Free Leonard Peltier

by Joe Britton

In 1973, a shoot out between the F.B.I. agents and the AIM members took place at the Ogala Sioux Pine Ridge Rezervation. Two F.B.I. agents in separate cars followed a truck with about four AIM members in it because they were looking for a guy who had a warrant out and they thought he was in the truck. The agents followed them to the Jumping Bull property where more than a dozen AIM members were camped. The truck parked and the shoot out started.

About four AIM members were arrested and went to trial and Leonard Peltier was one of them. Leonard Peltier has been imprisoned for 33 years and was recently transferred from Louisberg to Canaan Penitentiary. There he was attacked and was brutally beaten by other inmates. A protest was then organized in San Francisco about what had happened to him. The protest was to demand Leonard’s freedom and to have him transferred back to the prison he was at. He was transferred back to Louisberg and was named a hero in the Indian Community.

I think what took place at the Canaan Penitentiary was fixed by officers and the security guards of the prison. Peltier is now going up for parole and I think the system is trying to keep him until he dies. What happened I think was because he is going up for parole and because his people have not forgotten about him and will keep fighting until he is free or at peace. My personal feelings are that because Leonard Peltier is such a huge part of the Indian community they want to keep him locked up until we forget about him and the AIM is no more.

For me and my family to be able to participate in this event was an honor and we are very proud that Indians are still fighting for this individual. It is something that I would get heavily involved with and would put most of my time trying to stay involved. I’m very proud that my family was a part of the rally. It shows my little siblings what is going on in the community and to their people and what they could learn from events like this. Introduce other people to the problem and educate more about what is happening to native people in the prison system. Teaching the younger generation to stand up for their people, and trying to make a difference at the age they are at will make them stronger in the future, and get them more involved in their community events on helping our people out such as the the GONA {gathering of native Americans} and other native resources that help out our families.

Leonard Peltier going up for parole is a huge achievement for us who protested and for the ones that did not lose faith and stop fighting. We were not fighting for nothing and will not stop until he is free. There is still anger from what happened and feelings of racism and unfairness of color of skin. Anger of how many years he lost of his life because of imprisonment. In spite all of this, I think it makes young Natives today stronger and willing to stay together and stand up for their beliefs and their people.

This story by Joe Britton, 17, was featured in SNAG Issue #6. He is Washoe, lives in Hayward and is part of SNAG's workshop team.

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