A major campaign is under way seeking freedom for Indigenous rights activist Leonard Peltier, who has been incarcerated for 46 years.
The Democratic National Committee voted unanimously to pass a resolution urging President Joe Biden to grant clemency to Peltier, who is considered by many to be America’s longest-serving political prisoner.
Clemency has also been urged by celebrities and international human rights leaders, including Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and Amnesty International USA.
Peltier was convicted of murder in the killings of two FBI agents during a 1975 shootout on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Advocates for his release have raised several problems with his trial including racism, lack of evidence, and evidence suggesting the FBI was partially responsible for the shootout.
Peltier’s advocates also include a former U.S. prosecutor who pleaded with Biden to grant clemency. Earlier this year, the DNC’s Native American Caucus issued a statement calling Peltier’s imprisonment, “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in modern history.”
According to the Huffington Post, the DNC’s resolution states that Peltier, who is 77, should be freed “given the overwhelming support for clemency, the constitutional due process issues underlying Mr. Peltier’s prosecution, his status as an elderly inmate, and that he is an American Indian, who suffers from greater rates of health disparities and severe underlying health conditions.”
The Huffington Post noted that Biden has already demonstrated a willingness to address past injustices against Native Americans, citing his intent to examine the country’s history of Indian boarding schools and his appointment of Deb Haaland as the country’s first Indigenous Secretary of the Interior.
“It is highly appropriate that consideration of clemency for Mr. Peltier be prioritized and expatiated, so that Mr. Peltier can return to his family and live his final years among his people,” the DNC resolution concludes