U.S. Parole Commission Denies Release for Leonard Peltier

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Written By Kanisha Laing

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After nearly half a century behind bars, Native American activist Leonard Peltier faces continued imprisonment as the U.S. Parole Commission denies his request for parole. Peltier is serving two life sentences for his role in a 1975 shootout on the Pine Ridge Reservation, a tragic incident that claimed the lives of two FBI agents.

FBI Director Christopher Wray recently reiterated accusations against Peltier, stating he was responsible for the fatal shootings and has not shown remorse or accepted responsibility. This stance significantly influenced the parole commission’s decision.

Ed Woods, a retired FBI agent and staunch advocate against Peltier’s release, emphasized the justice system’s affirmation of Peltier’s guilt despite ongoing claims of innocence. For Woods, the parole denial affirms the justice system’s decision.

Amnesty International criticized Peltier’s prolonged incarceration as a human rights issue, echoing sentiments shared by many who view Peltier as a symbol of racial injustice within the U.S. criminal justice system and a defender of Native American civil rights.

Nick Tilsen, president of NDN Collective, described the parole denial as akin to a “death sentence” for Peltier. Tilsen highlighted the lack of physical evidence against him and pledged to advocate for clemency from President Joe Biden. Peltier’s legal team anticipates a protracted appeal process, citing concerns over his deteriorating health.

As discussions persist regarding Peltier’s future, supporters and advocates are rallying to secure his release. Peltier’s case remains a poignant symbol of enduring political imprisonment in the United States and a testament to his role as a prominent figure in Native American activism.

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