Message from Leonard Peltier

Below here is a new letter from COINTELPRO prisoner Leonard Peliter, responding to the election of Barack Obama. For more on Leonard’s case go to his website or watch ‘Incident at Oglala’ here:

part one:

part two:


My Relatives and Friends,

Last night a change in this country took place that not too long ago many people said would never happen. An African-American was elected to the White House and by a major landslide, which gives him a mandate by the public to fulfill his promises. This landslide indicates the people have placed their hope with this man they call their president for a change in this country.

HOPE. There have been times if I can even recall what it really means to have hope that justice is right around the corner. I’ve been mislead and disappointed so many times that I would soon see justice and to have it denied upon a technicality in legal appeals. Or like what happened eight years ago. Everyone placed their hope and trust with a couple named Bill and Hillary, but we were betrayed at the last minute. I know that many of my friends, family and supporters were crushed. I began to feel the weight and pressure of a lifetime being unjustly imprisoned began to crowd me into a corner of my cell and then in my mind. But, it was this thing that has been our battle cry for so many years, “In the Spirit of Crazy Horse”. I remembered what he stood for and remained a warrior until his last breath. It is a strength that we stand upon when we are right. We were right to be in Oglala and we were right to be prepared to defend ourselves. What wasn’t right is that a jury never got to hear any of this testimony, and the rest of the trial was a product of the fabrication and then manipulation of the FBI. This spirit of Crazy Horse is a spirit of being in total resistance to the wrongs perpetuated towards your people, community, family and yourself. Some of us called it outrage, but that is just merely an emotion without resolving the issue. It is when we make a conscious choice to try and balance the wrongs in this society that we are being compelled by this spirit of resistance to stand in defense of the wronged.

That spirit cannot be conquered, and I refused to submit and give in when it appeared there may be no hope It was because of the letters of support and encouragement from so many people that I continued on for another eight years. And now people seem to feel there is a change blowing in the wind and that the election of Obama is a manifestation of that change.

I sincerely hope so, because I am now 64 years old and coming up on my 33 year of being confined and fighting for justice and my freedom, Obama may be my last chance at securing my freedom. If there is one thing I learned from earlier campaigns on my clemency is that he won’t just be able to do it by himself. He is going to need your support in the form of public opinion on the case. That isn’t going to happen until we can create education and awareness on the circumstances of my case across this country and send letters. Be a Branch Support Group to help create public opinion. My case has to be a national issue on justice denied, it may sound easy, but it isn’t. The FBI has been an opposing force in attempting to discredit my cause and that of Native people since they focused their attention on the American Indian Movement in the 1970s. When it appeared that Clinton might actually grant clemency, the agents went and demonstrated at the White House and utilized their resources to create doubt in the mind of Clinton.

So in the national awareness goals of the branch support groups it is going to be your challenge to keep the public interest focused. It is also another hope that with a whole generation of people who were born after my wrongful conviction that there will be a renewed source of energy and actions.

One point that I would like everyone to focus on right now is a “30 year law” regarding my sentence and parole. At the time I was convicted, the guidelines said:

“Any prisoner, …shall be released on parole… after serving thirty years of each consecutive term or terms of more than forty-five years including any life term, whichever is earlier: Provided, however, That the Commission shall not release such prisoner if it determines that he has seriously or frequently violated institution rules and regulations or that there is a reasonable probability that he will commit any Federal, State, or local crime.” 28 U.S.C. section 28 U.S.C. §4206(d)

I’ve served more than 30 years of this sentence and have been considered a model prisoner And the likelihood of committing any crimes is non-existent due to my age and the humanitarian work I’ve pursued to help my people since my incarceration. According to this law, they have to grant me a parole to my next sentence. But as we’ve learned from the past, we cannot take anything for granted so your letters should be focused on this law to the parole commission and congressional leaders. If the commission complies with the letter and spirit of this law, we will have made a significant step towards my freedom and we will need to maintain and increase this momentum.

The Committee and I have been discussing several ideas and projects to make this a pro-active campaign. We are currently rebuilding the former LPSG’s into LPBSG’s. This is necessary due to a breakdown with the former Leonard Peltier Defense Committee. I had to turn to my sister and niece to help me rebuild my defense committee from scratch. We had no files, records, and merchandise. We have not been able to make contact with the former coordinator of the LPDC. We are still hoping to resolve this issue, but until then we needed to keep moving with the campaign.

We still need all of our former contacts and supporters to reconnect with us and to update the information so that my Committee can handle correspondences and contributions. We need everyone who has supported me to contact the LPDOC and sign onto our list serve so that you can be updated with information on progress or activities needed in my campaign.

I will need everyone to work with my Committee and clear any action with the appropriate people within the Committee. It is important that we all work together cohesively, instead of scattering our efforts or resources. We do not intend to discourage ideas or creativity, but we would like to incorporate such ideas into a unified larger effort and not act prematurely on some plans we may have not disclosed due to timing or details being worked out.

Some of the projects we have discussed are conducting rides, walks, runs and events across the country to create this awareness of my case. We are initiating efforts to ask bands and artists to host fundraisers in their area. We’ve talked about strategies we could undertake to further my cause, but a lot will depend on how quickly people come to form my BSG and start organizing in their area.

I also understand that some of us have personality issues with other people. I hope that many of you can pray or find a way to rise above this obstacle and work together for one common purpose. I would like to see so many of my supporters come together in a show of solidarity. If there really is a change in the air, we will need each other to bring about change in so many other areas. For me it has been about our culture and right to be who we are, but foremost it has been the children and the next generation. WE were supposed to leave a better world behind for them and how much have we accomplished? I know that somehow and someway my sacrifice will not be in vain and that the years I’ve endured this pain of loneliness and suffering in confinement will make a better world for those children and coming generations. That along with my freedom is my hope, but I will not be able to fulfill it without you. So take a few minutes and educate yourself on the injustices of my case. It may shock and outrage you, but you can do something about it, so join us.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier