Leonard Peltier, a member of the Lakota tribe who was convicted of murdering two FBI agents in 1977, has spent 40 of his 71 years in federal prison. During that time, some have come to view him as an international symbol of the mistreatment of Native Americans by the US criminal justice system; others see him as the murderer of two FBI agents who should continue to pay his debt to society. Recently a group of prominent lawyers—backed by world leaders, civil rights activists, and several members of the US Congress—have renewed efforts to win his freedom by filing a formal appeal for clemency to the Department of Justice and requesting that President Barack Obama intervene on Peltier’s behalf.
In February, Martin Garbus, a well-known New York City trial lawyer and the lead attorney of the group, joined by former US Attorney Cynthia Dunne and attorney Carl S. Nadler, wrote a five-page letter to Obama urging him to grant Peltier clemency. “[T]he time has come for the interests of the law enforcement community to be balanced against principles of fundamental fairness, reconciliation, and healing,” they contended.
They also submitted a 44-page petition for clemency to the Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney on behalf of Peltier, who suffers from various medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and a heart condition. All of this, the petition notes, impairs “his ability to walk, to see, and to conduct normal life activities…He is ill-equipped to cope with life in the maximum security prisons in which he has been jailed for many years.” The petition includes more than two dozen letters from supporters including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Coretta Scott King, several Native American tribes, and Amnesty International.
Copyright 2016 Mother Jones
Source URL: http://m.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/leonard-peltier-clemency-obama-aim-wounded-knee