On anniversary of FBI shootout, Tampa Indigenous group will rally for Leonard Peltier’s release

On June 26, FIA will call for clemency for Peltier, a prominent example of the U.S. government's war on Native people.

click to enlarge Activists hold a banner calling for Leonard Peltier's release outside of Coleman Penitentiary in Florida. - Photo by Justin Garcia
Photo by Justin Garcia
Activists hold a banner calling for Leonard Peltier's release outside of Coleman Penitentiary in Florida.

Supporters of Native American activist Leonard Peltier will rally for his release on June 26, the anniversary of the shootout between the FBI and the American Indian Movement which unjustly landed him in prison for the last 47 years of his life.

Peltier is a prominent and tragic example of the U.S. government's war on Indigenous people, and his trial has been named as one of the most corrupt in American history by Amnesty International and other civil rights and legal groups.

Even the top prosecutor against Peltier called for his release in a letter to former President Barack Obama in 2017, saying, "It's time to call it quits."

Several organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, have called on President Joe Biden to grant Peltier clemency, to no avail.
After the U.S. government's repeated ignorance toward justice, The Florida Indigenous Alliance (FIA) will rally at downtown Tampa's Federal Courthouse—located at 801 N  Florida Ave.—on June 26 at 1 p.m. to push for Peltier's release and once again call attention to the corruption surrounding his trial and imprisonment.

"Leonard's trial included a bogus autopsy (the autopsy information was presented by someone who never saw the agents bodies) falsified ballistics, perjured eye witness testimony and he was extradited on an entirely fabricated statement," FIA wrote on the event page for the rally. "Still, 47 years later and with 10,000 [case] documents still withheld, Peltier remains in prison."

Peltier, 77, is held at Coleman Penitentiary about an hour drive north of Tampa. Recently, he caught COVID-19, raising fears that he might die in prison, which prompted a rally outside of Coleman. Still, the U.S. cruelly holds him behind bars as his health suffers.

FIA and supporters of Peltier just want him out of the horrific conditions he's in, and they're pushing a new legal case for his freedom.

"His best hope currently for release is a clemency campaign spearheaded by Attorney Kevin Sharp and the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee," FIA wrote.
Peltier was an AIM member and on the Pine-Ridge Reservation in South Dakota when the FBI raided the land and began conflict with members of the Oglala Lakota Nation, including women and children, in 1975. The Indigenous people protested the FBI's presence, and a gunfight ensued. Several natives and two FBI agents were killed as a result of the conflict.

"The FBI agents came with a warrant they did not have, for someone who they knew was not there during the infamous Reign of Terror on Pine Ridge in which 60+ traditional people and AIM members were murdered with no investigation," FIA wrote.

Peltier maintains his innocence, and when asked by the Huffington Post in May what he would tell President Biden, he said, “I’m not guilty of this shooting. I’m not guilty. I would like to go home to spend what years I have left with my great-grandkids and my people.”

Biden has the power to give Peltier executive clemency, but has coldly refused to, while the innocent Peltier could die any given day as he suffers ongoing health issues.

FIA called on all supporters of Peltier to join them on June 26, to keep the pressure on the U.S. government to finally do the right thing.

"Join us at the downtown Tampa Federal building and call for commutation and let Leonard Peltier go home," FIA wrote. 

About The Author

Justin Garcia

Justin Garcia has written for The Nation, Investigative Reporters & Editors Journal, the USA Today Network and various other news outlets. When he's not writing, Justin likes to make music, read, play basketball and spend time with loved ones. 

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