Supporting Executive Clemency
for Leonard Peltier
Adopted Nov. 12, 1997, by the NCC General Assembly
On June 26, 1975, during a fire fight on the Pine Ridge Reservation between approximately 35 American Indians, according to FBI documents, and over 150 combat armed FBI agents, Bureau of Indian Affairs police, US Marshals and local police, two FBI agents and one American Indian were killed.
Several high visibility American Indian Movement leaders, including Peltier, were on site. During the fire fight, they vacated the area. After the largest FBI manhunt in history, Leonard Peltier, Dino Butler and Bob Robideau were arrested. Peltier fled to Canada where he was subsequently arrested and illegally returned to the United States by orders of then Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.
Both Butler and Robideau were tried in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and acquitted on grounds that they were acting in self-defense. Only Peliter, who was tried in Fargo, North Dakota, was convicted, after a 1976 FBI memo called for the use of "full prosecutive weight of the federal government . . . against Leonard Peltier," and sentenced to two life terms to be served consecutively. He has now served twenty-one years.
In spite of petitions for executive clemency by concerned people in the multi-millions throughout the world, the support of noted religious personalities such as Bishop Tutu and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, celebrities by the dozens, and the statement by US Prosecutor Lynn Crooks, "The facts available did not give us direct evidence as to who did the coup-de-grace . . .", not only does Peltier remain imprisoned; he will not be allowed to petition for parole until the year 2008.
A final appeal has been filed based on a recently discovered error made by his (Peltier's) attorney during the original trial. Along with the motion for appeal, the movement petitioning President Clinton to grant executive clemency continues.
WHEREAS Leonard Peltier was a target of the federal Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO); and
WHEREAS Peltier was tried and convicted, under questionable circumstances, of the murders of two FBI agents; and
WHEREAS a US trial prosecutor has stated, after Peltier's conviction, that the identity of the person(s) who actually killed the two FBI agents is still unknown; and
WHEREAS Peltier has served twenty-one years in Marion and Leavenworth federal penitentiaries, and
WHEREAS he is suffering from a degenerative jaw disease that was maltreated by prison medical staff, and
WHEREAS he was removed from a federal medical facility before his recuperation period was completed; and
WHEREAS inadequate medical care of the degenerative jaw disease has resulted in a severe health crisis created a by an approximately one half inch gap between his upper and lower molars; and
WHEREAS this degenerative jaw disease has created a severe eating disorder which is the basis of an inability to ingest and digest food properly and is causing nutritional imbalance; and
WHEREAS Leonard Peltier is in need of specialized non-prison medical care for the treatment of a condition that is still treatable;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA calls on President William J. Clinton to grant Executive Clemency to Leonard Peltier; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Leonard Peltier be granted Executive Clemency as a moral right to correct a legal wrong.