SUMMARY OF THE ISSUE
What’s happening: Leonard Peltier is an Anishinabe—Lakota Native American serving two consecutive life sentences.
When arrested, he was a leading member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), an advocacy group and movement concerned with Native American rights. In 1975, during a confrontation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota involving AIM members, two FBI agents were shot dead. Leonard was convicted of their murders, but has always maintained his innocence.
There are serious concerns about the fairness of proceedings leading to his trial and conviction, including coerced and later recanted testimony as well as the prosecution’s withholding of evidence that might have assisted Leonard Peltier’s defense. In light of these and other concerns, the former US Attorney who supervised the prosecution team post-trial, James Reynolds, has since called for clemency. In a letter he wrote to President Biden on July 9th 2021, he states: “I write today from a position rare for a former prosecutor: to beseech you to commute the sentence of a man who I helped put behind bars…I have realized that the prosecution and continued incarceration of Mr. Peltier was and is unjust.”
In 2016 Amnesty International highlighted Leonard’s case in its Write for Rights Campaign. Unfortunately, President Obama did not grant Leonard clemency and he will not be eligible for parole until 2024. Leonard’s serious and increasing health concerns do not afford him a luxury of time.
He is now 78 years old in ailing health with multiple chronic illnesses including diabetes, an abdominal aortic aneurysm and other serious life-threatening illnesses. Prison alone is hazardous for one’s health, as an elder surviving in prison for 44+ years, particularly with comorbidities during COVID, his release is an extremely urgent matter.
Imprisoned in Florida, approximately 2,000 miles from his community, it is not only a physical hardship for his loved ones to visit him, it is almost impossible financially. As a result, he remains isolated and in poor and rapidly declining health.
Amnesty International urges the Biden / Harris administration to act in the interest of justice and grant Leonard Peltier clemency—AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. PLEASE TAKE ACTION: HERE!
CALL TO ACTION: VIDEO / PHOTO
We ask all Amnesty International activists to make videos and take photos for this urgent global social media action.
Take photos with Free Leonard Peltier signs. If no time to make them yourself, print one of these!
Get creative! Write Free Leonard Peltier in the sand on your favorite beach, write it with stones, leaves, twigs, flowers, or people! Ask your local theater to put Free Leonard Peltier on their theater’s sign, take photos!
Take photos in front of iconic landmarks, murals, natural sites in your community like national parks, the Golden Gate Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Capitol building in your city, iconic places around the world like Big Ben, Taj Mahal, or natural landscapes, the beach, your yard or wherever you are in the world!
Ask your local bookstore to put a sign in the window! Paint a painting or a mural. Get in the picture and post on social media! Lean into your creativity and make signs with drawings, or take selfies with Free Leonard signs. Always be very professional and polite in your ask!
TAKE A VIDEO ACTION
Post your videos and photos on social media! Please upload your short video HERE!
(By submitting you give AIUSA Group 30 permission to use in our advocacy for freeing Leonard).
1. Write a 30-60 second script on why you think Leonard Peltier must be released.
Introduce yourself and your city/state or country. See messaging guide if you need help with your script and stay on message!
2. Film horizontally with good natural lighting (no filters).
3. Make sure your audio is clear and good quality (no wind, no other noises).
4. Post on your social media platforms, tagging President Joe Biden (@POTUS), Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP), and Amnesty International USA (@amnestyusa) so that we can amplify your activism!
5. Please also send completed video / photos here as we might use for Amnesty advocacy for Leonard.
Personalized messages in your unique voice are best! Be sure to focus your video on Leonard’s release and say why it is important to YOU. See some talking points below to help you get started: It’s time to release Leonard Peltier!
ADAPT ANY OF THE BELOW FOR A SHORT VIDEO:
- “Hello President Biden, my name is [FIRST NAME] and I am a human rights defender in [CITY/STATE OR COUNTRY].” I am calling on you to please release native elder, Leonard Peltier. (Please state this at the beginning of your video.)
- Leonard Peltier has spent 46 years in Federal prison, often in solitary confinement, for a crime he maintains he did not do.
- Leonard Peltier is 78 years old and in rapidly declining health. There are serious concerns that he is not receiving adequate medical treatment—he needs access to medical treatment as soon as possible. As his condition could be fatal.
- Amnesty International is calling on President Biden to grant Leonard Peltier clemency before it is too late. He should live his final days on native land.
- We must face and change the painful and enduring legacy of racism in the carceral system in the United States. Leonard Peltier’s case is a prime example of unfair trials and other injustices that first peoples, and BIPOC people face in a historically racist and biased legal and carceral system.
- Peace Prize Laureates, including the late Nelson Mandela and dozens of religious and human rights leaders like Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Coretta Scott King have all called for Leonard Peltier’s release.President Biden you have an opportunity to rectify a case that has troubled many people for decades. It is time to release Leonard Peltier! You President Biden are the one who can do it! Please hear the human rights defenders around the world and grant Leonard Peltier clemency.
- The time to act is now!
AMPLIFY ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Elevate these calls to action on your social media channel to keep our ask on their radar. Please be sure to include @POTUS and @VP (Vice President Kamala Harris)
Please use the hashtags #FreeLeonardPeltier #Clemency #IndigenousRights so folks can follow, retweet and amplify our activism!
Sample Tweets / Posts
.@amnesty calls on @POTUS to grant #NativeAmerican elder Leonard Peltier #CLEMENCY before it is too late. He is in very poor health and should live with his community @JoeBiden @VP @WhiteHouse @amnestyusa #FreeLeonardPeltier
Dear @POTUS@WhiteHouse please grant #clemency to #NativeAmerican elder #LeonardPeltier. He needs access to medical treatment. He has already served 2 sentences. @VP @amnestyusa @SpeakerPelosi #FreeLeonardPeltier #IndigenousRights
Peace Prize Laureates like @NelsonMandela & religious & #humanrights leaders around the world like the @DalaiLama & @TheDesmondTutu have called for Leonard Peltier’s release for 46 + years now @POTUS please grant #CLEMENCY to #FREELEONARDPELTIER before it’s too late.
Lobby your Member of Congress
Representative Grijalva and ten other Members of Congress wrote a letter to President Biden, Attorney General Garland, Director Carvajal, and Director Keller to grant Leonard clemency.
Senators Shatz (HI) led Seven Senators urging President Biden to commute Leonard’s sentence.
Representative Ruth Buffalo (ND) and 23 Native American legislators drafted a similar letter on behalf of Leonard.
Ask your Member of Congress to urge President Biden to urgently release Leonard Peltier on humanitarian grounds, before it is too late.
If your Representative or Senator signed onto a letter already please thank them! Contact your Senator / Find your Representative