Kris Kristofferson supports Leonard Peltier
Kristofferson & Leonard Peltier – Kris Kristofferson has always been an activist, & man oh man, didn’t he look amazing in that sleeveless black T Shirt he used to wear? You know the one – It had FREE LEONARD PELTIER emblazoned on the front of it. If he wore it to increase awareness of the plight of Peltier, it certainly worked its magic on me.m
Photo from the private collection of Mr N Nabney – Taken at a concert in Belfast, 1995
I read up, wrote letters & signed petitions, confident that with Kris on the case, the matter would be quickly resolved.
It wasn’t, & isn’t. I was reminded today that Mr Peltier remains incarcerated without any re-trial or parole. His situation remains frozen in limbo, as if someone pushed the pause button four decades ago.
There is some footage below that I hope interests you. The information from the video post (which I can only embed from a tweet due to copyright) says that it is from :
Two Rivers Cultural Explosion, 1991 – Confluence of the Mississippi & Minnesota Rivers – Clemency for Leonard Peltier. Kris Kristofferson, Larry Kegan & Larry Long singing Dylan’s Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door with Melvin James on Electric Guitar, Sid Gasner on Bass & Greg “Trax” Traxler on Drums.
Note the additional verse by Larry Long
Seems like every time I look around
Another good person is mowed down
Sometimes it’s hard to believe
One day we will be free
— Larry Long (@LarryLongMN) August 5, 2016
Leonard Peltier was found guilty of the shooting & killing of two FBI agents, Jack R Coler & Ronald A Williams on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota 26 June 1975. Joseph Stuntz, an AIM member, lost his life in the same incident after being shot by a BIA member. The death of Native American Joseph Stuntz remains unresolved & nobody has been convicted or even arrested for his death.
More about incident here
Cedar Rapids & Fargo
Peltier was named on the FBI ten most wanted fugitives list on 22 December 1975 until his arrest on 6 February 1976. AIM members Bob Robideau and Darrelle “Dino” Butler who were also on the scene were found not guilty by a court in Cedar Rapids, as it was ruled they acted in self-defence. Peltier, however, was tried later due to extradition (from Canada) delays & was tried separately.
Same Case Different Rules
Evidence that was not submitted in the Cedar Rapids trial was used in Peltier’s trial in Fargo. Graphic crime scene photographs & detailed injury reports presented in his trial were omitted from the previous trial. Peltier was convicted & sentenced to two consecutive life sentences in April 1977.
He has always claimed that he is innocent of the murders, although he has admitted that he participated in the shootout. Varies appeals over the years have resulted in his conviction & sentence being upheld despite concerns being raised about the fairness of his trial.
Inconsistencies – Evidence & Process
- The vehicle he was driving did not match the description that the FBI agents were chasing (based on their radio contact)
- Evidence of previous FBI evidence tampering heard in other cases was disallowed in Peltier’s hearing & kept from the jury
- Three witnesses recanted their testimony citing FBI intimidation & claims that they were tied to chairs & denied legal representation
- Conflicting ballistics testimony including a later FBI ballistics report that concluded the casings at the scene did not come from Peltier’s rifle was kept from the jury.
Charge, Change & Cul de Sacs
Peltier claims that during his 1992 appeal, his charge was illegally changed from First Degree Murder to Aiding & Abetting
The US Parole Commission denied Peltier parole in 1993 based on their finding that Peltier “participated in the premeditated and cold-blooded execution of those two officers.” They have, however, has since stated that it (The Parole Commission) “recognizes that the prosecution has conceded the lack of any direct evidence that [Peltier] personally participated in the executions of the two FBI agents.” (source)
Controversy & Support
Controversy around the fairness of the handling of the Peltier case, including the management of his appeals, has caused concerns & calls for a fair trial or release to be raised by many organisations & individuals including:
Aim (American Indian Movement) – regards Peltier as a political prisoner
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The UN high Commissioner for Human Rights
The Belgian & the Italian Parliament
& many more – Including Kris
Clemency & Lawsuit
In 2002, a civil rights lawsuit was filed by Peltier after President Clinton failed to answer a clemency request after an FBI friends & family protest. It was against the FBI & others who organised & participated in the campaign to thwart his clemency request, alleging that they “engaged in a systematic and officially sanctioned campaign of misinformation and disinformation.” This suit was dismissed on 22 March 2004 in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. In 2009, President George W Bush denied Peltier’s clemency petition. Time will tell how President Obama will respond.
There have been claims that mineral rights & wealth are some reasons why Peltier was convicted & has not been able to obtain a fair trial despite many other cases being overturned by the USA courts for far less irregularities than the many found in this one. There might be concerns that reputations could be affected, police & FBI staff might protest & the case may be politically sensitive because of Peltier’s membership of the American Indian Movement.
Leonard Peltier was born in September 1944, he will be 72 this year (2016) He has been incarcerated for almost 40 years now for a crime that he says he did not commit.
Not everyone believes he is innocent, but most people believe that his trial was unfair for many reasons, & only some of these have been mentioned here. Further information is available for anyone interested in learning more, & from a variety of sources.
Resources, Links & Sources
Warrior , a film about the life of Leonard Peltier (produced & directed by Suzie Baer) won a gold award at the Worldfest Houston International Film Award as well as best Documentary American Indian Film Festival.
Who is Leonard Peltier – Official site for the ILPDC – Int. Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
Free Peltier now – Information & petition
Sources & Citations: FBI headshot is Public Domain. Tweet is posted with full details. General information from Wiki & any other sources are provided by links in the text
As always, if anything needs correcting, adding or removing – Just let me know.
Response: This reply is from James Simon. It’s reposted here after we lost it during our efforts to comply with GDPR. Apologies.
Reference your Leonard Peltier info and your “As always, if anything needs correcting, adding or removing – Just let me know”…..
Here’s letting you know that a lot of your claims need correcting, adding or removing, as evidenced by the actual court records, sworn testimony (including the Aquash murder trials), and these factual quotes concerning an unrepentant double murdering cop-killer and masterful con-man:
“This story is true.”
Leonard Peltier, assuring his supporters that a mysterious Mr. X shot the FBI agents, as depicted in Robert Redford’s thoroughly discredited documentary, Incident at Oglala.
“Peter, you put my life in jeopardy and you put the lives my family in jeopardy by putting that bull—t in your books. Why didn’t you call me and ask me if it was true?”
Dean Butler, chastising Peter Matthiessen for promoting Peltier’s sworn alibi, Mr. X, in his book, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Peltier’s lawyer, Mike Kuzma, publicly admitted that the X story was “concocted” as are all of Peltier’s alibis. Note: The stand-in who played “Mr. X” in Peltier’s video (as seen on 60 Minutes) has been exposed as AIM member and “Mt Rushmore bomber,” David Hill.
“I seen Joe when he pulled it out of the trunk and I looked at him when he put it on, and he gave me a smile.”
Leonard Peltier, standing over the bodies of Jack Coler and Ronald Williams, moments after their heads were blown off, commenting on Joe Stuntz wearing Jack Coler’s green FBI jacket taken from his car trunk, as quoted from, In the Spirit of Crazy Horse.
“I didn’t think nothing about it at the time: all I could think of was, We got to get out of here!”
Leonard Peltier, reacting to Joe Stuntz wearing Jack Coler’s jacket, quote from In the Spirit of Crazy Horse. Peltier could hear the chatter over the FBI car radio from other agents who were racing to the scene and attempting to re-establish contact with Agent Williams in response to his calls for help. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that Peltier initially opened fire on the agents because he mistakenly thought they were there to arrest him. Peltier also feared that the agents would discover his armed encampment where numerous weapons, boxes of ammo, bomb-making materials, and several hand grenades lay hidden in the trees.
Mark Potter: “Did you fire at those agents, Coler and Williams?
Leonard Peltier: “I shot in their direction, yes.”
CNN interview, Oct 1999. Later in the interview, Peltier admits for the first time on camera that he left his firing position near a large tree and stood over the two dead agents moments after they were both shot in the head at point-blank range.
“…I can’t tell the system I was shooting at their police officers that were trying to arrest me. They’ll hold that against me. I’ve got to be careful about that stuff.”
Leonard Peltier, 1995 interview with Native journalist Richard LaCourse, admitting that he mistakenly believed the FBI agents were there to arrest him. Peltier was a wanted fugitive for the attempted murder of a police officer in Wisconsin. Agents Coler and Williams were looking for someone else when Peltier opened fire on their FBI cars, apparently recognizing the vehicles from the day before when the agents had visited the same compound in the same cars.
“When all is said and done, however, a few simple but very important facts remain. The casing introduced into evidence in fact had been extracted from the Wichita AR-15. This point was not disputed.”
Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, Feb 1986, finding of fact that a shell casing found at the murder scene was ejected from the AR-15 assault rifle carried by Leonard Peltier. Over a hundred shell casings, all matched to Peltier’s weapon, were found in the area where he was seen shooting and over a hundred bullet holes were found in the FBI cars.
“The record as a whole leaves no doubt that the jury accepted the government’s theory that Peltier had personally killed the two agents, after they were seriously wounded, by shooting them at point blank range with an AR-15 rifle ….The critical evidence in support of this theory was a casing from a .223 caliber Remington cartridge recovered from the trunk of [the car of one of the murdered agents] …The district court, agreeing with the government’s theory … sentenced Peltier to two consecutive life sentences.”
United States v. Peltier, 800 F.2d 772, 772-73 (8th Cir. 1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 822, 108 S. Ct. 84, 98 L. Ed. 2d 46 (1987)
“The motherf—er was begging for his life but I shot him anyway.”
Sworn testimony attributed to Leonard Peltier, boasting in the Marlon Brando motor home about shooting Ronald Williams, as heard by Dennis Banks, Ka-Mook Banks, Bernie Lafferty, and (soon-to-be-murdered) Anna Mae Pictou Aquash. According to the autopsy report, Ronald Williams died with his right hand held up in front of his face; there were powder burns on his fingers.
“The circumstantial evidence presented at the extradition hearing, taken alone [without the Poor Bear affidavits], constituted sufficient evidence to justify Mr. Peltier’s committal on the two murder charges.”
Anne McLellen, Canadian Minister of Justice, in a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, October 12, 1999, affirming that Peltier was lawfully extradited to the US to stand trial for murder.
“The two witnesses testified outside the presence of the jury that after their testimony at trial, they had been threatened by Peltier himself that if they did not return to court and testify that their earlier testimony had been induced by F.B.I. threats, their lives would be in danger.”
United States v. Peltier, 585 F. 2d 314, U.S. App. Decision September 14, 1978.
“There is no doubt that in June 1975 Leonard Peltier put a loaded gun in my mother’s mouth during one of her interrogations and that six months later, other members and leaders of the American Indian Movement carried out my mother’s torture, rape and murder. Leonard knows a lot about the people involved but even today, after all these years, he refuses to cooperate in the on-going murder investigation.”
Denise Maloney, daughter of AIM murder victim Anna Mae Pictou Aquash (Mi’kmaq)
“This story that the government admitted they don’t know who shot the agents comes from an out-of-context comment attributed to prosecutor Lynn Crooks. Let me tell you something. I know Lynn Crooks, and there is no one on the planet more convinced of Peltier’s guilt than Lynn Crooks.”
John M. Trimbach, American Indian Mafia
“… the greater probability is that you yourself fired the fatal shots… It would be unjust to treat the slaying of these F.B.I. agents, while they lay wounded and helpless, as if your actions had been part of a gun battle. Neither the state of relations between Native American militants and law enforcement at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation prior to June 26, 1975, nor the exchanges of gunfire between individuals at the Jumping Bull Compound and the law enforcement agents who arrived there during the hours after Agents Coler and Williams were murdered, explains or mitigates the crimes you committed…Your release on parole would promote disrespect for the law in contravention of 18 U.S.C….”
Leonard Peltier’s 1999 Parole Board, commenting on his aiding and abetting conviction.
“But in the end, while crossing back and forth over the issue of ‘without doubt,’ and crossing back again to wonder, it simply took a delegation of people who were tired of all the deceptions, lies and dangers to step forward and tell me the truth. ‘Peltier was responsible for the close range execution of the agents…’ and that was the end of that.“
Native journalist Paul DeMain, April 2, 2007, writing about “people who have agonized for years, grandfathers and grandmothers, AIM activists, Pipe carriers and others who have carried a heavy unhealthy burden within them that has taken its toll.”
“For me it’s something very heroic that he’s done. He’s putting himself at risk, seriously at risk. I will say this: that this brother is a very strong brother. He is not a cold-blooded murderer. He is not a bad person, he’s very kind, generous and sincere.”
Leonard Peltier, 1991 Darrin Wood interview, describing the man who executed Ronald Williams and Jack Coler.
“I never thought my commitment would mean sacrificing like this, but I was willing to do so nonetheless. And really, if necessary, I’d do it all over again, because it was the right thing to do.”
Message from the “Bernie Madoff of political prisoners,” 2/6/2010.
Parole may be granted when the offender’s “…release would not depreciate the seriousness of the offense.”
DOJ policy statement on parole that explains why inmate Peltier has never qualified for parole.
Peltier’s latest ploy (fooling President Obama into thinking that he is a victim of the “system”) didn’t work either. In his sworn petition for clemency to the president, Peltier claims he ran in the direction of “women and children” after, as he also claims in his book, waking up to the smell of pancakes and the sound of gunfire in his tent a quarter mile from the murder scene. Peltier had hoped the president was unaware that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals established that the gunfire actually started when Peltier emerged from his Suburban van and opened fire on agents Williams and Coler.
What sort of consideration is due an unrepentant cop killer who lies to the president? Peltier’s worst enemy has always been the truth, encouraged by Amnesty International’s dishonest accounting of the murders and the urban legends spread by virtue merchants of the Left. Somebody please clue in the venerable Mr. K!© kriskristoffersonfan.com unless otherwise stated