In June 1975, two FBI agents engaged in a firefight with still unknown individuals after following their pickup truck onto a private ranch. A group of American Indian Movement members had been asked to camp on the ranch by its owners, traditional elders, to protect them. Believing they were under attack, the AIM members returned fire in defense. Two agents and one Indian activist died in the firefight that ensued.
Two participants in the firefight were tried in the agents' deaths and were found not guilty based on self-defense. Another, Leonard Peltier, was extradited from Canada based on a perjured affidavit which had been coerced by FBI agents. At Peltier's trial the judge barred most of the overwhelming amount of evidence in Peltier's defense. FBI agents were allowed to perjure themselves (giving statements that conflicted with their own written reports and their testimony at the earlier trial), and the FBI provided fabricated evidence (although this did not come out until after Peltier's conviction, with the release of FBI documents under the Freedom of Information Act).
Leonard Peltier was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, without ever having a fair trial. Despite FBI documents demonstrating that the original evidence against him was falsified, he was denied all appeals.
The Biden Administration has already been transformative on issues of U.S. government-Native American relations, and it is on track to have a similarly profound impact on matters of criminal justice reform. Leonard Peltier’s request for clemency sits at the intersection of those issues and presents a powerful opportunity for President Biden.
A grant of clemency will show mercy and compassion to Leonard—who has spent more years incarcerated than free, has made substantial contributions to his community during that time, and is dangerously close to dying in prison. Clemency will also show every American, both Native and not, that the rights guaranteed by our Constitution are not hollow promises, and that egregious abuses of government power will eventually be acknowledged and rectified. It is too late for Leonard to reclaim the life he might have had; but it is not too late to end a miscarriage of justice nearly fifty years in the making.
We respectfully request that President Biden exercise the clemency power afforded him by the Constitution and commute Leonard Peltier’s sentence so that he may spend his remaining days on Turtle Mountain with his family.
Scroll down to the bottom of this webpage for trial transcripts and post-conviction files.
Create a 30-45 second video about why you support Leonard Peltier's bid for clemency.
Email it to LisaSpeesConsulting@gmail.com for use in his social media campaign.
Share or create social media posts showing support for Mr. Peltier. Use the hashtag, #FreeLeonardPeltier
This is the definitive feature documentary about American Indian activist, Leonard Peltier. His story is told within the context of the American Indian Movement, the US federal government, and the multi national companies interested in mining the land in South Dakota. Produced and directed by Suzie Baer. 1992
Steve Kroft interviews Leonard Peltier. 1992
Clip from 1999 documentary PBS documentary "Making A Noise: A Native American Musical Journey" featuring Robbie Robertson. Includes audio from imprisoned leader Leonard Peltier. Directed by Dana Perry. Produced by Perry Films.
In 1977, Native American activist Leonard Peltier was sentenced to consecutive life terms for killing two FBI agents. Then in 2000, a Freedom of Information Act disclosure proved the Feds had framed him. But Leonard's still in prison. This is the story of what happened on the Pine Ridge Reservation half a century ago - and the man who's still behind bars for a crime he didn't commit.