Friday, January 13, 2017

Chicago Tribune: "No" to Peltier

The Chicago Tribune argues 72-year old Leonard Peltier, now in the 40th year of a life sentence for the murder of two FBI agents, "should stay in jail for the rest of his life."

Pielter has impressive supporters in his bid for executive clemency, including Desmond Tutu, Jesse Jackson and Robert Redford. Even a former U.S. attorney in the office that prosecuted him is "urging Obama" to consider "compassionate release."  Peltier also maintains his innocence, but the Tribune is not impressed:
Peltier was 30 when FBI agents Ronald Williams and Jack Coler arrived at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota on June 26, 1975, to arrest robbery suspect Jimmy Eagle. They were met with a torrent of bullets, from what prosecutors say were at least seven assailants. As the two agents lay in the dirt heavily wounded, three of the attackers walked up to them. One, armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, shot both in the head at close range ... Peltier was the only assailant wielding an AR-15 that day, according to eyewitness testimony. In 1977, a federal jury convicted Peltier of the agents' murders. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.
An appellate court concluded that it really didn't matter whether or not it was proven that Peltier was the shooter. He was an "aider or abettor" in the murders, at a minimum. It has been claimed that the FBI "fabricated and withheld evidence," and appellate courts "have agreed that there were flaws in how the FBI — and prosecutors — handled the case," but not enough to warrant a new trial. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to give the case further consideration and parole requests have been rejected. The Tribune says:
Peltier's supporters have always framed the plea for his release against the backdrop of long-standing mistreatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. Pine Ridge is home to Wounded Knee, the site of a massacre of 200 Sioux men, women and children by the Army's 7th Cavalry in 1890. But Peltier's case is not about the plight of Native Americans. It's about justice for two men who were killed while carrying out their duties as law enforcement officers. Period.
See full Tribune editorial here.

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