Sunday, 8 May 2016

40 years after the American Indian Movement surrenders at Wounded Knee: Leonard Peltier's injustice continues.

                                 participants of 1973, Wounded Knee occupation.

On this day - 8 May - 1973, the American Indian Movement's  (AIM) occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota ended with the surrender of some 120 Native American and Lakota activists.
Initially provoked by the corruption of the Government's approved tribal governance , their goal too was to protest injustices against their tribes, and the many violations of various treaty's with the United States  government and current abuses and repression against their people. In the 2 years prior to the confrontation more than 60 Indians at the Pine Ridge reservation had been killed, without anyone having been bought to justice for their crimes. The occupation began on February 27 lasting for 71 days and was symbolically located at  Wounded Knee which was the site of a US government massacre of 300 Lakota in 1880. In addition to its historical significance , Wounded  Knee was one of the poorest communities in the United States and shared with the other Pine Ridge settlements some of the country's lowest rates of life expectancy.
The actions of AIM acclaimed by many Native Americans. The 200 activists from AIM soon faced a federal government force including Marhalls, the FBI  and the Nebraska National Guard who responded to the occupation with a full scale military style assault. In the resulting melee two fedral agents were shot along with two brave warriors - Buddy Lamont and Frank Clearwater - died during the siege, where over 200,000 rounds of ammunition were fired at the protestors. Also 2 federal agents had been shot during the standoff. This use  of military force by the federal government later ruled to be unlawful..

After AIM's eventual surrender Leonard Peltier, a member of the Lakota Ogkla Sioux was arrested and charged  with the murder of the two FBI agents on the  flimsiest off evidence. Leonard Peltier is now one of American society's  longest serving political prisonersi, considered to be the Native American peoples  own Nelson Mandela, who though admitting to being there at the time, to help protect his community from continuing violence, has always proclaimed his innocence of actually shooting anyone.
Still in jail today despite the protests and claims of AIM and human rights groups, including Amnesty International. His prosecution and conviction  is felt by many to have driven only  by his participation  in the American Indian Movement. He has continued to be a victim of the racism and corruption embedded in the US criminal justice system. But Leonard Peltier is not simply a victim, he is also a fighter, writer, activist, grandfather, Nobel Peace Prize nominess, and was the Presidential candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party in 2004 whose spirit refuses to be beaten. Leonard his friends family and comrades have fought over the years for real justice to be done. In the years since his conviction, millions upon millions of people around the world have come  to learn of his case, agree that he is innocent and demand his freedom. 
With failing health I hope he is given his freedom soon, and the injustice that continues to be metered out finally ends. 40 years later despite serious concerns about the fairness of the proceedings leading to his conviction is time that President Obama grants him clemancy on humanitarian grounds and in the interests of justice. 

                                           Leonard Peltier

No comments:

Post a Comment