Thoughts on Leonard Peltier and the culture of "Justice"

July 24th, 2009

Photo of Leonard Peltier circa 2009. Possibly from Peter Matthiessen’s visit.

If you don’t know much about Leonard Peltier, I’d encourage you to read as much about him as you can. His story is a mix of U.S. History, a double-murder mystery still unsolved, conspiracy theorist cover-ups and cultural oppression through institutionalized thugs. Fill in any gaps with the history of the Pine Ridge Reservation leading up to the late 60s and 70s and you have a very disturbing, saddening mash of cultural, political and historical forces.

Peltier was up for parole in the summer of 2009 and throughout the interwebs, articles and news of his situation starting appearing. Unfortunately, a number of comments in the forums called for letting him rot in prison, or “he killed 2 agents and a cop, so let him rot in hell”, or the ever-popular-but-still-feeble argument, “I’ve reviewed all the evidence and think he’s guilty as hell.” Hmm, what evidence?

To the present, there is no direct evidence of his guilt. Judges and lawyers throughout the years have pointed out this fact. Yet all of the legal proceedings for his case are so full of contradictions, that his continued imprisonment seems to only be based on “burn in hell” bias.

There’s predominant assumption that the Government has the right to invade, persecute, or overpower anyone it sees fit and that those affected have no right to resist. Especially when you consider historical context— the invasion of Native American lands, the genocidal treatment of the Native Americans for centuries, and the state of war at the Pine Ridge Reservation in the early 1970s.

Recognize supremacist arguments for what they are. Do you think your spew of hatred is somehow justified because you belong to a racial, cultural, or social majority?

[1] Photo of Leonard Peltier circa 2009. Possibly from Peter Matthiessen’s visit.

Sadly, from wikipedia:
On January 13, 2009, Peltier was severely beaten by fellow inmates at the United States Penitentiary, Canaan [Pennsylvania], where he had been transferred from USP Lewisburg [also Pennsylvania]. He was sent back to Lewisburg, where he remained until the fall of 2011 when he was transferred to a federal penitentiary in Florida. Today Leonard Peltier is housed at Coleman Federal Correctional Complex in Coleman, Florida.

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