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

More articles by:

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.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
Gregory Barrett
“Realpolitik” in Berlin: Merkel Fawns Over Kissinger
Louis Yako
The Road to Understanding Syria Goes Through Iraq
Graham Peebles
Grenfell Tower: A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Ezra Rosser
The Poverty State of Mind and the State’s Obligations to the Poor
Ron Jacobs
Andrew Jackson and the American Psyche
Pepe Escobar
Fear and Loathing on the Afghan Silk Road
Andre Vltchek
Why I Reject Western Courts and Justice
Lawrence Davidson
On Hidden Cultural Corruptors
Christopher Brauchli
The Routinization of Mass Shootings in America
Missy Comley Beattie
The Poor Need Not Apply
Martin Billheimer
White Man’s Country and the Iron Room
Joseph Natoli
What to Wonder Now
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong: the Chinese Meant Business
Thomas Knapp
The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences
Nyla Ali Khan
Borders Versus Memory
Binoy Kampmark
Death on the Road: Memory in Tim Winton’s Shrine
Tony McKenna
The Oily Politics of Unity: Owen Smith as Northern Ireland Shadow Secretary
Nizar Visram
If North Korea Didn’t Exist US Would Create It
John Carroll Md
At St. Catherine’s Hospital, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Kenneth Surin
Brief Impressions of the Singaporean Conjucture
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Trump: the Birth of the Hero
Jill Richardson
Trump on Cuba: If Obama Did It, It’s Bad
Olivia Alperstein
Our President’s Word Wars
REZA FIYOUZAT
Useless Idiots or Useful Collaborators?
Clark T. Scott
Parallel in Significance
Louis Proyect
Hitler and the Lone Wolf Assassin
Julian Vigo
Theresa May Can’t Win for Losing
Richard Klin
Prog Rock: Pomp and Circumstance
Charles R. Larson
Review: Malin Persson Giolito’s “Quicksand”
David Yearsley
RIP: Pomp and Circumstance
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail