Column: Media doesn't care about Peltier case
Monday, September 14, 2009
Filed Under: Opinion
"Saturday was Leonard Peltier's 65th birthday, and he has spent almost half his life in jail.
Peltier, an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist, has been in prison since 1977, found guilty of executing two FBI agents during a shootout at Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
His case is marred by allegations of witness coercion, judicial fiat, FBI incompetence, and an anti-Indian vigilante mentality. Those of us who followed the militant days of AIM waited hopefully on July 28 for the parole commission to determine whether Peltier had finally paid his dues to society.
Federal parole eligibility for life sentence offenders does not mean freedom or exoneration; it means serving the remainder of a life sentence under supervision of one's community. Eric Seitz, Peltier's attorney, said that his client spoke for more than an hour with "great eloquence . . . we thought it went very well."
Peltier represents one of America's most complex and controversial face-offs between the law-and-order perspective and minority community rights. June 26, 1975, was the culmination of a three-year mini-war between traditionalist and assimilationist factions on the reservation. The assimilationists were using vigilante enforcers to terrorize the traditionalists. AIM, a nationally recognized Indian's rights group that used civil disobedience - and, in those days, weapons - was called in to protect the traditionalists."
Get the Story:
David Biddle: A missed chance for compassion (The Philadelphia Inquirer 9/14)