Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) “strongly” supports the release of Native American rights activist Leonard Peltier from prison, according to a letter to a constituent obtained by HuffPost.
“As you know, Leonard Peltier spent over 40 years of his life in prison despite the government’s admission that he did not know who was responsible for the crime for which he was convicted,” Sanders said. in the June 8 email. “Despite national and international campaigns to free Peltier, he remains incarcerated, where he continues to defend the rights of indigenous peoples.”
“For this reason, I have and will continue to strongly support petitions for the release of Leonard Peltier,” Sanders concludes.
A voter forwarded the letter to HuffPost. A spokesperson for Sanders confirmed his legitimacy, but did not provide further comment on the senator’s views on jailing Peltier.
The letter means Sanders is the fourth US senator in recent months to ask President Joe Biden to grant the ailing 77-year-old activist clemency and send him home. The senses. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) have separately and publicly called on Biden to release Peltier.
If you haven’t heard of Peltier, consider it America’s longest serving political prisoner — a drop guy the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office desperately needed after they failed to find out who murdered two FBI agents in a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota.
If you’ve heard of Peltier, you know how problematic his imprisonment is: the blatant 1970s racism against Indigenous peoples he faced. The fact that all of Peltier’s co-defendants were acquitted on the basis of self-defense. The reality that the FBI was at least partly responsible for the shooting that day. The admission of US government officials that Peltier’s trial was so flawed that he should be released. The decades of outcry from Indigenous leaders, members of congress, celebrities and human rights leaders, including Pope Francisthe Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King and Amnesty Internationalan organization otherwise focused on political prisoners in other countries.
Today, the result is simple: an elderly Indigenous man has been in prison for 46 years and should never have been there in the first place.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether Biden was considering granting clemency to Peltier.
Here is a copy of Sanders’ letter to his constituent:
The Huffington Gt