Innocence has a single voice that can only say over and over again, "I didn't do it."
Guilt has a thousand voices, all of them lies.
Leonard Peltier, Prison Writings
On May 18th, over a hundred supporters of Leonard Peltier marched on to the state capital building in Olympia, Washington to demand his release. A combined effort from Media Island, the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee (LPDOC), the office of the Northwest regional organizer, LPDOC, Tacoma and Portland chapters of LPDOC and members of the Olympia activist community, the action was also in support of the Leonard Peltier Human Rights March, which was making its way across the United States to Washington, DC to free an innocent man.
Leonard Peltier is an Indigenous activist who is serving two consecutive life sentences for the deaths of two FBI agents who were killed in a firefight on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota in 1975. A member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), he was framed up and extradited from Canada under false evidence and his trial was an ugly display of government misconduct. Having served more than 37 years in prison so far, Leonard takes the title as the longest-serving political prisoner in the United States. His real crime was standing up against the US government for Indigenous people. Today, he is a symbol of US injustice, but also Native pride and unwavering courage. Leonard is recognized throughout the world for his life-long struggle for human rights. Among his many international human rights awards, in 2009, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the sixth consecutive year.
The march began at Olympia’s Heritage Park with traditional drumming and speeches by local solidarity activists as well as organizers of the different Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee branches active in the US Northwest. Then, everyone marched through downtown Olympia , and to the chants of “Free Free Leonard Peltier”, the marchers arrived on the steps of the Washington State capital building. The action wrapped up with a closing rally that included updates on Leonard’s case and the critical need to support Leonard’s fight for freedom.
The main organizing body of Leonard’s defense is the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, and they are taking a four-step approach to Leonard’s freedom:
1. Demand an award of executive clemency
2. Demand a congressional investigation into the FBI’s misconduct in Indian Country, against the American Indian Movement and in the case of Leonard Peltier
3. Demand an Executive Review by the Attorney General
4. Demand the release of tens of thousands of related case documents.
For more information and background on Leonard’s case, please visit the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee website at http://www.whoisleonardpeltier.info
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