FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

40 Years is Enough: Bring Leonard Peltier Home

by

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 11.19.07 AM

Leonard Peltier supporters gathered in New York, California, Oregon, Paris, Barcelona, Belfast, Brussels and Berlin on Saturday February 6, 2016, for an International Day of Solidarity. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, home to the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, an overflow multi-generational crowd congregated at the First Unitarian Church to commemorate with prayer, discussion, music, dance and drumming the 40th anniversary of Peltier’s incarceration in the U.S. federal prison system. “Twice as many people as last year,” according to Peter Clark, co-director of the Defense Committee, “More than any Peltier event in Albuquerque in recent memory.”

Panelists included Diné elder Lenny Foster, Peltier’s long-time spiritual adviser who has visited the political prisoner every year since 1985, conducted sweat lodges in the prison system “before it was chic to do so;” singer, domestic violence activist and former Miss Navajo, Radmilla Cody, who related some of her own experiences of incarceration; and John Torres Nez, president of the Indigenous Fine Arts Market (IFAM), who exhibited Leonard’s artworks this past August in Santa Fe. They all conveyed variations on a straightforward message—“40 years is enough, it’s time to bring him home.”

The 71-year-old prisoner, currently incarcerated in USP Coleman, a federal maximum-security penitentiary northeast of Tampa, Florida, has been diagnosed with an aortic abdominal aneurysm. Supporters are concerned that if the aneurysm ruptures he could bleed out before receiving the “adequate medical treatment” the Bureau of Prisons is required by law to provide. Prayers were offered for his healing as well as his release. “Leonard belongs to us,” Foster told the crowd. “We don’t want our brother to die in prison, like Geronimo.”

The day’s events which were two months in the planning by organizers—Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, ANSWER-NM, members of the Blessed Oscar Romero Community, La Raza Unida, Party for Socialism and Liberation, The Red Nation and (un)Occupy Albuquerque—included performances by children from the La Mesa Elementary School. Radmilla Cody sees this transfer of skills as vital to survival and resilience. “We have to go back home, relearn our ways. This is our strength.”

Rapper Def-1 performed “The Land of Enfrackment” recently released on his Shields for Raining Arrows CD, a song about the environmental depredations of hydraulic fracturing, a method of natural gas extraction that Peltier has repeatedly condemned as being destructive to Mother Earth. Def-1 sang: “I’m trying to free my people inside of this evil frame, I’m tired of this greedy game and the lies that will eat your brain.”

“Incarceration is a tool to silence political movements. We don’t have heroes, they’ve been demonized,” Nick Estes, co-founder of The Red Nation explained while disseminating pamphlets at his group’s information table. “Our history is erased. But the children here will remember that Leonard Peltier is one of our heroes, that he was fighting for treaty rights. We need our leaders like Leonard Peltier repatriated back to our communities.”

According to Estes plans are already underway for Peltier’s reintegration through the Indigenous Rights Center when President Obama “gets on the right side of history” and grants clemency before leaving office in eleven months. The home page of the international Committee’swebsitefeatures a clock counting the days, hours, minutes and seconds that Peltier has been locked up, and a second one counting down the remainder of the Obama administration.

Plans to continue to raise the visibility of the clemency campaign are ongoing. According to Sue Schuurman of the Peace & Justice Center, a mural honoring Peltier’s sacrifice is being planned on the east wall of the center which is located near the university of New Mexico campus. UNM-based Red Student Faction is organizing a National Student Day of Action on February 27, a day in 1973 that marked the re-occupation of Wounded Knee. The day of action is a Call to Demand the release of Leonard Peltier.

Paige Murphy said ANSWER-NM is educating the public about who Peltier is and what he means symbolically. “This is a relatable liberation struggle for people the world over. It’s so much larger than the Native community.” According to Murphy, the struggle comes down to one word: Respect. “To be seen as human beings.” The group is taking tangible actions to help secure Peltier’s release. “Actions such as the letter writing campaign to the White House,” she explained. During the Q&A, one woman asked: “How many letters and phone calls will it take for Obama to find his courage and release Leonard Peltier? What is the magic number, where is the tipping point?”

When asked for a final comment from the dais, IFAM’s Torres Nez’s simply said: “Get him out, get him home. Let’s talk about the future.”

This article originally appeared on Indian Country Today

Frances Madeson is the author of the comic novel Cooperative Village (Carol MRP Co., New York, 2007), and a social justice blogger at Written Word, Spoken Word.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail