[Marxism] John Graham on the Looking Cloud trial [with comment on Dakota justice by Hunter Bear]

Hunter Gray hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Fri Feb 13 03:14:58 MST 2004

Note by Hunter Bear -

Among the many sections of the 'States where it's very tough for a Native
person to receive justice are the Dakotas.  [We lived in North Dakota for 16
years, taught at UND for 13,  and were consistently involved in Native
rights and civil liberties and labor struggles.]  A bizarre experience that
could have been lifted right out of a Deep South rural court in last
mid-century, occurred for me at the extremely racist reservation border town
of Devils Lake, ND early in 1986.  I was testifying in a state district
court -- and very knowledgably -- on behalf of an innocent Native man. The
prosecutor, Lew Jorgenson, made a serious effort to depict me as a
peripheral faculty person -- a part-timer -- at UND.  I was in actuality a
full professor with tenure.  With my UND status finally clarified, Jorgenson
proceeded to interrupt my testimony constantly with machine gun objections,
etc.  When I interrupted Jorgenson, the judge hammered but I kept on, and
was not cited for contempt. It took well over an hour for me to complete my
testimony. It was all pretty moot at that trial stage since the jury was, as
usual, all Anglo -- and the verdict was a quick guilty. The appeal was not
successful. But very soon after that "trial", we initiated a very successful
Indian rights -- and general civil rights -- campaign at Devils Lake.  That
involved a number of tactics -- Native economic boycott, litigation,
political contacts, broad regional and national publicity, and more.  For a
discussion of that, see our website page

Looking Cloud trial raises questions

Posted: February 12, 2004 - 2:53pm EST
by: David Melmer / Indian Country Today

RAPID CITY, S.D. - The guilty verdict of Arlo Looking Cloud and how it was
reached has led to discussions about justice in South Dakota and the United

John Graham, living in Vancouver, B.C., is also charged in the death of Anna
Mae Pictou-Aquash. Graham is under house arrest and faces an extradition

"I was shocked the trial went as far as it did. I was shocked the judge
stop it," John Graham said.

"They pulled a number on (Looking Cloud). That's publicized distortion from
the start. There is no justice for activists in South Dakota.

"It was a typical South Dakota kangaroo court. What happened to Arlo proves
there is no chance of a fair trial in the U.S.," Graham said. Graham has
pleaded not guilty to the charge of first degree murder and has always
his innocence.

In a telephone interview with Indian Country Today Graham said he did not
know Looking Cloud very well, had met him on Dec. 10 in Denver, yet prayed

"He doesn't have a clue what happened to him, other than he may spend his
life in prison," Graham said.

Graham said he drove Pictou-Aquash from Denver to Pine Ridge and then
dropped her off. Different from what was brought out by witnesses at the
Graham also said he didn't know why his name kept coming up. "Some guy said
that if
you shake the AIM tree my name comes up."

Graham said Looking Cloud was coached by others to tell a story the way he
did. "I believe Arlo was told what to say."

Graham said he was approached by the FBI in 1988 to reveal the names of the
higher AIM leaders that may have been involved. He refused. He said they
offered him immunity and could be put in the witness protection program. "I
know anything, why would I need to be protected," he asked.

Graham said he and Pictou-Aquash were in Cedar Rapids, Iowa attending Crow
Dog's trial at the time of the June 26, 1975 killing of the two FBI agents.
two went back to Oglala to help people out. "I know she wasn't an agent. You
go openly back into that if you were. We were concerned about Grandpa and
Grandma Jumping Bull and there were kids in there."

He said the same mentality that was present at the Wounded Knee Massacre in
1890, when the 7th Cavalry was involved in killing nearly 300 Lakota, was in

retaliation for the Battle at the Little Big Horn. "This is the same
he said.

"The FBI is trying to weld the door shut on Leonard (Peltier)."

Graham and Pictou-Aquash met in Minneapolis at the Red School House run by
AIM. He said the two went to the Farmington, N.M. national convention of
AIM, and
that they were good friends.

What was missing from the Looking Cloud trial, he said, was a knowledge of
the atmosphere in South Dakota at the time. "It was shocking to me at the
I thought it only happened in the movies."

He said he was hopeful that a legal team could help Looking Cloud with an

"There is a feeling in John's legal team; they can't believe the case
against Looking Cloud," said Mathew Lien of the John Graham Defense

Terry LaLiberte', extradition attorney for Graham, said after the trial and
verdict Looking Cloud received, "we will have to work harder to keep my
client from extradition to the U.S.

"The verdict was appalling. From the type of evidence I see, it was

Lien said the Looking Cloud trial demonstrated to allow Graham to stand
trial on the United States was "out of the question."

Looking Cloud family members have contacted the Graham defense committee and
others to ask for help with a legal appeals team for Looking Cloud. Tim
Rensch, Looking Cloud's court-appointed attorney has come under criticism
for not
mounting a credible defense for his client.

LaLiberte' said he didn't think there would be a shortage of lawyers who
would be willing to take the case.

"The people who have worked on John's team have a pretty good idea what the
truth looks like. What happened in the Looking Cloud Trial is not the
truth," Lien said

"If the FBI could have their ultimate case they would want some bad Indians
to take the fall for Anna Mae's death," Lien said.

The four day Looking Cloud trial, Lien said, provides the Graham Defense
team some insight about the government's approach.

During the Looking Cloud trial Graham was named as the trigger man numerous
times by persons who repeated what they said was the story told to them by
Looking Cloud.

Yet the Graham Defense committee will help form a legal appeals team for
Looking Cloud. "Why help him with he implicated John?" Lien said. "We don't
he intended to implicate John."

LaLiberte' said that Looking Cloud was convicted on the lack of forensic
evidence. "It was some type of innuendo," that convicted Looking Cloud.

He said the transcript of the trial would be important to juxtapose the
testimony of the various witnesses.

Should the extradition process work favorably for Graham he could be tried
in Canada, something his legal team, friends and many residents of Canada
to see. He is a Canadian living in Canada and charged with the murder of
another Canadian, Lien said.

Graham implied that the FBI doesn't want the truth to come out. He said that
more information about the first autopsy should be revealed. He also
mentioned that all the same agents and players today were around Oglala,
Robert Ecoffey.

"I feel now, more than ever, that John must not be extradited. This feeling
is based on all that has gone on in the Dakotas with respect to the Leonard
Peltier trial, and now the trial of Arlo Looking Cloud, which shows that a
conviction can be achieved on unreliable hearsay with so many
discrepancies," said
Jennifer Wade, Amnesty International for British Columbia.

The bar has been lowered for extradition to the United States since 9/11.
The Graham case has drawn some high level legal people to the case to use it
a means to challenge the constitutionality of the new extradition laws, Lien

Lien said the Canadian courts saw fit to trust Graham and let him out of
jail pending the extradition hearing. Graham walks from his home to a police
station in Vancouver, B.C. every day. He enjoys the long walk, because he is
by friends and residents who support him.

©2003 Indian Country Today


When you cut to the bone  and cut away the college degrees, academic and
other titles, published books and articles, ours is essentially a working
class and Indian family.  We consistently join unions  -- and we always
support them with the greatest vigor.

It's critical to always keep fighting -- and to always remember that, if one
lives with grace, he/she should be prepared to die with grace.

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