A Hero’s Welcome: A Statement From Leonard Peltier
Thanks to the urgent campaign that was launched by his supporters, American Indian political prisoner Leonard Peltier was recently transferred back to Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
Peltier had recently been transferred to Canaan prison, where he was beat up by other prisoners upon arrival—a highly unusual and suspicious attack. His supporters have strong reason to believe Peltier is still a target of FBI repression, and that the attack may have been an effort to undermine his chances of obtaining parole. To read more about Peltier’s struggle and the recent incident at Canaan, click here.
Below is a recent statement from Peltier following his return to Lewisburg.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your efforts in my urgent time of need; you cannot imagine how much my spirit has been lifted from the cards and letters, the phone calls and how everyone kept up the pressure. My gratitude is really more than I can express.
My return to Lewisburg was met like a hero’s welcome, and many people came to assure me of my safety there. It is so ironic that the prisoners in a federal maximum-security prison can guarantee my safety, but the Bureau of Prisons will not. I did not say, “cannot”, but “will not” do so. You have to remember the BOP is a little brother to the FBI and they came from an illegitimate mother called the JUST-US (Justice) Department.
Do I sound a little angry? Well, I am angry that many of my friends have died in assuring my survival while I’ve been in prison. All the men who were involved in my escape at Lompoc, all died mysteriously soon after: Dallas Thundershield at Lompoc, Bobby Garcia at Terre Haute, and Rocky Dueñas, whose body was never recovered.
And Standing Deer, he gave away his life when he revealed the assassination plot against me. He lived under the shadow of death for years, waiting to be killed for defying the government, until he was eventually paroled to Texas. He was murdered soon after the same person who contracted him to have me assassinated warned him about his involvement with my campaign.
Surviving this attack brought back memories of those losses, and it is with tears of more gratitude in my eyes and in my heart that no one died this time. I don’t ever want to lose another brother in protecting me; a human life is precious and important.
I know in other countries, prisoners who have been held by their government have been placed in house arrest after they have attained international support as I have. If the BOP cannot guarantee my safety to the extent the prisoners here can, then I demand to be returned to my nation, Turtle Mountain, where I can be assured of my safety!
Turtle Mountain has issued a resolution to transfer me into their custody, and they have asked to meet with Obama on a nation-to-nation basis. This has to happen and it will when a lot of energy is placed behind it. In the past 18 days your efforts brought me out of the hole and to where there is a measure of safety.
The FBI has said that I will never leave prison alive, and we should not accept that as an idle threat. There have been a few times that my life was targeted by the FBI in the 33 years since my capture, and each of those who have helped me to survive are now dead.
The transfer and attack at Canaan is just a warning to me of what is to come. The wardens know of the psychological make-up of their inmate population in their prison, and they clearly knew that placing someone who is well known, as I am, with connections to many famous people and at my age, I would be subject to predatory attacks. This was deliberate by the BOP, and as far as the motivation for the attack, it could have been ordered by any prison official at the request of the FBI, or someone trying to curry favor from the feds. It could have also been a tactic to beat me into submission for purposes of extortion or something as stupid as trying to make a reputation.
We know they are afraid and Trimbach’s smear letter supports that. They see pressure, in the form of your letters and calls, growing and they know that my committee has been tirelessly developing plans to set up a wave of activity. The FBI is now afraid that they will fail to keep me falsely imprisoned. We are becoming stronger and we must keep building our network to succeed.
I am proud of the brother’s & sisters, the Elders and my family who make up the committee; they have all personally sacrificed more than many people may ever know. It is humbling when I hear about the difficulties they have had due to being associated with me, but they do not quit. They are putting in many hours of their lives that they could be spending with their own families, but I hear they are on the phones talking to people, writing letters, and networking through the computers. They have been criticized by a few people and attempts have been made to create divisions within the committee through spreading accusations about them. So let me say this, I know the people I have invited to serve on my committee, and I’ve known most of them for years. A couple of them are my Sun Dance brothers and I have entrusted my life in their abilities and their commitment to bring about my freedom.
The decision I have made to place them in their positions of responsibility is mine, not the critics. I ask all my supporters to ignore those who would have you waste your time listening to or reading petty gossip based upon jealousy or personal dislike. These are activities that the FBI uses to destroy a movement, and they are not the Indian way of doing things. So we need to be aware that those who are bad-mouthing my committee, and talking behind their backs to smear them, may be infiltrators sent by the feds to tear down the committee. Watch out for those people and make some distance from them.
I am also asking all of my supporters and allies to follow the directions of the committee when the plans and strategies are presented at the Feb. 6th event in Boulder, CO. It had begun as an educational event and now it will be a very important event because of everything that has happened recently. We had wanted to release it when Obama was sworn in, but my transfer placed it on hold. I am a believer that nothing happens by accident or coincidence. It all happens for a reason, and it feels as if things are coming together the way they should. It is significant that an intense campaign will be begun after 33 years in captivity and with a newly elected President who could be receptive to my clemency appeal in office.
We will be making our message stronger in what we do and in how we will do it. I cannot stress how important it will be to increase our numbers after this event because the committee members, spokespersons, and their families will be making more personal sacrifices to help increase awareness. They’ll need your support in organizing other events and networking in your area.
Again, I want to thank everyone who wrote, called and emailed. My hand in appreciation is extended to those who have held rallies and protests on my behalf to call attention to the attack on me. I also extend my gratitude to Cynthia McKinney, former congresswoman, for her recent letter to President Obama urging him to free other political prisoners and myself.
In all these years, there have been so many people who have prayed for my safety and freedom from all faiths. There is power in those prayers and that is what I know will bring about my freedom. I can feel something different this time, and many others have expressed the same thought to me. So when you pray, don’t pray only for me, but the warriors of AIM who have died for our people, the victims of the “Reign of Terror” on Pine Ridge, and other victims who has suffered as we have. Pray for their families as well. They must not be forgotten and they must have justice!
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, Dallas Thundershield, Bobby Garcia, Rocky Dueñas, Standing Deer, and in The Spirit of Total Resistance,