FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10 October 2015
Contact: Peter Clark, Co-Director, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, (505) 217-3612 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Leonard Peltier named Grand Marshal of Albuquerque’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebration
The Red Nation has named Leonard Peltier to be Grand Marshal for the celebration on Monday, October 12—the very first celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event will begin at First Street and Central Avenue at 5:00 p.m.
This week the Albuquerque City Council declared the celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on the second Monday of October, a day nationally recognized as “Columbus Day”. The Red Nation sparked the campaign last February by leading an Abolish Columbus Day demonstration, in coalition with other community groups, at the steps of City Hall. City Council President Rey Garduño—with guidance and input from The Red Nation and community organizations—wrote, sponsored, and proposed the initiative. Six councilors endorsed and three abstained. Albuquerque joins cities—such as Seattle, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Berkeley, Portland, Lawrence, and Santa Cruz—that have also declared similar celebrations.
“Columbus Day celebrates the death and disappearance of Native people, land and life,” said Peter Clark, co-director of the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC) headquartered in Albuquerque. “Indigenous Peoples’ Day celebrates Indigenous resistance and resilience. Leonard Peltier has dedicated his life to opposing racial violence, government and corporate plunder of sacred lands and water, and the continued violation of treaties and Indigenous rights. Leonard and the ILPDC are very honored by The Red Nation’s gesture. We only wish Leonard could personally attend to enjoy the celebration.”
Native American activist Leonard Peltier was wrongfully convicted in 1977 in connection with the shooting deaths of two agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota. The federal prosecutor has twice admitted that the government cannot prove Peltier’s guilt.
“Prosecutors and federal agents manufactured evidence against Leonard, hid proof of his innocence, presented false testimony, ignored court orders and lied to the jury. People are commonly set free due to a single constitutional violation, but Peltier—innocent and faced with a staggering number of constitutional violations—has yet to receive equal justice,” Clark said.
In 2003, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals found that “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.”
Imprisoned for nearly 40 years—currently at the federal prison in Coleman, Florida—Peltier has been designated a political prisoner by Amnesty International.
Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 55 Members of Congress and others—including a judge who sat as a member of the court in two of Peltier’s appeals—have all called for his immediate release.
These and other supporters believe that, before leaving office, President Obama will correct this injustice and free Leonard Peltier by a grant of Executive Clemency.