Statement from Leonard Peltier

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Mon Jan 29 16:13:28 MST 2001


Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001 12:42:39 -0600
From: LPDC <lpdc at idir.net>
To: wy430 at victoria.tc.ca
Subject: Statement by Leonard Peltier

STATEMENT BY LEONARD PELTIER

Greetings Friends and Supporters:

January 20, 2001, was a sad day for all of us. I know that this denial of
clemency has affected many of you as much as it has affected both my family
and myself. It is a terrible feeling and disappointment knowing that this
nightmare has not ended and will continue for many months to come.

When I received the news, I felt my stomach curl and a feeling of nausea
rolled over me. It took a while for me to refocus. For some reason I had
thought I might be having dinner with my family that night. It was an
especially disappointing day for all of us.

What Bill Clinton did to us was cruel. For eight years he ignored my
clemency petition despite the major campaign that was waged. Then, just
months before leaving office he publicly promised to make a decision on my
case, one way or the other. He said he was aware of its importance. The
White House gave my attorneys indications that there was a good chance for
my clemency to be granted. I had to prepare myself for being released
because there was no sign that my petition would be denied.

The LPDC bought me clothes, my grandson prepared his bedroom for me to
sleep in and other preparations were made for my homecoming. My friends on
Pine Ridge began plans to build me a house. We were literally forced to get
our hopes up because we did not want to be unprepared if I was suddenly set
free.

January 19, came and still, they kept us in nervous anticipation saying the
more difficult clemencies are still being worked on and would be announced
the next morning. Then January 20 came and went! The White House never even
told us what the decision was. We had to find out through the press that my
name was not on the list of clemencies. To leave a person's life and so
many peoples' hopes hanging in the balance like that is truly hardhearted.

Since that dark Saturday, I have managed to get up and dust myself off, and
begin to lift my spirits once more. I am just as determined now to fight
for my freedom as I was on February 6, 1976 when I was first arrested. I
will not give up. This is the second time in the span of my incarceration
that I made it to the top of the hill and saw that freedom was in view,
only to be kicked right back down to the bottom again.

The first time was in 1985, when the evidence used to convict me was
impeached and I was denied a new trial, despite Judge Heaney's finding that
I might have been acquitted had the jury been presented this evidence. To
be denied a new trial after such a finding shocked our network and me just
as much as this denial of clemency has. However, we never lose a battle
without making some major gains in the overall struggle.

I want to compliment and thank my staff at the LPDC and all of you
grassroots supporters who stood beside me and fought so tirelessly for my
freedom. You put on one of the strongest and most memorable campaigns I
have experienced. Years from now people will read about the accomplishments
you made. People from every walk of life worked on this campaign. People
from every denomination and belief prayed from every corner of the Earth.
Although it feels like our sentiments were shooed away like an irritating
fly by a president who did not want to face the consequences of his own
mistakes, I believe we put up a serious challenge. We can see who was
granted clemency and why. The big donors to the President's campaign were
able to buy justice, something we just couldn't afford. Meanwhile, many
political prisoners continue to languish unjustly, proof that this nation's
talk about reconciliation is nothing but empty rhetoric.

We now have a number of strategies to continue this struggle for my
freedom. These ideas are in the early planning stages. I ask you to remain
with us while we regroup and develop a thorough plan. We must carefully
consider every option and make sure the strategies compliment each other in
order to have the best effect. The LPDC will release strategies as they are
developed. Some will be released this week.

I also have my own personal plans. I will continue doing artwork and will
be looking at ways to make it more available to the public. I will also be
working with my friends, Fedelia and Bob Cross, to build a grade school in
Oglala. Before my clemency was decided, I began to dream of the different
projects I would like to work on in Pine Ridge if I were free. Now that I
have been denied, Fedelia and Bob have said they will take the initiative
to begin the projects themselves, with my input. Soon, we will be
establishing a board and non-profit status.

Bob and Fedelia are schoolteachers and lifetime Oglala residents, and they
have the land on which to build the school. They have told me of the
desperate need for an improved school in Oglala. The existing school is
severely under funded and inadequate and does not provide the kids with the
quality education they need and deserve . We have the highest drop out rate
of all ethnic groups in the country and part of the reason is the lack of
stimulating and challenging programs for the youth.

Another idea I would like to develop is building a small recreation center
for Oglala. As most of you know Native health conditions are also probably
the worst in the country. We want to change that, beginning with this
center. We want the center to have modern exercise equipment, a
kitchenette, and card tables. As everyone gathers here to socialize, have
coffee, gossip, and play cards, we can encourage them to try the equipment
and to begin getting in the habit of exercising and eating healthy foods. I
believe it would be a nice place for people to spend time and a good
incentive for them to get into better physical condition and stop the trend
of diabetes on the reservation. The reservation currently has no facility
like this.

If we are successful in establishing these two services, I believe that the
community of Oglala will truly benefit. We will then be able to move on to
other projects that will bring people together and raise the quality of
life. For example, one day I would like to rebuild Jumping Bull Hall so
that there will be a drug and alcohol free place where people, especially
youth, can gather. We could set it up for a movie theatre and bring in
video games. People can watch movies, hold meetings, have birthday
celebrations, community meals and dances here. Right now, our youth have no
place to go to socialize and I believe this facility could help prevent the
hopelessness and despair too many of our young people feel. I would hope
that word of these projects would spread to other reservations and others
like Fedelia and Bob Cross will be inspired to take on similar ideas which
we could help support.

Your ideas, input, and support are welcomed. If you know people who would
donate supplies (books, wood, cement, hardware, etc), make financial
contributions, or donate their skills and labor, please get in touch with
the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee.

In closing, I want to thank you again for your support and ask that you
stand with us in this struggle. I believe that one day in the near future
we will succeed. But it can't be done without your support.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
PO Box 583 Lawrence, KS
66044 785-842-5774
www.freepeltier.org


Louis Proyect
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