International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee

Background

The Beginning

It is important to put the shoot-out on June 26, 1975, in its proper context and understand that the incident at Oglala was part of a larger struggle—a struggle that continues today.

To understand the gross injustice of the Peltier case, it is not at all necessary that you agree with but understand the politics of the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the struggle in which Indigenous People were engaged in the 1970s.

We urge you not to focus on the reasonableness of the basis for the investigation of AIM by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the politics, rhetoric, or actions of AIM. Instead, focus on the chief investigative branch of the United States government (the FBI) and its counterintelligence program through which the Bureau—according to the U.S. Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, or the “Church Committee”—engaged in “lawless tactics” and responded to “deep-seated social problems by fomenting violence and unrest.”

It is a fact (and one supported by the government’s own documents) that the FBI actively supported the “Reign of Terror” on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation; sought to disrupt and “neutralize” AIM; and targeted AIM members, including human rights activist Leonard Peltier. It also is fact that the FBI, supported by government prosecutors, orchestrated the wrongful conviction and illegal imprisonment of Leonard Peltier.

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