By the Austin DSA Leadership Committee
Leonard Peltier is a political prisoner incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary Coleman in Florida. He is serving two consecutive life sentences for the murder of two FBI agents in 1975, a crime for which he is innocent. Peltier’s trial and conviction were egregiously flawed, as has been documented thoroughly, yet nevertheless he has been in prison for over 46 years. It has been over 30 years since he was first eligible for parole.
Peltier has been punished, many times over, for “the crime of being an Indian” as he put it in Prison Writings, 1999. It has been 23 years since he wrote that, and he is still being punished. On January 28 this year, he tested positive for COVID-19. Throughout his confinement he has received inadequate health care, and consequently faces several factors putting him at an elevated risk for complications from COVID, or worse.
Enough is enough. It is time this shameful chapter of violent settler colonialism came to an end. Leonard Peltier, the activist, leader, writer, poet, father, grandfather and, above all else, the human being must be set free and allowed to return to Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa of North Dakota, who are ready to welcome him home.
We urge all Austin DSA members, allies and friends to join our call to free Leonard Peltier. Do so by contacting your member of Congress to demand they co-sign Senator Brian Schatz’s and Senator Pat Leahy’s calls for President Biden to commute Peltier’s sentence immediately, as well as those by the Native American State Legislators. Further, we urge our comrades to contact President Joe Biden and the other federal officials – see the letter posted by DSA member Rep. Ruth Buffalo for addresses and inspiration. The President has the power to commute Peltier’s sentence without debate or delay and must do so immediately.
For more information and other ways to get involved:
- DSA National: Free Leonard Peltier
- Indian Country Today: Dear President Biden and Administration: Release Leonard Peltier
- Learn about the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee and how you can help
- Read Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance