, who were white, are now dead. Led by an all white prosecution team, one red man now stands convicted by an all white jury. The cause is racism. The issue remains the treaty obligations signed by the U.S. Congress and the Headmen of the Oglala Nation of 1868.

A racist remark in a bar. The theft of a white man’s cowboy boots. The warrant for the arrest of a 15 year old reservation male. Violence on the reservation repeated--this time one red and two white die.

Who owns the water? Who owns the precious ores-the coal and uranium? Liberal or conservative bears no relationship to who controls the land.

The red-skinned people came to Fargo to support a brother in his trials. They pray for him. The white press, in a photo caption, labels the prayer ceremony a prayer demonstration. Here again, a failure to understand cultural differences fosters the cause of racism.

The issue remains the treaty obligations. The courts from time to time have spoken. Over the years, case by case, native peoples have retained their rights before the law as obligated by the U.S. Congress.

Testimony and then the counter testimony--the adversary system in action.

Your Honor, the agent’s own radio transcription, as monitored by another law officer, states that there was a red pickup truck present at the start of the shooting.

OBJECTION, your Honor.

Counsels will approach the bench. Bailiff, dismiss the jury. Objection over ruled. Counsel for the defense will refer only to a red vehicle. Bring in the jury Bailiff.Leonard Peltier drove a red AND WHITE VAN.

Your Honor, the agent who was under fire radioed a message, which was monitored by another law officer, stating that he would be killed if fellow officers did not direct protective gunfire onto the top of the hill.

OBJECTION, your Honor.

Counsels will approach the bench. The jury is dismissed. Objection sustained. Bailiff, bring in the jury.

Leonard Peltier, according to the government theory, raced ahead of agent Williams in his red vehicle (red and white van) stopped the vehicle (van) on the road ahead of the agent’s vehicle (car) and got out firing. He did not fire from the top of the hill according to the government’s own theory.

Was it racism that caused these deaths. Was it racism that caused this conviction. The issue remains the treaty obligations.

Who owns the land, who owns the grazing rights on that land, who profits from ranching, who controls the precious resources?

In an all white court room--judge, jury, prosecution, defense and media--on advice from the U.S. Marshal, the judge bars Leonard Peltier’s wife and children, mother and father, sisters and brothers from hearing the verdict read. Guilty in the first degree. Pre meditated with malice and forethought, and there was no living blood relation to turn to and share that moment. He stood alone.